Let me start by saying that a Stress Free Dinner Party to Comfort a Friend with Depression is not the end of what you can do. Beyond Blue recommends you watch for the signs of depression, listen to your friend’s experiences, talk about what’s going on, and encourage them to seek help. I recommend you also find out more about Depression and make sure you take care of yourself while you are taking care of them.
And just to remind you, I’m not a medical person and I’m not qualified to provide medical advice. These recipes are based on a little research about foods that may help fight depression. But they might not be right for your or your friend.
According to WebMD, studies show a wide variety of nutritional elements that help fight depression:
- Beta-carotene (apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, kumara).
- Vitamin C (blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes).
- Vitamin E (nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ).
- Complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and legumes).
- Tryptophan to boost serotonin (turkey, tuna and chicken).
- Protein to clear your mind and boost energy (beef, fish, poultry milk, dairy and legumes).
- Vitamin B, particularly folate and B12 (vegetables and lean meat).
- Vitamin D, ideally from the sun, but supplemental if not.
- Selenium (legumes, meat, dairy, nuts and seeds, seafood and whole grains).
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (oily fish, flax seeds, canola and soybean oils, nuts, dark leafy green vegetables).
Which when you think about it, is more or less what you should be eating anyway in terms of a healthy diet.
It seems that some depressed people also have problems with alcohol and sometimes caffeine. You know your friend’s situation better than me, so I’m going to suggest some matching drinks and leave it up to you to decide.
Some people stress when events turn a little formal, so I suggest your Stress Free Dinner Party to Comfort a Friend with Depression takes a very casual everyday approach. And simple arrangements mean that you will be better able to focus on your guests.
As always, six guests invited to arrive at 6.30 for 7.00 pm.
6:30 Apéritif: Mixed Nuts with Champagne
Buy a mixture that includes almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts. Try to get some that are roasted, but not salted, or at least not heavily salted.
7.00 Entrée: Bean and Tuna Salad with Rose
Add two bay or sage leaves to a pot of salted water and bring to the boil. Add two cups of shelled fresh beans (e.g., borlotti or cannellini) and cook for 20 minutes.
Make the dressing by whisking 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Finely slice a red onion and 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley. Rinse and dry a tablespoon of capers.
Finely chop 170 g (6 oz) sushi grade tuna and place in a bowl with a little dressing, some onion and a few capers.
When the beans are cooked, drain them and discard the leaves. Stir in the remainder of the dressing, onions, parsley and capers.
To serve, top a handful of spinach leaves with a large spoon of beans and a small spoon of tuna. You can serve hot or room temperature.
If you can’t access fresh beans, you could use dried or tinned. And if you’re not fond of sushi, you could grill the tuna or use tinned.
8.00 Main: Poached Fish on couscous with Pinot Grigio
Roughly chop 2 large onions, 2 large tomatoes, 1/3 cup of black olives and enough rosemary leaves to produce 2 tablespoons. Thinly slice a large lemon.
Put half the onion in a pot with a tightly fitting lid, layer with half the tomatoes, half the lemon, then a third of the rosemary and a little salt and pepper. Top with 1 kg (2 lb) swordfish steaks (or tuna, halibut, snapper or shark). Then layer more salt and pepper, half the remaining rosemary, a layer of lemon, tomato and onion. Finish with a touch more salt and pepper and the rest of the rosemary. Tuck 2 bay leaves and 4 sprigs of thyme around the sides of the pot and pour a cup of Pinot Grigio over the top.
Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
If you prefer, you could bake in a 190 °C (375 °F) oven for 90 minutes.
Couscous: The couscous is mostly to suck up the juices, so this mix will seem a little dry. Add 2 cups of boiling fish or chicken stock to 2 cups of instant couscous, cover and leave for about five minutes. Stir in some olive oil, lemon zest and a squeeze of juice along with some chopped olives, sliced shallots and some chopped parsley.
To serve, put a large spoon of couscous on the plate and top with the fish mixture.
9.00 Dessert: Dried Fruit Compote, and Muscat
Preheat the oven to 175 °C (350 °F).
Put 700 g (1½ lb) dried apricots and figs in a large bowl and cover with boiling water for 15 minutes.
Butter a shallow ovenproof dish.
Add a cup of walnuts to a blender with ¼ cup sugar and pulse until the nuts are coarsely chopped.
Make a syrup by heating ¼ cup of sugar in a cup of water for five minutes.
Drain the fruit and add to the buttered dish. Top with the syrup, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the nut mixture and bake for another 15 minutes.
Serve with natural yoghurt.
If you choose to bake the fish, you can simmer the drained fruit in two cups of syrup for 20 minutes and sprinkle unsugared chopped nuts on top of the yoghurt.
10.00 Your friend’s favourite cheese with Coffee and Port
Keep it simple with one cheese, and some seed crackers.
5.00 Prepare the fruit compote. Cook for the first 20 minutes.
5.30 prepare the fish, but don’t start cooking yet
5.45 prepare the bean and tuna salad
6.30 guests arrive!
6.55 plate up the salad and serve
7.45 cook the fish and make the couscous.
8.45 cook the compote for the last 15 minutes
9.00 serve the compote
10.00 serve coffee