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Eco-Friendly Fish Recipes for Sardines, Herring, and Other Small Fish

Benefits of Eating Small Fish

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Small fish like anchovies, sardines, herring, and mackerel don’t always get the most love, but some of the world’s leading chefs are encouraging consumers to start changing that. International top chefs met in Spain earlier this month to discuss the overfishing problem that’s hurting the world’s fish population. The solution? Eat smaller fish! The benefits of eating lower-on-the-food-chain seafood are good for the environment and good for you. While larger fish species are closer to extinction, thanks to their popularity on the dinner table, there are still plenty of sardines to go around. Plus, the smaller fish contain the same kinds of nutrients and vitamins we’re used to getting in our usual salmon, like vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, they tend to cost less. It’s a win-win situation! And since cooking with smaller fish would be a whole lot easier with some delicious recipes on hand, we’ve rounded up a few that are sure to entice you.

Photo: Love Life Food

Mackerel and Super Greens with Yogurt Dressing

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Packed with broccoli and kale, mackerel is a welcome substitute for chicken or salmon in this superfood salad from I Quit Sugar. If you're unsure about mackerel, just add a little more of the tangy yogurt dill dressing. Delicious! (Need more salad ideas for packed lunches? Check out 7 Vegan Recipes for a Satisfying Low-Calorie Lunch.)

Photo: I Quit Sugar

Garlic and Anchovy Roasted Lamb Chops

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Anchovies are the star flavor of this mouthwatering dinner dish from Spoon Fork Bacon, adding a briny taste that's anything but fishy. Season with sage butter and garlic and top with chopped olives for a full-on Mediterranean feel.

Photo: Spoon Fork Bacon

Sardines with Chili and Lime

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Canned sardines are given a zesty flavor boost from lime juice, chili flakes, and red bell peppers in this fresh, tapas-style meal from Life Love Food—it's perfect as a spread for crackers or a workday salad. Reuse the sardine cans to portion out your servings! (Chilis bring the heat without the added calories. Check out 10 Spicy Recipes Featuring Chilli Peppers for more mouthwatering meal ideas.)

Photo: Love Life Food

Dried Herring, Fried Rice, and Egg

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This savory breakfast of dried herring, garlic fried rice, and an egg from Apron & Sneakers is traditional to the Philippines, but you don't have to be on vacation to enjoy it! Swap your morning bacon in favor of the pre-cooked herring, which you can pick up at your local Asian market. A simple side sauce made with vinegar, salt, garlic (and chili if you like it spicy!) cuts down on the fishy flavor of the herring.

Photo: Apron & Sneakers

Quinoa Puttanesca

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Puttanesca is a traditional Italian pasta dish made with lots of chopped anchovies and olives, but this gluten-free quinoa version from Katie at the Kitchen Door takes it from guilty pleasure to weeknight staple. This dish wouldn't be quite as good without the salty, briny anchovies, so make sure to add extra if you please. (For more healthy Italian dishes, check out 15 Low-Calorie Pasta Recipes for a Healthy Italian Dinner.)

Photo: Katie at the Kitchen Door

Sardine Fish Cakes

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We've all heard of crab cakes, but these sardine fish cakes from Ditch the Wheat are healthier (grain-free!) and cheaper to make. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce or garlic aioli, as the recipe recommends.

Photo: Ditch the Wheat

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