Tuna & Sardine Salad aka “Put Your Big Girl Panties On” Salad

Tuna & Sardine Salad | Vibrant Life Army Wife

Back in the “Before time, in the long long ago” (anyone catch my reference there? If so, let’s be friends), also known as my pre-paleo-ish days when I ate “healthy” low calorie/low fat foods, I used to eat canned tuna smothered in sweet hot mustard. And when I say smothered what I really mean is “would you like some tuna with your mustard?” I stinkin’ loved that stuff. Unfortunately it contains gluten, and probably all sorts of other crap too so I don’t touch it anymore. But anyway, canned tuna was the only fish I would eat and I would only eat it with the sweet hot mustard. And then I became a vegetarian and didn’t eat any fish at all but that’s a story for another day.

Tuna & Sardine Salad | Vibrant Life Army Wife

When I changed my diet to a whole food based diet and started eating meat again I got all geeked out on anything related to nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. One thing I found super interesting was the idea of nutrient density and being a “nutrient seeker” as Liz Wolfe would say. We have already talked about how I eat liver and drink bone broth, both of which are HUGE in terms of nutrient density. But another category of nutrient dense foods that I was seriously lacking in my diet was cold water fatty fish. Seafood contains high amounts of the anti-inflammatory long chain omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. You may be thinking, “Can’t I get omega-3 fatty acids from flax and chia seeds and walnuts or by taking a fish oil supplement?” Sure you can. But the short chain fatty acids found in plant foods (ALA) must be converted to DHA and EPA in order to be used in our bodies and this conversion process is VERY inefficient. And the problem with fish oil supplements is that omega-3 fatty acids are extremely light and heat sensitive, so when the fish oil is processed into a pill form, those fats get damaged and consuming oxidized fats is not healthy (free radicals, anyone?). (source). So, as usual, consuming foods in their whole forms are the best way to ensure you’re getting the nutrients from the food, and that those nutrients are in a form that your body can use.

Tuna & Sardine Salad | Vibrant Life Army Wife

How cute is my sardine napkin? I just couldn’t resist buying it when I found it at Anthropologie!

One fish in particular that I kept hearing about was sardines. They are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than other fish like tuna and are portable, easy to find and pretty inexpensive. So despite my aversion to non-sweet-hot-mustard-doused-seafood, I picked up some wild caught sardines at the grocery store. And then they sat in my cupboard. And they sat a little longer. And they taunted me anytime I opened my cabinet. So they sat a little longer. And then I went to a book signing down in Austin with Liz Wolfe, Diane Sanfilippo, and Bill and Haley of the Primal Palate. Before they got to the actual signing of books they did a Q&A session and I was fortunate enough to be able to ask them a question about those pesky sardines in my cupboard. I asked them how the heck I could make myself eat them. Liz’s answer was to just “be the girl that eats sardines” and Diane told me to “put your big girl panties on.” So that weekend I put my big girl panties on and was the girl who ate sardines. I grabbed a can of sardines, topped them with some sea salt, avocado and hot sauce as they suggested and they actually were pretty tasty.

Tuna & Sardine Salad | Vibrant Life Army Wife

However the idea of eating whole sardines (minus the head and tail but including skin and bones) still kind of weirded me out and I’m sure most of you right now are a little weirded out too. So I decided to make a more traditional tuna salad, but add in the sardines as well to get those additional nutrients. When the tuna and sardines are mixed together with all the other ingredients, you don’t even realize you’re eating sardines because all you taste are all those wonderful flavors that pair so well with the fish. If you aren’t a fan of tuna, then I probably wouldn’t suggest that you eat this salad. But if you’re a fish lover, and especially if you are a fan of tuna salad, you should definitely give this a try. You may just love sardines as much as I have come to love them!

Tuna & Sardine Salad | Vibrant Life Army Wife

4.0 from 1 reviews
Tuna & Sardine Salad
Prep time
Total time
gluten free, grain free, paleo, nut free, 21DSD, Whole 30
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
  • 2 cans tuna
  • 2 cans sardines
  • 1 cup homemade mayo
  • ⅓ cup green onions, chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp dill
  • 1 Tbs brown mustard
  • 1 Tbs dill relish (no sugar added for 21 DSD and Whole 30)
  • Juice form ½ a lemon
  • ¼ tsp kelp granules (optional)
  • 1 Tbs fermented carrots (optional)
  1. Place tuna, sardines and mayo in a large bowl and mix with fork until mayo is incorporated and fish is flaked.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.
  3. Taste and add more salt and pepper as necessary.


Let me know if you’re brave enough to try sardines in the comments. And if you’re already a fan, let me know your favorite way to eat them!

In vibrant health,


8 thoughts on “Tuna & Sardine Salad aka “Put Your Big Girl Panties On” Salad

  1. Tess

    That little sardine napkin is so stinking cute! I wouldn’t be able to pass it up either.
    I love sardines, and just eat them whole out of the can. Sometimes I add hot sauce, but I’m one of those weird people who really likes that fishy taste. If I could only eat seafood, I totally would!

    1. Kiersten Post author

      I am getting used to the fishy tasty but I still can’t eat the sardines plain though. Hot sauce definitely helps!

    1. Kiersten Post author

      HAHA well you could always replace the sardines with more tuna! But I don’t blame you. It was definitely a taste I had to acquire 🙂

  2. Kristen

    You know, I’ve had 3 cans of sardines in my cupboard forrrrever! I really need to put my big girl pants on! I love your sardine towel too, so cute!

    1. Kiersten Post author

      The first time I had them I drowned them in avocado, sea salt, and hot sauce and I just told myself I was going to enjoy them. And I did! It was still a little weird though. This salad takes away the weirdness because it’s just like eating plain ol’ tuna salad 🙂

  3. Dana

    I put my big girl panties on today! I almost took them back off when I opened the can and saw them in there… They were bigger than I had thought! I am AIP so I used some of He Won’t Know Its Paleo mayo from her blog, and left out most of the ingredients so mine was tuna, sardines, mayo, salt, and lemon. I might go grate in some carrots for extra crunch. Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. Kiersten Post author

      Haha that’s awesome! I understand the fear when opening a can… they are kinda freaky looking in there. Glad you found a combo that worked for you, being on AIP and all 🙂

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