Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yesterday, I learned yet another reason to follow the Mediterranean diet — it helps fight depression. By nature, I am a half-full-glass person, but as the days of driving to and from work in the dark quickly approach, a diet that calms and keeps life in balance is appealing.

The latest study is from Spain, was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry journal, and tracked 11,000 people. Those who followed the Mediterranean diet — a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish and olive oil — enjoyed a 30 percent reduction in the risk of depression. What the study did not take into account was the environment of the people studied — a sunny climate with long days — so the study might be a bit flawed.  

But even taking that into account, there is no downside to following this way of eating. Past studies have said it reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma and cancer. Doctors Roizen and Oz, in their bestseller, "You on a Diet," said that those who follow a Mediterranean-like diet naturally ate foods that keep them sated: more fiber; higher amounts of good-for-you Omega 3 fats such as olives, fish and nuts; and more than double their previous consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The doctors write in the book: "The 'good-for-YOU-foods-group' (those following the Mediterranean diet), ate the foods we recommend in the YOU Diet, didn't obsess about calories, and enabled their bodies to do what they're supposed to do: regulate the chemicals that are responsible for hunger and for satiety."

Definitely worth a try — on my quest for waist management!

Mediterranean Fish with Tomatoes, Oranges and Olives
This is an old recipe of mine, one I haven't thought about for years. But it is lovely, and perfect for a weekday night, when time is at a premium. Although this recipe calls for a thick-cut white fish, such as halibut, grouper, mahi-mahi or monkfish, any white fish works, so buy whatever is on sale and looks freshest. When buying fish, please give it the sniff test. If it smells too fishy or ammonia-like, leave it at the market. Fish should smell like the sea. If you use a thinner-cut fish, such as sole or snapper, cut the baking time.

The perfect way to cook fish is the flawless Canadian Cooking Method. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Measure your fish at the thickest part. For each inch of fish, cook 10 minutes. And yes — you need to take fractions into account. No rounding up or down. So if the fish is 1/2-inch thick, it cooks for 5 minutes. Fish continues to cook after it leaves the heat, so if you cook it until it looks done, you'll be eating overcooked fish. If the fish is more than a 1/2-inch thick, turn the fish halfway through cooking.

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 14.5-oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, well drained, and cut into dice
8 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest
1 Tblsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. thick-cut fillets, such as halibut, grouper, mahi-mahi, monkfish, or thinner-cut fillets, such as flounder, sole or snapper
  • Preheat the over to 450 degrees. 
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion slices and saute, stirring often, until lightly browned. Add the wine and garlic and saute until the garlic is a bit soft but not brown.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, olives, oregano, zest and orange juice. Taste; add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Portion the fish into four servings. Place in a baking dish. Cover with the tomato/olive/orange mixture.
  • Bake, uncovered, following the Canadian Cooking Method, directions precede
P.S. Thank you to my four followers  — Bill, Jeannie, Elise and Heather. You will never know how much I appreciate your support! One of the columns I did for years at The Advocate and Greenwich Time was Recipe Exchange, so if anyone wants to share a recipe, please feel free to do so. The more voices involved, the better the blog.

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