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Vitamins for Eyes: 5 Recipes to Avoid Macular Degeneration

An estimated 15 million Americans have age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss among adults over age 65. It's never too early to protect your eyesight: These recipes are packed with vitamins to boost your eye health now.

Jason Houston

Macaroni and Cheese

Eye-healthy nutrients: zinc, beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin D

Serves 6

8 ounces elbow macaroni
2 ½ cups coarsely grated carrots
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1¾ cups milk, heated
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon powdered mustard
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Cook macaroni according to package directions until just firm. Add carrots 3 to 4 minutes before the pasta is finished. Using a slotted spoon, skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Drain and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in flour until completely incorporated, about 1 minute, whisking constantly. Add milk and cook until thickened, whisking constantly. Reduce  heat and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, whisking often.

4. Remove from heat and add cheddar cheese, salt, mustard, and pepper. Stir until cheese has melted. Add pasta mixture and stir well to combine. Transfer to baking pan. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter. In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs with melted butter. Stir in Parmesan. Sprinkle on macaroni mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until  top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool just slightly before serving.

Jason Houston

Chicken With Mushrooms and Thyme

Eye-healthy nutrients: vitamin D, beta-carotene, vitamin A

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 ½ to 2 pounds)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat butter and olive oil over high heat in a heavy saucepan/skillet large enough to hold chicken breasts in one layer. When oil smokes, add chicken breasts; season with salt and pepper. Sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and bake until juices run clear when pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

2. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms to the drippings in the pan and cook for about 1 minute over high heat. Add vinegar and thyme, continue cooking for about 1 minute. Add ½ cup of water and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Season to taste. To serve, slice each breast in half crosswise on the diagonal. Coat chicken with sauce and sprinkle with chives.

Jason Houston

Kale Chips

Eye-healthy nutrients: lutein and zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin A

Makes 4 cups

8 cups loosely packed kale, stems removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Wash and dry kale, tear into large pieces.

2. Place dried kale in a bowl and toss to coat with oil. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake until crispy but not burnt, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. To make the seasoning, combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle over kale chips and serve.

Note: If you are taking anticoagulant medication, check with your doctor about your intake of green, leafy vegetables. Eat them in small to moderate amounts at regular intervals rather than irregularly in large amounts.

Jason Houston

Carrot-Cumin Soup

Eye-healthy nutrients: beta-carotene, vitamin A

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2½ cups)
2½ cups vegetable broth
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons toasted cumin seeds, for garnish

1. In heavy saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté onion for 2 minutes, then add garlic and sauté an additional minute. Add carrots, broth, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Purée soup with an immersion blender or, working in batches, purée in blender or food processor until smooth, then return to the saucepan. Whisk in lemon juice and yogurt. Season to taste. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cumin seeds.

Jason Houston

Roasted Butternut Squash and Cranberry Salad

Eye-healthy nutrients: lutein and zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin A

Serves 4-6

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1¼ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
One 5-ounce bag baby greens
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup pecan halves, lightly chopped
¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon freshly snipped chives

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, toss butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, agave nectar, and 1 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake until tender and golden, 20 to 25 minutes, tossing after 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Assemble baby greens, cranberries, pecans, and goat cheese in a salad bowl. Top with butternut squash. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, chives, ¼ teaspoon salt, and extra pepper into a vinaigrette and toss with the salad. Serve immediately.

Get More Vision-Boosting Recipes

Find a variety of small bites, main courses, desserts, and healthy drinks to protect your eye health in the new book, Eat Right For Your Sight. Take a look here.

Recipes from Eat Right For Your Sight: Simple Tasty Recipes That Help Reduce the Risk of Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration, copyright © American Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest