Sardine and Avocado sandwich

Sardines and Avocados

January 27, 2010 · 79 comments

This isn’t so much about creamy avocado. Nor is it about unctuous, oily sardines, crusty toasted bread or even fruity olive oil. This is about weight. My weight, your weight and Alton’s weight.

Have you seen Alton Brown lately? Yes, that’s him. Or half of him. Alton recently dropped 50 pounds, and after circulating rumors of tropical diseases or exotic parasites, Alton revealed his slimming secrets. And actually, it’s not a secret at all.

Cutting down on desserts, exercising often and consuming a steady diet of sardines and avocados helped Alton achieve his svelte new figure. Don’t be surprised, all that fat in avocados is good fat. And sardines have loads of omega-3. But this isn’t a health blog. Instead I’ll tell you it’s delicious, and can easily replace a subpar workday lunch, even if you’re not trying to lose 50 pounds.

People are always asking about my weight, stunned that I stay slim while writing a food blog. It’s genes, they always say. And yes, I have skinny kin (some too skinny–that’s a different story). But when I turned 25, a roll here and a bulge there told me it was time to monitor what I ate. Monitor. What a sour word in the context of food. Counting every crouton in your soup, tracking each morsel of artisanal cheese, carefully placing an exact number of noodles on your plate. I’m sorry, that’s not for me, and honestly, neither is any kind of portion control.

I am not a weight-loss expert or nutrition guru (my opinion on portion control gives that away), but if you want to know how I attempt to keep my 5’6 frame at 128 pounds, here it goes…

I go to the gym, and I work hard. I run under 8 minutes per mile, I pile on the resistance in spin class, and I lift until I can’t in the weight room. I do this because I love to eat (and have pent up aggression, but whatever, leave me alone.) I don’t eat sugar often, but not because it makes you fat. I don’t crave it. I do crave cheese. And wine. And things soaked in olive oil. And so I enjoy these things, accompanied by vegetables, so I don’t overdo it.

I bring lunch to work. Things like this sardine avocado sandwich, but also roasted chickpeas with rice, leftover pasta with vegetables or grilled cheese made in the lunchroom toaster. As my co-workers heat up minuscule low-fat, frozen meals, they comment that I’m lucky–I eat what I want and don’t gain weight. Not true. I eat almost what I want, I exercise to make up for it, and I stay away from things like pre-packaged meals and sugary drinks.

I realize this isn’t feasible for everyone, and who am I to tell you how to live. But if you do want advice? Enjoy what you eat. Appreciate it. Especially if it’s sardines and avocado mashed onto crusty bread and doused with olive oil.

p.s. If you have questions about my diet, ask me in the comments section. I promise to be honest.
For example:
Allison, what do you eat for breakfast?
I don’t really eat breakfast (gasp!). I’m not hungry in the mornings, and why should I eat when I’m not hungry?

Sardine and Avocado Toast
One serving. (Adapted from Alton Brown)

1/2 ripe avovado
1 tin sardines in olive oil
Freshly baked bread
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Brush bread with olive oil and toast until golden. Scoop out avocado into a small bowl and mash with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt.

Mash sardines into another bowl. Spread sardines onto your bread, and top with avocado. Drizzle olive oil and a tad more lemon juice on top. Alternatively, you can top with the leftover oil from the sardine tin.

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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy February 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm

How ironic I stumbled upon this right now. I had sardines for lunch today. I love them, but unfortunately have office mates who turn their noses up (idiots). Never thought to add avocado. Thanks!


Katie February 28, 2010 at 7:05 pm

A few things…
1) I completely identify with you here—my blog is called the thin chef, and not because I make food that makes you thin, but because I’m lucky to be thin and still eat all the time. But I (a) work out and don’t eat crappy junk and (b) have noticed lately that I need to moniter what I eat. Yuck! I hate it, but I do work that much harder to make sure I can still eat what—and as much as I—want.
2) I have a tin of sardines I brought home from Paris a few months ago that I’ve been saving for something delicious…and so I think this might be perfect. Avocados are so fab right now in the market.


Mary April 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I finally brought in a giant avocado from the market, la farine loaf and a tin of sardines into work the other day. Initially, I was a little worried that the sardines would be too much. but, oh was i wrong! the creaminess of the avocado cut the saltiness of the fish perfectly. i added a bit of hot sauce, which was delicious. my fellow phd students’ mouths were watering, so I ended up sharing and finishing entire loaf in 20 minutes. I love the fact that sardines are low on the (fish) food chain, and are thus more environmentally friendly to eat than its larger kin. I love the freshness and simplicity of the recipe. the perfect lunch!


Rachel April 16, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Good wholesome food is meant to be enjoyed savored..not weighed and portioned. Eat what you love, love what you eat, and do what you need to do to keep your body healthy.


Jonny Hamachi May 5, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Welcome to the Society!


Jill May 12, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I have found that I love sardines, but if you aren’t the one eating them, they can be a little offensive. So my husband and I always try to crave them together. :)


Jennifer September 13, 2010 at 8:55 pm

We had this the most delicious combo at Contigo in SF, what an awakening!


Judy September 24, 2010 at 12:15 am

yes to exercise! i felt so much better with myself after i started jogging frequently. it made eating all that much better, psychologically speaking. i didn’t feel guilty indulging in my favourite pastas and eating rice (moderately, of course), and it just feels GOOD. what can i say. making time to jog at least twice a week is the best thing i’ve ever done in the last year or two. including cooking more at home, and stopping eating all that junk food!


Kate September 30, 2010 at 10:41 am

It was due to Alton’s show and numerous blogs assuring me “it would be alright” that I tried sardines this week.

I can’t imagine why I never did before! I love tuna, I even love anchovies on a salad or over veggies, so why did I think the sardines would be awful? They are just really, really rich tuna — no mayo required.

My grocer had rock-hard pitiful avocados, so I had a tub of really guacamole. I made rustic toast, smooshed the sardines on the toast, covered with guacamole, onions and cilantro.

It was fantastic.

I bought several cans and this will be a go-to protein for me. I hope to find other ways to eat it besides with avocado. Healthy, but still fattening!


Wiley September 5, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Thanks, this was really a fantastic read. So when is your next post coming? I can’t wait :)


Syd May 29, 2012 at 9:13 am

I just stumbled on your blog when I was looking for inspiration for my sardines lunch. My wife can’t stand them, so I don’t make them a priority, but they are tasty.

Your comment “I go to the gym, and I work hard. I run under 8 minutes per mile, I pile on the resistance in spin class, and I lift until I can’t in the weight room. I do this because I love to eat…” completely echos my own. I think this is the best way to have a healthy relationship with great food.


Danielle V February 6, 2013 at 8:09 am

I’m a new reader of your blog, and so glad I found this! Just picked up avocados and sardines at the grocery store and I’m so excited to make this for lunch.

Your lifestyle is an inspiration!


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