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The Carotenoids Are Coming for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner may stand out as the most carotenoid-happy meal of the year. Green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce and a kale salad to try to offset the inevitable turkey-coma fill the table with color.

Women In Optometry is asking readers to share what is their favorite carotenoid-rich, eye-healthy part of the Thanksgiving meal. Want to share what’s on your table? Email mbijlefeld@jobson.com.

This story will be updated as new ideas come in, so check back often. New recipes will be added to the top.

Thanksgiving Carrots

A favorite dish that Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO, FSLS, FBCLA, of Davis, California, adds to her Thanksgiving table and also eat year-round is this quick carrot recipe. Carrots are good sources of

Dr. Barnett

 lutein and beta-carotene, antioxidants that benefit eye health and protect against age-related degenerative eye diseases. Beta carotene is converted into vitamin A, a nutrient that helps one see in the dark. Thanksgiving carrots are delicious and easy to assemble. Lightly steam carrots, add cumin, garlic, lemon, olive oil and cilantro. Yum!”

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Nitrate-free Bacon

Dr. Hitchmoth

Recommended by Dorothy Hitchmoth, OD,  of New London, New Hampshire, says “This

is one of my favorites –a healthy mix with a little pleasure makes for a perfect Thanksgiving dish. Fat actually helps the absorption of eye, brain and heart-healthy carotenoids found in vegetables!1

Brussels sprouts. Photo: Getty images

Sweet Potato Casserole

Dr. Poteet

A simple and delicious sweet potato casserole “is my signature Thanksgiving dish,” says Julie Poteet, OD, MS, CNS, FONS, of Acworth, Georgia. “Sweet potatoes are brimming with beta-carotene, which is converted by the body to vitamin A, necessary for both a healthy ocular surface and retinal health. A true Southerner often finds a way to incorporate pecans into their favorite dishes, so I top off the sweet potato casserole with a healthy dose of crushed pecans mixed with butter and brown sugar. Pecans are heart healthy which makes them eye healthy as well! Sweet and salty, I often eat this dish as my dessert.”

Spicy Green Chili Deviled Eggs

Sandra Young, OD, author of Visionary Kitchen: A Cookbook for Eye Health, is a master at bringing eye-healthy foods into menus. One

Dr. Young

of her favorites for Thanksgiving is this spicy green chili deviled eggs. “The eye nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin (L+Z) accumulate in the

lens and macula of the eye where they act to reduce oxidative stress and help absorb blue and UV light. Egg yolks are an

Eggs with deeply colored yolks have more lutein and zeaxanthin.

important source of L+Z. Yolks that are deeper yellow/orange in color have more L+Z. Make your favorite recipes using eggs with deeply colored yolks.”

Side note: Dr. Young is preparing for retirement and is offering her remaining stock of Visionary Kitchen at a deep discount to WO readers. Visit visionarykitchen.com.
Other favorites from Dr. Young: a glass of Thanksgiving cheer and roasted beets. Courtesy of Visionary Kitchen, photographs by Anne Marie Coutts, DTR.

Maple-Thyme Butternut Squash Mash 

Dr. Marshall

Jessica Marshall, OD, of Aberdeen Township, New Jersey, loves this maple-thyme butternut squash mash — and not only because it’s easy and delicious. “Squash is a good source of vitamins A, C and B, and it’s high in antioxidants. Pure maple syrup is high in antioxidants and nutrients like riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress potentially lowering risk of age-related macular degeneration.”

Sweet Potato Pie (and Chinese Hot Pot)

Dr. Shen Lee

Bridgitte Shen Lee, OD, FAAO, FBCLA, FEAOO, of Houston, Texas, says that one of her favorite Thanksgiving desserts is sweet potato pie.  “These orange tubers are excellent source of beta-carotene, which may slow progression of macular degeneration. In addition, our bodies converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, a key nutrient that helps prevent dry eyes and night blindness.” 

Leafy greens such as kale are high in phytonutrients. Photo credit: Getty Images

Thanksgiving is also a great time to celebrate heritage and what makes families unique. Dr. Shen Lee says, “In addition to the southern traditional turducken feast, we also celebrate with family gathered around a traditional Chinese hot pot meal. It is often prepared with a lot of dark green leafy vegetables. These vegetables offer varieties of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect cells in our eyes from oxidative damage.”

Dr. Neda Gioia’s Healthy Cooking and Eating Tips

Dr. Gioia

Neda Gioia, OD CNS, FOWNS, of Shrewsbury, New Jersey, offers these four healthy alternatives to some traditional favorites. Skip some of the carbs and sugars without skimping on taste.

1. Use chicken bone broth as your base for gravy or other foods that list water. Bone broth includes extra nutrients.

2. Add diluted saffron to turkey skin. Get great flavor without a salty brine.

3. Skip the simple carbs; no canned cranberry or cider! Instead consider pomegranate fresh and a flavored seltzer.

4.Use digestive enzymes with your meal. These can aid digestion because they are helpful in breaking down fats, carbs and proteins!

Rich Colors: Greens and Oranges

millicent knight
Dr. Knight

Millicent Knight, OD, FAAO, FAARM, senior vice president of EssilorLuxottica, says her family will be having “a medley of sautéed greens including kale, which are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin.”

Sweet potato. Getty Images

“We have sweet potatoes dusted with cinnamon, high in vitamin A and carotenoids that support the macula. Cinnamon is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits and blood glucose balance.”

Feature image: vegetable cutting board: Getty Images
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