Holiday Food For Thought

A time for family and good cheer, the holiday season is nearly upon us. With this time of year in full swing, we know that many indulging meals and treats will be served and consumed.  Before your cooking and feasting commence for the holidays, take a look at these ingredients that contain eye-nourishing nutrients and consider incorporating more of them in your spread.

This article provides nine excellent foods that contain nutrients which may benefit the eyes.

Spinach

A leafy green vegetable that is a rich source for nutrients including vitamins A, B, C and K, spinach can also benefit the eyes. This low-calorie food contains an abundant supply of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that cumulate in the eyes, nutrients that may help to prevent cataracts or macular degeneration.

Spinach Dip Recipe

Dip Ingredients

  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup of Mayonnaise
  • 1 9 oz box of frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
  • 1 6 oz jar of artichoke hearts
  • 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • ½ t Italian seasoning
  • 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ c shredded parmesan cheese

Biscuit Crust

  • 1 16.3 oz can of biscuits
  • 4 oz block of mozzarella (cubed)
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 t Italian seasoning
  • 2 T shredded parmesan cheese

Steps

  1. Heat oven to 350. Spray 12 inch ovenproof skillet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl blend dip ingredients until well mixed. Set aside
  3. Separate biscuits into halves (16 total). Place one cube of cheese in the center of each piece. Fold edges of the dough over the cheese and press firmly to seal. Place around the edge of the skillet with the pinched edges facing down.
  4. In a small bowl mix the melted butter and 1 t of Italian seasoning. Brush the biscuits with the mixture.
  5. Bake 25 minutes. Sprinkle 2 T of parmesan cheese over the biscuits. Bake 3-5 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Pumpkin

Pumpkins and pumpkin spice everything indicates the holiday season. Aside from bringing basic joy this time of year, a single serving of pumpkin provides a significant percentage of daily nutrients. Nutrients in pumpkins include zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin- all of which connect with vision and overall health.

Pumpkin Pie Lush Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pouch (17.5 oz) oatmeal cookie mix (mixed according to directions)
  • ⅓ c butter, melted
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese
  • ¾ c canned pumpkin
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 2 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 12 oz container of frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 4 oz boxes vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 c cold milk
  • 2 ¼ c caramel sauce

Steps

  1. Heat oven to 375. Make and bake cookies as directed. Cool completely.
  2. Use a food processor or blender to process cookies into coarse crumbs. Stir in melted butter until well blended. In ungreased 9×13 pan, press cookie crumb mixture firmly in bottom. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat cream cheese, pumpkin, powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in 2 c of whipped topping. Spread over cookie crust.
  4. In medium bowl, beat dry pudding mix and milk. Beat in carmel sauce. Spread over cream cheese mixture. Drop remaining whipped topping by spoonfuls over the pudding layer and spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
  5. When ready to serve. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

Green Beans

Providing concentrated amounts of mounts of fiber, folate, and many minerals green beans are an excellent source of vitamin C. Constantly forming in the body, free radicals can contribute to eye disease. Noted for its help in protecting the eyes from damaging,  vitamin C can help combat free radicals. Thereby, it may lower the risk of developing significant eye conditions.

Protein-rich foods provide the best source of dietary zinc. Eating plenty of dietary zinc may help with night vision. Meats, including turkey, are high in zinc. If following a vegetarian diet, a person may opt to replace the turkey with tofu, food that also offers a useful amount of zinc.

Green Bean Casserole Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 10 1/2 ounces oz can  of cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ c milk
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked cut green beans
  • 1 ⅓ French fried onions

Steps

  1. Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cuponions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.
  2. Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling.  Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.
  3. Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

Salmon

Looking to try something new this holiday season? Many people opt for salmon as a turkey alternative. Aside from providing versatility to holiday menus, salmon also serves as a source of astaxanthin which is a nutrient with wide-reaching benefits. Of these benefits, is its power to reduce damaging oxidation in the body which slows degeneration. Salmon is also high in omega-3 fatty acids which may also protect vision.

Glazed Lemon-Pepper Salmon Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs salmon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • ¼ c brown sugar
  • ¼ c  soy sauce
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 t sea salt
  • ½ t pepper

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place salmon atop of foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold sides of the aluminum foil around the salmon.
  2. Whisk the olive oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together. Pour over the salmon. Seal up the salmon in the aluminum foil.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until salmon is fully cooked. Remove the foil and baste the fish with the juices in the foil. Broil 3-5 minutes. Garnish with lemon slices and chopped parsley.

Carrots

Carrots have a planted reputation for being the root vegetable for the eyes. For a good reason, this vegetable is a source of Vitamin A (also known as retinoic acid). Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin with powerful antioxidant properties and can help maintain healthy eyesight and protect against cataracts.

Tender and Sugar Glazed Carrot Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb peeled carrots
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T butter

Steps

  1. Slice carrots into 1/4-inch slices. In skillet, combine carrots, chicken broth, 1 T of sugar and the salt. Cover skillet and allow to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are nearly tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Uncover the skillet and let the carrots cook until majority of liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in butter and the 2 T of sugar. Continue to simmer and stir until carrots are completely cooked and tender, about 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Whole Grains

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin found in whole grains. Riboflavin bears particular importance for vision because of its benefits to the retina. A way to keep a turkey juicy and flavorful while baking, many holiday dressings also contain whole-grains.

Whole Grain Stuffing Recipe

Ingredients

  • Loaf of whole-grain bread, sliced into 1-in cubes
  • 3/4 c pecans
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 t sage
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1 green apple, diced
  • 2 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 9×13 pan. On a large cookie sheet, toast bread cubes for around 15 min, stirring halfway through. Pour the bread crumbs into a mixing bowl. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for 8 min. Let cool then chop the pecans into course pieces.
  2. In good-sized skillet, melt butter. Add onion, celery and meat; cook over moderate heat, about 10 minutes. Add the seasoning and cook about 1 minute. Scrape the sausage into the bowl with the bread.
  3. Mix in the chopped pecans and apple into the bowl with the bread. In a seperate mixing bowl, whisk the chicken broth and egg. Pour over this over the bread mixture and add 2 t salt and 1/2 t of pepper. Toss. Scrape into the baking dish and cover with foil. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (preferably overnight).
  4. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake the stuffing for around 30 min. Remove foil and bake for about 30 more min. Serve.

Blueberries

With numerous health benefits, blueberries also contain carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin as well as anthocyanins (eye-nourishing phytonutrients). The antioxidants found in these tiny fruits may improve night vision and help to maintain general eye health. Blueberries have also been found to reduce inflammation in the eye.

Creamy Blueberry Pie

Ingredients

  • 3 c fresh blueberries
  • 1 9 in pie crust

Custard Ingredients

  • 1 c white sugar
  • ⅓ c all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c sour cream

Streusel Ingredients

  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ c all-purpose flour
  • ¼ c butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place the blueberries in the pie shell and set aside.
  2. Combine 1 c sugar, ⅓ c flour and salt. Add eggs and sour cream, stirring until blended. Pour the sour cream custard over blueberries.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine ½ c sugar and ½ c flour. Cut in butter with pastry blender until a mixture appears to be a coarse meal. Sprinkle over the pie.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for about an hour or until lightly browned. Cool and eat with whipped topping.

Sweet Potatoes

A staple for many holiday feasts, sweet potatoes are also a source of vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and fiber. Additionally, sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, a nutrient that may help prevent dry eyes and night blindness.

Maple-Bacon Sweet Potato Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 T butter
  • ¼ t salt
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • ⅓ c crumbled bacon
  • 1 t thyme

Steps

  1. Heat oven to 400. Coat 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Poke sweet potatoes several times and place on microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for about 5 minutes.
  3. Cut sweet potatoes into ⅛ in slices (leaving the bottoms). Place on the prepared baking dish and brush with butter. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Bake about an hour or until tender. Brush with remaining butter. Brush with syrup and top with bacon and thyme.  

It is possible to enjoy the holidays without overindulging. With a wealth of food options often available, the best way to stay healthy this holiday season is to fill up on healthy foods such as lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruit (as recommended by your doctor).  All in all, consult with your doctor about your diet, make good choices and enjoy your holiday meals.

 

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