Grass Roots Nutrition: Tiny Fish

Grass Roots Nutrition: Tiny Fish

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Dear Holly: Are sardines the same thing as anchovies? Are they good for you? -Tiny Fishes


Dear Tiny Fishes:
Anchovies and sardines are two different groups of fishes that have common features. Both tend to be small, are commonly brined and canned, and have a distinctive flavor.


Any fish is going to be an excellent source of complete protein, but some fish are higher in omega-3 fatty acids. These can be called “oily,” “fatty” or “cold water” fish. Either way, both sardines and anchovies are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help to keep us healthy, but as a whole, Americans are not eating enough of them.


What about mercury? What about the sustainability of our fisheries? All good questions. Larger fish may take more years to reach maturity. And the higher up on the food chain, the more likely you will have contamination from heavy metals such as mercury.


The best of the best? Fish that are sustainably raised, are not contaminated with heavy metals and provide a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids. The Monteray Bay Aquarium lists five kinds of fish meeting these stringent criteria and wild-caught Pacific sardines make the cut!


The Monteray Bay Aquarium has guides for consuming fish sustainably which are available online, as an App on your phone, or as a PDF guide you can print.


Calcium bonus: if you eat the whole fish, not just the fillet, you get the added benefit of calcium from the fish skeleton. This also applies if you eat canned salmon – you cannot taste the bones, but the nutritional benefit is there!


Below is a recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts that are really amazing – give them a try! I have also used sardines packed in tomato sauce as a base on pizzas as well as enjoyed sardines packed in mustard on crackers for a quick snack.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Anchovies
1 stalk brussels sprouts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
4 green onions, sliced
2 ounce can anchovy fillet in oil, minced, reserving oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup pecans


1. Preheat oven to 375 (or more, or less, roasting is really flexible).
2. Remove Brussels sprouts from stalk and trim to be about the same size. Keep tiny ones whole, half or quarter larger sprouts. Put on baking sheet and toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through.
3. Drain anchovy filet oil into a small mixing bowl. Finely mince fillets and add to bowl. Add all other ingredients and whisk until combined. When brussels sprouts are tender, pour dressing around sheet pan and toss sprouts well to coat. Bake another five minutes or so or until nuts are fragrant and brussels sprouts are well browned.


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What’s your question for Holly? Send them to For more information and to make an appointment to work on your goals, visit Grass Roots Nutrition, LLC and BrideBod, owned by me, Holly Larson, a Registered Dietitian. Visit me online at and follow us on Facebook. Have a delicious, healthy day!