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Mediterranean salad and baked fish can help you on your way to better health

Mediterranean omega-3 diet. Fish steak, olives, nuts and herbs isolated on black background with reflection.
Mediterranean omega-3 diet. Fish steak, olives, nuts and herbs isolated on black background with reflection. Getty Images/iStockphoto

The old matchup between losing weight and gaining it back again is a struggle for me and has been since childhood.

Losing weight is not only healthy, it feels good. Weight loss makes one hum the old tune, “I feel pretty.”

In 2019, weight loss isn’t the objective; it’s feeling good and energetic. I want to amp up my metabolism. If I lose weight, that’s great.

After having the “crud” from Christmas through New Year’s, I felt like a slug, no energy, just tired and sick and tired of being tired.

This time I once again have a partner on this journey, my daughter, who usually shuns anything green except green beans and iceberg salad.

We both love Greek food and the foods of the Mediterranean, so why not try the Mediterranean way of eating. Most call it the Mediterranean Diet, and some health experts and magazines hail it as the perfect diet because it is a balanced diet, uses good oils, makes use of herbs and spices instead of salt, calls for lots of veggies and fruits and limits red meat consumption.

Since we began, Elyssa has surprised herself by enjoying the meals. She and I have breakfast together, such as avocado toast and scrambled egg and three egg whites or whole wheat English muffin with natural peanut butter, cinnamon and banana. Most days we sit at the dining table, eat breakfast, drink a cup of coffee and talk. In the past, we both would grab breakfast and run.

If anything, this is a more relaxed start to the day.

At night, we have the biggest meal of the day, which is what I like. Dinner, not lunch or breakfast, was my favorite, a time to wind down from the day and enjoy good food.

Now we are doing just that. I make dinner most nights and enjoy a flavorful meal that lasts through the evening without even a snack.

The most surprising part is that Elyssa is eating more vegetables and enjoying them. One night, she even ate zucchini. Of course, it was tossed with olive oil, garlic and cumin and grilled on my microwave grill. Then, after grilling, a little parsley, fresh lemon juice and feta cheese were added.

Her comment: “Not bad, I can even eat this.”

To accompany it, I made a Mediterranean baked fish with fresh tomatoes, red onion, garlic, capers, lemon juice, herbs and spices with just a sprinkling of salt and pepper on the fish fillets. We both loved this dish, even if I was heavy-handed with the cayenne.

Good health is so important. I thought I would share a couple of the recipes that we really like. If you are looking for some healthy new recipes, give these a try.

One salad can be layered in a jar with chicken breast slices and taken to work. Another recipe makes a whole wheat spaghetti and shrimp that is packed with flavor much to my surprise.

Readers, if you want more recipes like these, check out the wealth of Mediterranean Diet cookbooks. Some sites offer downloads of several recipes. Joy Bauer’s recipes are some of my favorites at https://joybauer.com or her recipes on www.today.com

MEDITERRANEAN SALAD JAR

In a mason jar, layer lemon dressing (2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, some salt and chopped parsley to taste), chopped cucumber, diced tomato, chopped celery, black olives, chopped artichoke hearts, white beans, feta cheese, chopped romaine and cubed or chopped chicken.

— Recipe by Joy Bauer

Note: We keep this, sans the chicken, in fridge and keep adding to this salad, so we always have some on hand. Elyssa and I both like it as a side salad or main event. And, yes, I am eating the celery.

MEDITERRANEAN BAKED FISH

1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil (Recipe calls for Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil)

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 large tomatoes, diced (3 cups diced tomatoes. Use quality canned tomatoes, if you like)

10 garlic cloves, chopped (Note: Yes, 10, but not overpowering)

1 1/2 teaspoon organic ground coriander

1 teaspoon all-natural sweet Spanish paprika

1 teaspoon organic ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1 1/2 tablespoons capers

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 1/2 pounds white fish fillets such as cod fillet or halibut fillet (wild, if possible)

Juice of 1/2 lemon or more to your liking

Zest of 1 lemon

Fresh parsley or mint for garnish

Prepare the tomato and capers sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, cook for 3 minutes until it begins to turn gold in color, tossing regularly. Add tomatoes, garlic, spices, pinch of salt (not too much) and pepper, capers and raisins. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Pat fish dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides.

Pour 1/2 of the cooked tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 1/2-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange the fish on top. Add lemon juice and lemon zest, then top with the remaining tomato sauce.

Bake in 400-degree heated-oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until fish is cooked through and flakes easily (do not overcook). Remove from heat and garnish with fresh parsley or mint to your liking.

– Recipe from www.themediterraneandish.com

Note: I served this with grilled zucchini cooked with garlic, cumin, lemon juice and a sprinkling of feta cheese. In my oven, the fish was flaky in 15 minutes.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@gmail.com and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.
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