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 email@example.com.
This story will be updated as new ideas come in, so check back often. New recipes will be added to the top.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Nitrate-free Bacon
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
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
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
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.”
Maple-Thyme Butternut Squash Mash
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)
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.”
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
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, 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.”
“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.”