Bela-Olhão Sardines

We freely admit we almost turned our noses up at the idea of sardines as a tasty treat for outdoor adventures. Blame it on childhood memories of fishing. Well, our whole outlook changed when we dug into our first can of Bela-Olhão sardines.

We freely admit we almost turned our noses up at the idea of sardines as a tasty treat for outdoor adventures. Blame it on childhood memories of fishing. Those days with Dad were awesome, but they also included a lakeside menu of questionable things from cans, like Spam, Vienna sausages, potted meat, and yeah, sardines. There were serious doubts about eating something that looked like it should be attached to a hook and flung into the water as bait. And how about that sardine smell? We'd describe it with two letters: P.U.

Well, our whole outlook changed when we dug into our first can of Bela-Olhão sardines. First of all, these high-quality sardines don't produce a nasty odor because they're canned within eight hours of being harvested. The typical sardines you buy in the store aren't nearly as fresh when canned, and they are sometime packaged in fish oil. Bela-Olhão sardines are packed in olive oil, which is much more appetizing, less smelly and is healthy to boot.

Bela-Olhão sardines are imported into the United States by Blue Galleon, a Massachusetts company owned by foodies who consider their products gourmet fare. The company also places a high value on sustainability and being environmentally responsible. Bela-Olhão sardines have all natural ingredients and are harvested sustainably from Olhão, a fishing village on the southern coast of Portugal near waters with little pollution.

Most important, these sardines are downright tasty and available in a variety of flavorings. You can get lemon-flavored sardines in extra virgin olive oil, sardines in tomato sauce, and a favorite of many testers -- sardines in cayenne-flavored extra virgin olive oil. They're sweet and smoky, with enough spice to liven things up without setting your tongue on fire. That's far tastier than old-school sardines slathered in French's mustard. You can also go to to find recipes, such as sundried tomato and sardine crostini, and soon the site will have recipes that can be prepared easily while camping.

You may not be accustomed to packing sardines for your trip into the wild, but people in the paddling community have long considered them a convenient, portable food. And you might be surprised at the eclectic mix of adventurers who usually have sardines in their backpack. At a recent Outdoor Retailer trade show, we ran into mountaineer and guide Kurt Wedberg who said he loves to pack along sardines on summit days because they're sort of a super-food, packing lots of nutrition and energy in a small package.

For example, a can of cayenne-flavored sardines has two 1/4-cup servings, with each serving offering 110 calories, 7 grams of fat and 13 grams of protein. Sardines are also a very good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which can reduce high blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. They're also a good source of calcium and vitamins, including B3 and B12. Basically, sardines build brain power, strong bones and they keep your heart healthy.

So, we highly recommend that you cast off your preconceived notions about sardines and give these a try. To steal a line from the Quaker Oats commercial, "It's the right thing to do, and the tasty way to do it." Just don't get us started on oatmeal -- more bad childhood memories.

SNEWS® Rating: 5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $2.50 per can

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