After my bypass surgery, the discharge nurse went over the restrictions and recommendation for a healthy recovery and longer life. One of the recommendations was “heart healthy” eating. When I asked just what do they consider “heart healthy”, the nurse shrugged as though uncertain and replied “Oh you know, Mediterranean.” Really? That’s a pretty broad answer. With the internet and everything under the sun searchable, it’s up to us to do the leg work and become our own advocates.
When I was first diagnosed Diabetic, my doctor referred me to a Nutritionist and placed me in classes to learn the dos and don’ts of Diabetic cooking. It’s amazing how many people are diabetic. The first opening for their 2-hour class was six weeks out. Six weeks was too long to wait. By the time I met with the Nutritionist, there wasn’t much I hadn’t already learned on my own. Naturally knowing and doing are two different things. I still cheat. If I want a slice of cake, I get my blood sugar down by taking an extra long walk. Being active naturally lowers your blood sugar. And after that slice of cake comes a second walk to keep that cake from spreading around my hips. It’s called common sense.
As for a Mediterranean Diet, there is no single definition of the Mediterranean Diet. And just because something says Mediterranean doesn’t mean healthy. By the same token, just because something doesn’t say Mediterranean doesn’t mean unhealthy either. So what is Mediterranean?
A traditional Mediterranean Diet is characterized by foods high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and healthy olive oils. It’s also a way of cooking. So while chicken is in, deep fried not so much. Fish is also important. Fish is heart healthy. As someone with heart issues and blood sugars to control, fish is a must in the key to healthy living. Healthy fish once a week is a good rule to follow.
For us, being Catholics that skip meats on Fridays, it wasn’t much of a stretch to have something in the seafood category one day a week. I will admit we do eat more baked or grilled fish these days, and less time scarfing up shrimp scampi over buttery pasta.
I remember once talking with our family priest about worldly temptations. He said something I will never forget. God gave us the ability to experience joy and pleasure. Everything is good, in moderation. It’s over indulgences and gluttonous behaviors that gets us into trouble.
One of the most overlooked aspects of a healthy diet is dining with friends and family. Sitting down together to break bread and linger over a bottle of wine are key components to a Mediterranean diet. Emotional connections are important to our overall well being. That’s my lecture for the day. Let’s get to cooking so we can get to eating . . .
One Pan Mediterranean Baked Halibut with Vegetables
For the Sauce
2 Lemons, Zest and Juice only
1 cup Extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Garlic, freshly minced
2 teaspoons Dill Weed
1 teaspoon Seasoned Salt, more for later
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
3/4 teaspoon Ground Coriander
For the Fish and Vegetables
1 lb fresh French Beans
1 lb Cherry Tomatoes
1 large Yellow Onion sliced into half moons
1 1/2 lb Halibut Fillet, slice into 1 1/2-inch strips
Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sauce ingredients together. Add the green beans, tomatoes, and onions and toss to coat with the sauce (you can do this in batches if the bowl is too small).
With a large slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the vegetables to the largest rimmed baking sheet that will fit into the oven. Keep the vegetables to one side or one half of the baking sheet and make sure they are spread out in one layer.
Now, add the halibut fillet strips to the remaining sauce, toss to coat. Transfer the halibut fillet to the baking sheet next to the vegetables and pour any remaining sauce on top.
Lightly sprinkle the halibut and vegetables with a little seasoned salt.
Bake in the heated oven for 15 minutes. Then transfer the baking sheet to the top oven rack and broil for another 3-5 minutes, watching carefully. The cherry tomatoes should begin to pop under the broiler.
When ready, remove the baked halibut and vegetables from the oven. Serve immediately.