Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sharon learns that eating yourself better doesn't mean scoffing endless bars of chocolate

Down, down, down...
That's how I've been feeling lately. 

It's a combination of the weather, which has been prematurely dark,dreary and dull, and the effect of this seemingly never-ending recession. It's had a huge impact on my income. A paper I used to write a weekly column and music features and reviews for has gone into liquidation, leaving me with a hole in my bank balance that really hurts. And many of the others have been cutting back on the work they commission from freelancers, which means I've had less work from them too.

It's been difficult and, as a result, I've been overindulging in chocolate - my ultimate go-to comfort food. However, much as I love chocolate, I can't help but notice that it doesn't appear to be helping me. Instead, I am spotty and I feel lethargic. Whisper it: perhaps chocolate isn't the cure to all woes?

Believing as I do in the importance of a good diet and giving your body what it needs, I looked up the best depression-busting foods and found this list: wholegrains, nuts, seeds, oily fish, lean meat, tomatoes, avocados, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, spinach and raw vegetables.

Yum, I thought. Why don't I eat myself better? 

So, that's exactly what I started to do, beginning with last night's dinner, potato and sweet potato wedges, avocado and tomato salsa and lime-zested cod:

Here's how you can eat yourself better too.
Ingredients for four people:
4 medium-sized potatoes
1 large sweet potato
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

4 fillets of cod, weighing approximately 150g each
4 tbsp of breadcrumbs
1 tsp coriander seeds
Zest of one lime
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

3 avocados
12 cherry tomatoes
4 scallions/spring onions
3 tbsp chopped coriander
Juice of half a lime
Salt and pepper

  • I started by going to the greenhouse to pick my tomatoes. (I'm only saying this as it makes me happy. My boyfriend built it all by himself this summer and it's become a lovely place that smells like a tropical summer even on these damp and dreary September days.) So, if you've got a greenhouse, go there. But if you don't, just get down to work. It won't be long before this food puts a smile on your face.
  • Start by pre-heating your oven to 200 Celsius/400 F/Gas Mark 6.
  • Then prepare your potatoes. Peel the sweet potatoes but leave the regular ones as they are. Cut both kinds into wedges and set the sweet potatoes aside. Boil the regular potatoes in salted, boiling water for 10 minutes to soften them a little.
  • Place both varieties of potatoes in an oven proof roasting dish. Try to have them in a single layer if possible as they will become crispier that way. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle over two tablespoons of olive oil and cook for 30 minutes or until crispy at the edges.

  • Now start your fish. Place it on a baking tray which you've lightly oiled so that it won't stick. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Crush your coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar (or with the back of a spoon if that's all you have) and mix with the breadcrumbs. Add the zested lime juice and some salt and pepper. Cover the fish with the breadcrumb mixture and drizzle with a half tablespoon or so of olive oil.

  • The fish will cook in ten minutes in the same oven so place it in the oven ten minutes before the potatoes will be ready.
  • That will give you time to prepare your avocados. Peel and chop your avocados into bite-sized pieces. Halve or quarter your tomatoes depending on their size. Mix in the chopped coriander. Drizzle over the lime juice. Season to taste. 

Plate up and before you know it, there will be a smile on everyone's face.


  1. I love the smell of the inside of our polytunnel and even when it is grey and gloomy outside, it 'feels' better in there. Of course, I do not do any of the gardening or anything. I just like to use it all!
    I think everyone goes through these feelings of doom/gloom and it does feel like the recession is anchoring tighter for a lengthier stay, but this too shall pass. Nice recipe.

  2. Mona: doesn't it just? I hadn't anticipated that having a greenhouse would be so nice. Obviously, it's great having the veggies but the smell and feel of the place is just great. (I don't do the gardening either!)
    And thanks for your words of optimism. It's what I tell myself too but sometimes it's not so easy to believe.

  3. I ate chocolate last night, something I rarely do, really, and felt awful afterwards. So, I agree, it is not the cure-all for our woes. These dishes make healthy reading, never mind healthy eating! Baking fish is a much better idea than frying too.

  4. You rarely eat chocolate, Colette? You and I must be from a different planet!
    Although, as this post suggests, I am making more of an effort to give my body what it needs, not what my chocolate-craving brain thinks it needs!