Eat like Popeye if you wish to see better

Last Saturday, we had invited an old friend of ours, Marie for lunch. We started off with some delicious baked kale chips (add paprika if you want them spicier) and a low-fat yogurt dip. As the weather is perfect for grilling, we made some salmon (quick and easy!) and added our fresh chopped dill and slices of lemon (instead of lemon juice so you get a better tangy flavor) together with a hearty winter green salad (chopped fresh baby spinach, tatsoi, arugula, minced leeks). To add color, we roasted our sliced beets with balsamic vinaigrette for color.

Not only did Marie eat up and ask for a second helping of the salad and kept nibbling on the kale chips, but she said, “You know. This is just what I need for my eyes. I’ve just been diagnosed with macular degeneration and they told me I should eat more winter greens.”

Macular degeneration – what’s that you might be asking right now? Basically, it’s an age related eye condition which affects adults, 50 years of age or more. It results in a loss of vision in the central part of your retina – the macula and unfortunately, is a major cause of blindness and visual impairment for seniors. As Marie mentioned, ‘I have a hard time reading or sometimes recognizing faces in my right eye, although mine is in the early stages so my peripheral vision allows me to be active.”

“So, what did the physician tell you about your eating habits? Don’t you have to eat more carrots for vision?

Marie responded, “Not really. He said I should eat more like Popeye for this condition and emphasize winter greens. These contain some powerful antioxidants that already accumulate in the retina. They’re called lutein and zeaxanthin. Here, let me show you my list as I keep it in my handbag so I can plan my weekly menus.”

Wow! To think we can now share with you another great reason to eat more winter greens during this season. Here’s what Marie’s list included: Good sources of lutein such as kale, turnip greens, collards, spinach. Just an example: 1 cup of cooked kale had over 22 mg and the supplement she was taking had 10 mg. Zeaxanthin, more difficult to pronounce but not eat is also found in winter greens, corn, broccoli, tangerines and carrots.

So, the next day, to make sure we were taking care of our eyes, we made winter green lasagna: of course, using ready-made lasagna noodles (place in layers on a baking sheet and fill with layers of tomato sauce (homemade tastes better and you can add fresh dill!), layers of ricotta, two eggs, lemon zest and nutmeg and layers of our greens (chop a combination of Swiss chard, kale, spinach or choose your favorite (previously cook in olive oil and minced garlic). Add spices as you see fit. Bake for about thirty minutes.