- a blog about food and value

Recipe: Banish the blues

1202823_585788971Red wine is bad for you, oh wait now it’s good for you. Chocolate is your enemy, oh wait it could save your life. There is always mixed reports on the benefits and hazards of foods and it’s very confusing.

The latest research shows that sticking to a Mediterranean diet may help prevent depression.

After studying over 10,000 healthy adults over four years; researchers at the Universities of Las Palmas and Navarra in Spain, found that depression was less likely to develop in people who followed a diet high in fruit, vegetables, cereals and low in red meat. I wonder if they took into consideration that it’s mostly sunny in Spain and doesn’t rain ALL the time which is really depressing.

The participants took part in questionnaires and the researchers calculated their compliance to the Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP). They discovered that those with the highest adherence to the MDP were more than 30% less likely to develop depression. Some of the key aspects of the Mediterranean diet are:

  • High intake of vegetables, fruits and cereals
  • Moderate to high intake of fish
  • Low intake of saturated fats
  • High intake of unsaturated fats, such as olive oil
  • Low intake of dairy products and meat
  • Modest intake of alcohol, mostly wine

I have read before about the wonders of a Mediterranean diet and following a regime rich in vegetables and fruit and low in saturated fats can certainly have it’s benefits but can it really help prevent diabetes and asthma, cut the risk of lung disease, reduce the risk of dementia and even extend your life as is often claimed?

Could this really be a super diet?

Well in light of this latest research, I’m taking no chances and cleaning up my act. Here is a delicious fish recipe served a la mallorquina which basically means it is cooked with vegetables piled on top. Served with a glass of red wine (a glass now, not a bottle) this dish incorporates most of the features discussed. Serves 6.

Pargo Rojo a la mallorquina (Redsnapper with vegetables)


  • 1 ½ lemons
  • 2 artichokes
  • 1 whole red snapper, cleaned (or any other lean, white fleshed fish)
  • Salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch fennel leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch thick slices
  • 1 ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, cut into ¼ inch-thick-slices
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons fine dried bread crumbs
  • 1 cup fish stock


  1. Squeeze the juice from a lemon half into a bowl filled with water and set aside.
  2. Prepare the artichokes by peeling off the tough, dark outer leaves, cut off the stem and the top two-thirds of the leaves, and quarter the artichoke lengthwise. Using a spoon, remove and discard the fuzzy choke, then cut the quarters into small pieces and slip them into the lemon water.
  3. Season the fish inside and outside with the salt and the pepper. Slice the remaining lemon crosswise into 4 slices, and insert the lemon slices and the fennel leaves into the cavity of the fish. Set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven at 200ºC.
  5. In a pan, heat the olive oil over a high heat. Add the potatoes, and fry, turning them occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until they are lightly browned on the outside but still undercooked inside. Remove from the heat and arrange the potatoes on the bottom of a large baking tray. (Make sure the sides of the baking tray are high enough to accommodate not only the fish and vegetables, but also the stock that is added later). Lay the fish on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle the paprika on top of the fish and drizzle with the wine.
  6. Drain the artichokes and pat dry. In a bowl, combine the artichokes, scallions, leek, carrots, Swiss chard, spinach, and tomatoes and stir to mix well. Place the vegetables on top of the fish. Don’t worry if some fall to sides of the fish. Sprinkle the parsley, the chopped fennel, pine nuts, and raisins on top and finally the bread crumbs.
  7. Pour the fish stock evenly over the fish and vegetables, bake for 2 hours, or until the fish is done and the vegetables are tender.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve the fish and vegetables immediately directly from the pan.


  1. One glass of red wine between six? That’s a bit mean.

  2. In science geek/pedant mode (what a glorious combination), I have to point out that when all those headlines claim that “the Mediterranean diet can protect against / reduce your risk of depression”, what they actually mean to say is “the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower incidence of depression, along with Mediterranean culture, climate, social supports, family and working patterns, being a native speaker of a Mediterranean language, having a football team with realistic hope of winning the World Cup, and a host of other things”. This substitution also works for heart disease, dementia, and etc. Out of science gook/pedant mode: the recipe does sound lovely.

  3. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell..heavy sigh! Now where did I leave that crate of wine?

  4. I think the thing that many people seem to forget (including some in the medical profession) when talking about depression is that you have to view the body as a whole. So I suppose what I’m saying is that with depression, yes, there is a chemical imbalance but pharmaceuticals alone do not cure the problem.
    I think it’s important to take a holistic view of depression and realise that medication plays its part, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy or CBT can play an important part, your diet can certainly help, and also your level of fitness. I think it’s important not to just look at one of these areas alone but embrace all approaches.
    And if the Mediteranean diet works….great. Anything that helps should be embraced as part of the overall treatment program