After a month of being fully vegetarian, I went to the doctor with symptoms of extreme fatigue, dizziness, trouble concentrating and finger numbness. It was so scary because I had never felt so tired and sick in my whole life, not even throughout pregnancy or chemo. I literally had to lie down every 20 minutes and each morning I woke up with dread for the day despite sleeping 9 hours. I thought my cancer had returned to my brain (this constant thought of disease and death looms over every single cancer patient, so friends, please stop asking me if I'm better yet), but it turns out I had a severe iron and vitamin D deficiency. Who would've thought that this tiny little mineral that I never paid attention to before would make me feel like dying??? So, despite all my hard efforts at maintaining a strict and clean diet, I had no choice but to resume a more balanced diet for the short term. I was given an iron transfusion (omg guys....$$$$$$$$$$) which gave me ptsd flashbacks to the chemo chair, and iron supplements, but reliance on supplementation is not the best way to go in my book. Weighing the pros and cons from what I've read about cancer recurrence, I feel like vitamin D supplements are maybe worth it because insufficient vitamin D is linked to prevalence of cancers, and I simply can’t get enough due to lack of sunlight exposure. But a recent book I read explained that iron supplements are linked with shorter telomeres (compounds at the end of your chromosomes), which can affect cellular function and aging. In this case, it is arguable that the occasional meat intake may be more beneficial for me. I mean, I could try harder at being vegetarian by consuming those healthy sources of iron like nuts, beans, legumes etc. that I don't particularly enjoy eating, but the mental pressure I have when I don't meet the nutritional requirements and feel unwell and am unsure whether I have cancer again is just way way way too heavy a burden for me. I was so disappointed that what I thought was right was actually wrong for me, and that what worked for others didn’t work for myself. I doubted my body and my efforts once again, but I quickly stopped myself, reminding myself that the ebbs and flows of life are there to teach you to surrender. I hate it so much when i speak in bumper sticker cliches but one of the most important lessons of life is to learn to let go of things that don’t work out for you - relationships, ponytails, (and now a new one) diets that make you suffer.
So after months of preaching a plant based diet, ya girl here is now eating some meat and fish (technically fish is a meat) again. Preferably sustainable organic grass fed or wild sources. I used to have a stick up my ass and insist on consistency and never give up and doing things the best way, but now i really do love myself too much to care. Guys, mental health is just SO much more important than anything else in this world.
I feel like Fish en Papillote is a super simple dish that many beginner cooks may have tried at home already, but this green onion pesto really turned it up a notch for me. Having a sauce that you both cook and add raw after cooking gives the fish more depth of flavor, and green onions are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants. I suppose you could add a regular basil pesto to the fish, but green onions are much cheaper to buy and it is so much easier for the grocery run without the nuts and cheese. I also have to say that steaming food (although in an oven, this dish is technically steamed inside the baking parchment) makes for horrendous colors especially if the fish is pale. The addition of the green sauce post steaming makes the whole dish so vibrant and appetizing again! One tip I would strongly suggest for this recipe is to be careful not to over-lemon. Other recipes often suggest using a lot of lemon, but I would suggest using no more than 4 thin slices over your potatoes, and squeezing no more than a small half of a lemon‘s juice into the pesto if you want the lemon to be an accompaniment rather than the star of the dish.
GREEN ONION PESTO
4 bunches (ALOT) of onions
2 cloves of garlic
6 tbsp olive oil
lemon juice of small half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Blitz all ingredients together in a blender. I used my Avent baby blender for this job.
FISH EN PAPILLOTE
1 potato per package (sliced thinly)
1 slice of any white fish
small bunch of asparagus
4 thin slices of lemon
Preheat oven to 200°c
Lay out 3 pieces of parchment paper overlapping each other by half.
In the middle of the parchment paper, line 2 rows of potatoes. Place the lemons on top of the potatoes. Place the veggies on top of the lemons. Place the fish on top of the veggies, and lastly put 2 heaping tablespoons of green onion pesto on the fish.
Wrap the paper tightly so that no liquid can come out, either by folding the ends multiple times on all sides, or by tying with a string.
Place in oven and bake for 8-10mins depending on the thickness of the fish, no more than 10 mins or else the veggies will overcook and brown.
Once cooked, transfer everything to a plate and add more green onion pesto to the fish.
Make the pesto before you assemble the papillote so it has time for the flavors to meld together.
In the photo of my dish I added spinach, because I literally add it to everything due to my iron deficiency lol. But I don't recommend it for this dish because baking it will overcook the spinach and turn it brown. Use hard veggies for this dish only.