Prairie Fare: Refresh your eyes with winter nutrition | Columnists

“Look at all that snirt!” exclaimed my husband.

Our deep snowbanks were covered in dirt (“snirt”), thanks to strong winds.

“I’m so sick of winter,” I replied.

He glanced in my direction. I read his mind.

“That’s an understatement,” he thought.

As we rode that windy day, our world looked like a black and white movie. Luckily, a colorful car or house punctuated the dark color of the exterior.

Like everyone else, I’m waiting for the snow to melt and the snirt to return to the lawns and gardens.

Blades of green grass and tree leaves will be a welcome sight.

We can definitely brighten our days by bringing the color of nature into our kitchens any season of the year. The natural pigments contained in food have beneficial effects on health. In fact, we can help maintain our eyesight and prevent eye disease through our food choices.

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You might think of carrots and their association with eye health. Carrots and other dark orange and golden vegetables are a healthy option linked to reducing our risk of night blindness. Leafy greens and other colorful foods are more often linked to protecting eyesight.

You may know someone with age-related macular degeneration. This is the deterioration of the central region of the retina called the macula. The “macula” is a region near the optic nerve at the back of our eyes that allows us to see clearly and distinguish colors.

Macular degeneration is one of the main causes of blindness, and scientists have discovered that diet can play a role in preventing this eye disease.

The macula lutea (Latin for “yellow spot”) is made up of lutein and zeaxanthin. We literally feed our eyes with our food. These pigments are found in colorful fruits and vegetables.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids from the same group as the familiar beta-carotene found in carrots.

Kale, collard greens and spinach, orange peppers and corn are good sources of zeaxanthin.

Kale, green leafy vegetables, spinach, corn, peas, and yellow and orange vegetables are good sources of lutein. Egg yolks are another great source of lutein.

When enjoying an omelette or scrambled eggs, chop some bell peppers and add chopped spinach or kale to double your eye-healthy pigments.

If you’re a gardener, consider planting vegetables that promote good eye health.

Inspire your gardening with programs offered by NDSU Extension and other extension organizations across the country.

To see for information on signing up for our “Field to Fork” series, as well as links to many resources.

You don’t have to wait for a farmers market or your own garden. Enjoy colorful produce every day in the produce aisle, freezer section or canning aisle. All forms of vegetables and fruit count towards the recommendations: at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily for most adults and children.

You can see eye health supplements in the store, and some supplements have shown health benefits, especially for those who lack fruits and vegetables in their diet. Do your homework on supplements and always tell your health care provider which supplements you are taking.

However, aim for healthy foods before you drop bottles of supplements in your shopping cart.

Consider these tips from the National Eye Institute to support your vision.

See an eye care professional regularly. If you are 50 or older, have a dilation eye exam annually or as recommended by an eye care professional. Age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma can be detected by regular eye exams.

If you smoke, take steps to quit.

Practice regular physical activity.

Maintain normal blood pressure. Do you know your numbers?

Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors in direct sunlight.

Wear safety glasses when working around your home or playing sports.

This colorful recipe is a feast for our eyes and nourishment for our bodies.

Good for your eyes Roasted vegetables

2 cups sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow squash, sliced ​​and quartered

1 zucchini, sliced ​​and quartered

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl and add 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix to combine. Transfer the vegetable mixture (reserve bowl) to a baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Cook for about 30 minutes, then stir. Place the remaining vegetables in a bowl and add the remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix to combine. Add to sweet potatoes on a plate. Roast 10 to 15 minutes longer or until tender. The roasting time may need to be adjusted depending on the size of the vegetables. Serve immediately. Note: Feel free to experiment with different vegetables or different seasoning blends.

Makes 12 servings. Each serving contains 80 calories, 1 gram (g) of fat, 2 g of protein, 10 g of carbohydrates, 2 g of fiber and 30 milligrams of sodium.

Julie Garden-Robinson is an NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist and Professor.

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