“Winter was not kind to my body this year.” Those words escaped my lips at the beach last week. It erupted forward before I could self-censor myself and tuck the sentiment away. My cousins, to whom I spoke, quickly tried to argue with compliments, a sweet gesture but the scale doesn’t lie. I’ve put on more weight than I am comfortable carrying around. I hate it. And I especially hate the constant battle with my weight. What happened to the days when my weight was constant? (Yes, I know the answer: age, time, kids, work, stress, rinse, repeat.)
Then one of my cousins suggested we all try the Mediterranean diet, which is more a lifestyle or eating philosophy than diet. I’m familiar with the principals of the Mediterranean diet, which I have loosely followed for several years. In the past few months, I’ve been lax about it … Perhaps that’s to blame for the weight gain. Anyway, I agreed. We’re trying it.
The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the actual diet of folks in the Mediterranean region. Before modeling my own diet after it, I researched it a bit and read The Mediterranean Prescription. Basically, you eat lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Olive oil is used freely. You can dairy in moderation. Fish is eaten several times a week, along with some poultry. Healthy fats and red wine are ok too — in moderation. Red meat is seldom had.
As far as eating styles go, this is something I can really get behind. It’s natural to me to eat lots of fruits and veggies. And 12-grain bread is my absolute favorite. The challenge for me is to eat enough fish. And to eat red meat seldom (I typically have it once a week). But these are things that I can overcome.
Our conversation and collective decision inspired me to pick up flounder fillets when I was at the store this weekend. Flounder is a low mercury fish, and these thin wild-caught fillets were perfect for the recipe I had in mind. This is something I’ve made a few times, using whatever white fish I had handy. It’s good with catfish fillets, cod or tilapia as well.
Basically, the fish is bathed in an olive oil garlic mixture, salted and topped with fragrant thyme. Yes, it sounds like a lot of olive oil, but in reality you don’t eat all that oil — and the flavor it gives is worth it.
Then you bake it until the fish flakes effortlessly when pricked with a fork. Serve it with lemon wedges (yes, it’s required. Lemon and fish is a must). It’s a simple recipe, but one that produces a tender, delicate fish that the kids and I love.
What about you? Do you have an eating philosophy you follow?
Oven Poached Flounder with Garlic and Olive Oil
1 lb flounder fillets (thin fillets — about 1/4 inch thick)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (one for each fillet)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch glass baking dish with cooking oil spray. Rinse the flounder under cool water and arrange in the pan.
Whisk together the olive oil and garlic. Then pour over the flounder. Place a spring of thyme on each piece of flounder.
Salt, to taste, with sea salt.
Slide the baking dish into the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Serve immediately with lemon wedges.