When it comes to weight loss, there are unfortunately more fad diets than there are real and sustainable results to show for them. There is one diet (or lifestyle, rather) that consistently emerges victorious in the weight-loss and, super importantly, weight-loss maintenance spheres and that, my friends, is the Mediterranean diet (health and science nerds, please see references below).
Several summers ago (pre-kids and pre-sleep deprivation), my husband and I sat by the Mediterranean sea on a tiny island in Provence sipping rose wine and enjoying flaky fish with a tomato tarragon topping. I was blown away (the wine might have had something to do with it, as well as the no kids part :p) but I thought to myself, if THIS is the Mediterranean diet, I’m in!
So as I continue to slowly and healthfully shed the baby weight (much longer and more arduous the second time around – not gonna lie!), I’ve embraced principles of the Mediterranean way of eating. It also happens to be a great way to boost overall health and prevent a host of modern day diseases like heart disease and cancer so I’m happy to get my whole family on board, kiddos included.
What are the hallmarks of this ultra beneficial Mediterranean diet?! The Mediterranean diet that is closely associated with optimal health has the following characteristics:
- Loads of plant-based foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes.
- Plenty of healthy fats, particularly monounsatured fats found in olive oil.
- Polyunsaturated fats found in fatty wild fish.
- Very little saturated fat found in meat and dairy (though some is consumed).
- Very little if any packaged and processed food, and refined sugar.
- Moderate amounts of wine, particularly red wine (unfortunately, there are other studies showing alcohol consumption, even in small amounts, may increase the risk for other diseases like cancer but the dose makes the poison, right? ;)).
- Generous use of fresh herbs (oregano, parsley, basil, tarragon) and spices (like paprika and black pepper)
- Eating with company and joy!
With that inspiration, I present to you a dish that will feel like anything but part of a ‘diet’. The tomato chutney spiked with sharp notes of white pepper and fresh tarragon is zingy and vibrant alongside the mild, paprika-dusted fish. It’s versatile enough so you don’t have to do fish at all (if you don’t want to). Chicken or crusty whole wheat bread would be perfectly delightful partners. Just make sure you don’t forget the rose and the joyful company. Bon appetit!
For the chutney
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (black peppercorns stripped of their outer skins to yield a sharper pepper that’s just brilliant in this dish!)
2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
For the fish
4 fish filets like cod or halibut
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
1-2 teaspoons capers
Preheat the oven to 375F / 180C.
In a medium-sized pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Sautee the shallots until softened for about 2 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes, salt, and white pepper. Cook for 30 minutes, sauteeing every few minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and you have a thick, chutney-like consistency.
While the chutney cooks, sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper, and paprika. Brush with olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 18 minutes until it just begins to flake with a fork.
Stir in the tarragon into the tomato chutney and cook for about a minute until well incorporated. Taste and adjust salt. Spoon the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle with capers. Serve with oven roasted veggies (like the asparagus pictured here) or sauteed green beans. Some roasted potatoes or crusty whole grain bread would complete the meal nicely.