Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Mediterranean Diet Significantly Reduces Depression

Reprinted from an article in Science Tech Daily, May 26, 2022

Young men with a poor diet saw a significant improvement in their symptoms of depression when they switched to a healthy Mediterranean diet, a new study shows.

Depression is a widespread mental health issue that affects roughly 300 million people globally each year. It is a substantial risk factor for suicide, the largest cause of mortality among young people. The 12-week randomized controlled trial, conducted by experts from the University of Technology Sydney, was recently published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

According to lead researcher Jessica Bayes, a Ph.D. candidate at the UTS Faculty of Health, the study was the first randomized clinical trial to examine the influence of a Mediterranean diet on depressive symptoms in young males (aged 18 to 25).

“We were surprised by how willing the young men were to take on a new diet,” Bayes said. “Those assigned to the Mediterranean diet were able to significantly change their original diets, under the guidance of a nutritionist, over a short time frame.”

“It suggests that medical doctors and psychologists should consider referring depressed young men to a nutritionist or dietitian as an important component of treating clinical depression,” she said.

The link between food and mood

The research contributes to the emerging subject of nutritional psychiatry, which seeks to investigate the impact of particular nutrients, foods, and dietary patterns on mental health. The study’s diet was rich in colorful vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, as well as oily fish, olive oil, and raw, unsalted nuts.

“The primary focus was on increasing diet quality with fresh whole foods while reducing the intake of ‘fast’ foods, sugar, and processed red meat,” Bayes said. “There are lots of reasons why scientifically we think food affects mood. For example, around 90 percent of serotonin, a chemical that helps us feel happy, is made in our gut by our gut microbes. There is emerging evidence that these microbes can communicate to the brain via the vagus nerve, in what is called the gut-brain axis.”

“To have beneficial microbes, we need to feed them fiber, which is found in legumes, fruits, and vegetables,” she said.

Roughly 30 percent of depressed patients fail to adequately respond to standard treatments for major depressive disorder such as cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medications. “Nearly all our participants stayed with the program, and many were keen to continue the diet once the study ended, which shows how effective, tolerable, and worthwhile they found the intervention,” Bayes concluded.

Reference: Bayes J, Schloss J, Sibbritt D. The effect of a Mediterranean diet on the symptoms of depression in young males (the AMMEND study): a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2022;116(2): 572-580. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqac106

Pork Schnitzel with Giardiniera

Duck into almost any pub in Australia, and you’ll find schnitzel on the menu—chicken, beef, or pork. “Schnittys,” though nicked from European immigrants, are now one of Oz’s iconic foods. Giardiniera is a versatile Italian condiment that can be used as an antipasto or on eggs, sandwiches (a must-have on Italian beef), and even hot dogs or bratwurst.


For the giardiniera:

  • 1 banana pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cauliflower florets
  • 1 celery rib from the center of the stalk, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse (kosher or sea) salt
  • 1/3 cup diced green pitted olives (like Castelvetrano)
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds (optional)

For the pork:

  • 2 boneless pork chops (each 9 to 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


Step 1

Make the giardiniera: In a medium bowl, add the banana peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, and salt. Toss well to combine, cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Step 2

Add the olives and garlic; toss well. In a small pot, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, black pepper, and celery seeds, if using. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Pour over the vegetable mixture. Transfer to a small covered bowl or jar. Set aside at
room temperature for at least 6 hours, or refrigerate if not using immediately. Will keep for 1 month.

Step 3

Transfer the pork chops to a cutting board and sandwich between two sheets of wax paper. Using the flat side of a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the pork 1/2 inch thick.

Step 4

In a wide bowl, combine the panko, Parmigiano-Reggiano, black pepper, oregano, and salt; mix well. Sprinkle the flour over a large plate and season with salt. In a separate wide bowl, beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt. Working with one chop
at a time, dredge the pork in the flour, followed by the egg mixture, and finally the panko mixture, packing the crumbs onto the pork to adhere. Chill for 30 minutes.

Step 5

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the pork and cook, flipping once, until crispy, golden, and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate or serving platter. Cut the pork into strips and serve hot with lemon wedges and giardiniera on the side, if desired.

Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from Saveur, June 2019

Greek Lamb Chops (Paidakia)

Melbourne, a sister city to Thessaloniki, is home to one of the largest Greek populations outside of Greece and Cyprus. It’s no wonder, then, that the local cuisine thrums with Hellenic influences.


  • 8 large lamb rib chops
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for searing and serving
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed with the flat of a knife blade
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Place the lamb chops in a glass baking dish large enough to hold them. (You may need two dishes.). Make the marinade: In a bowl, combine the 1/3 cup of olive oil with the garlic, mustard, thyme, rosemary, and the lemon zest and juice. Whisk, then pour over the lamb chops. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 8 hours. (If you’re in a rush to get dinner on the table, marinate for 1 hour at room temperature.)

Step 2

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375°F. In the meantime, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, until the pan is hot and the oil is shimmering. Season the chops well on both sides with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, sear the chops in a single layer for about 2 minutes per side, or until nicely browned.

Step 3

Immediately transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Roast the chops for 2 to 5 minutes for medium-rare to medium, longer if you like your lamb well-done. Transfer to a platter or plates. (Do not allow them to remain in the hot skillet.) Tent with foil, and let the chops rest for 5 minutes.

Step 4

Serve the chops with lemon wedges and additional olive oil for drizzling.

Serves 8 — Recipe adapted from

Prawn Tacos with Asian Slaw

Nagi Maehashi is one of Australia’s most popular food bloggers. We were inspired by her recipe for tacos made with prawns, and paired them with one of our favorite Asian cabbage slaws featuring extra virgin olive oil.


For the prawns:

  • 1 pound large prawns or shrimp, peeled (tails, too)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat of a heavy knife
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon pure chile powder, preferably chipotle
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the slaw:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 3 tablespoons honey or agave
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon peeled fresh ginger, finely minced or grated
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha, or more to taste
  • 1/2 pound shredded napa cabbage
  • 1 carrot, trimmed, peeled, and grated
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

For serving:

  • Small corn or flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup pickled jalapeño slices (optional)
  • Your favorite hot sauce


Step 1

Place the prawns in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the lime zest and juice, garlic, olive oil, cilantro, chile powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Whisk to combine, then pour over the shrimp. Marinate for 15 to 20 minutes (no more).

Step 2

In the meantime, make the dressing for the slaw: Combine the extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, salt, and sriracha in a small bowl. Whisk and set aside. Taste for seasoning, adding more sriracha, if desired.

Step 3

Add the cabbage, carrot, scallions, and cilantro leaves to a medium bowl. Pour the slaw dressing (you may not need all of it) over the cabbage mixture and stir gently. Let the slaw sit until the cabbage wilts slightly. Top with sesame seeds.

Step 4

Drain the shrimp and sauté in a hot skillet for about 2 minutes per side, or until opaque and cooked through. (Alternatively, skewer the shrimp and cook on a hot grill.)

Step 5

Serve the shrimp with the tortillas, sour cream, jalapeño chips, if using, hot sauce, and the prepared slaw.

Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from