Gluten free. Omega-3 rich.
Fish is easily digested and is packed full of healthy fats and protein. Regular consumption (2-3 times per week) can help support a healthy mood by providing amino acids (proteins) that are the building blocks of neurotransmitters, the compounds responsible for transferring messages in the brain and lifting the mood.
Fish is also the primary dietary source of omega-3, a fat that has a potent anti-inflammatory action in the brain and other organs. Your body can not make omega-3, so it’s important you get enough through your diet.
Inflammation in the brain, termed ‘neuroinflammation’, is a common contributing factor in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. In some circumstances, your practitioner may recommend a fish oil supplement to supply a therapeutic dose of omega-3, which is hard to achieve through diet alone. Getting into the habit of regular fish consumption is still a good idea even if you are taking a supplement, to ensure you continue to meet your nutritional needs after you have stopped supplementing.
Not all fish contains the same level of omega-3 per serve. Those higher in this healthy fat include salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. A fresh, high quality fish that’s been cooked at low heat will prevent damage to the omega-3 within.
The smaller sea fish such as sardines and mackerel also contain lower quantities of mercury, a compound that is toxic to the brain. I often recommend sardines to patients, but many are unsure how to incorporate this little fish into their diet. This simple recipe can be made for lunch or dinner and disguises the fish within. It’s perfect for kids and fussy eaters!
2 tins of whole sardines, in olive oil or freshwater, drained
4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
Up to 1 cup of gluten free breadcrumbs
3 tsp smoked paprika
1-2 tsp salt, to taste
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 spring onions, chopped
½ bunch coriander, chopped, stems and leaves
Corn kernels from 1 fresh corn
Olive oil for cooking
Natural or greek pot set yoghurt for serving
Salad for serving
1. Boil the potatoes until soft.
2. Drain and mash the potatoes, leaving them slightly chunky.
3. Drain excess liquid off the sardines and using a fork, mash the sardines in their tin. Add mashed sardines to the potatoes.
Note: Don’t worry about mashing the bones up in these little fish - they are soft enough to eat.
4. Add salt, paprika, lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh corn, coriander, spring onion and eggs to the potato mixture. Stir it all together with a large spoon.
5. Finally add the breadcrumbs, bit by bit until the potato mixture is dry enough to handle.
6. Heat 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil in a pan on medium heat.
7. With your hands form balls using 1 heaped dessertspoon of the mixture. Place the ball in the hot oil and press down to form a patty.
8. Cook the patties on each side for 3-5 minutes, until golden.
9. Serve with salad and a dollop of yoghurt with your favourite fresh herbs mixed through.
These patties can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen and reheated at low-medium heat.
By Naturopath Lucy Mason.