Independent Eye Care

Bountiful eye health with this harvest time classic

My mother had health issues and even though I was the youngest of three, the responsibility of cooking for the family fell on my shoulders. At 7 years old, I began my cooking career making pizza.
Published 12.8.2022

Cooking at that age was quite the adventure! Mom would guide me through the steps, telling me which bowl or pot I would need, and then back and forth I would go between the bedroom and kitchen. And yes, there was carpet between the kitchen and my mother’s bedroom.

To make the pizza dough, get the brown bowl and put some warm water in it. (Did you know “some” is an actual measurement?) Then the yeast was added and stirred. I let it rest before making a trail of flour on my trek to check with Mom. I could go on about burning water and other culinary mishaps but I think you get the idea. This is how my love of cooking began.

My Education

Years later, I earned a BS degree in Visual Science. Then, I went to Pacific University, College of Optometry studying all aspects of eyecare. After graduating in 1984, I was in general practice for many years. In 2013, I went to an ocular nutrition symposium associated with the American Academy of Optometry. The lecturers were presenting studies demonstrating the positive relationship between specific nutrients and their support of eye wellness.

It was during those lectures that the concept for Visionary Kitchen: A Cookbook for Eye Health began. Why not cook for eye health? So I began writing lists of foods that were rich in the nutrients that support eye wellness. From these food lists, I created the recipes. My eye wellness, nutrition and cooking philosophy is to create dishes you and your family will enjoy together. Relax and enjoy the process of cooking. Don’t worry about the dish being perfect because it is made with love and with the health of your family in mind.

Nutrition for Eye Health

What is important nutritionally to support eye wellness? This is a great question and has several important concepts.

- Nutrients that support general eye wellness
- Nutrients that support macular wellness
- Nutrients to ease dry eyes
- An anti-inflammatory diet
- Nutrients that support visual skills

Ingredients and Food Preparation

The method of food preparation influences the nutritional content of the final dish. As an example, a baked potato will retain minerals, fiber, some vitamins and antioxidants. When a potato is frenched fried there is exactly zero antioxidants that remain.

Herbs and spices are nutritional powerhouses for eye health. Fresh herbs are a wonderful source of vitamin C. Parsley and cilantro are more than a garnish, they actually support eye wellness. The process of drying herbs concentrates the fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K, although it diminishes the water soluble vitamin C and B.

Make your kitchen into a Visionary Kitchen with knowledge and deliciousness!

Autumn Acorn Squash©

  • 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 recipe Italian Dipping Sauce©

4 servings

  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Rub cut sides with olive oil. Place squash cut side down onto a glass baking dish.
  • Bake for 40 – 60 minutes until tender and easily pierced with a paring knife.
  • While the squash are roasting, prepare Italian Dipping Sauce.
  • Remove the tender squash from the oven. Before serving, spoon 1 T of the dipping sauce onto each half. Serve hot or room temperature.

Nutritional facts per serving: calories 205kcals; total fat 11.7g; saturated fat 1.7g; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 232mg; total carbohydrates 25g; dietary fiber 3g; sugars 2g; protein 3g; vitamin A 19%; calcium 10%; vitamin C 44%; iron 10%

Dry eye support: vitamin A, beta carotene, lutein+zeaxanthin; vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, folate, dietary fiber

Italian Dipping Sauce©

  • 3 T Italian flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 1 T mixed Italian herbs, dried
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T Parmesan OR Romano cheese, finely grated
  • 2 T sundried tomatoes, minced (optional)

6 Servings

  • Combine all ingredients.
  • Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional facts per serving: calories 99kcals; total fat 9.2g; saturated fat 1.3g; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 225mg; total carbohydrates 3g; dietary fiber 0g; sugars 2g; protein 1g; vitamin A 3%; calcium 3%; vitamin C 4%; iron 2%

Dry eye support: vitamin A, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein+zeaxanthin; vitamins E, K; phytonutrients: eugenol, apigenin, allicin, benfotiamine, rosmarinic acid, thymol

Dr. Sandra Young
Dr. Sandra Young, Optometrist / Cookbook Author
Dr. Young is preparing recipes specially designed to promote eye health & wellness. She is a member of the Ocular Wellness & Nutrition Society. Creating recipes and writing cookbooks blends her love of cooking with her profession of eye care. The award winning author has over 50 years of experience in the kitchen. She has experience catering both large and small events. Dr. Young is a graduate of Pacific University, College of Optometry.

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