Feast for the Eyes


October is Eye Health Month. Here, a look at how your diet can optimize your eye health.


Geek chic is all the rage, but an appointment with your eye doctor goes farther than a prescription for trendy new frames. As Dr. Barbara Pelletier, an Iris optometrist in Welland, Ont., points out, “Certain eye conditions start with little or no symptoms. This is why an annual eye health examination is so important. Three very important conditions that can affect the 50-plus population’s quality of life are ocular surface disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.” AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the Western world. Dame Judi Dench says the condition has deteriorated her sight to the extent she relies on friends and family to learn her lines, as she can no longer read scripts.

Pelletier, with Dr. Laurie Capagna, writes in Eye foods: A Food Plan for Healthy Eyes that certain nutrients are important in preventing many common eye diseases, including conditions whose risk factors increase with age, such as AMD and cataracts, as well as ailments that can strike at any time, like dry eye syndrome or eyelid disorders blepharitis and meibomianitis (inflammation of the eyelid margin and the eyelid, respectively). Among the senutrients are lutein and zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitaminC, beta carotene, vitamin E, zinc and fibre. Eye foods rich in these nutrients include leafy green and orange vegetables, cold-water fish, eggs, fruits, whole grains, beans and lentils.

For a meal that’s as easy on the eyes as it is healthy, try these stuffed bell peppers from Janet and Greta Podleski’s The Looneyspoons Collection – a roundup from their three bestselling low-fat recipe cookbooks. Use orange bell peppers as they contain the highest amount of eye nutrients.

Recipe: Quinoa-stuffed Bell Peppers with Shiitake Mushrooms,Spinach, Green Peas, Feta and Mint

2 cups (500 ml) reduced-sodium
vegetable broth

1 cup (250 ml) uncooked quinoa

1⁄2 tsp (5 ml) each ground cumin, ground coriander and curry powder

6 bell peppers in a variety of colours

1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil

1 cup (250 ml) chopped onions

1 tsp (5 ml) minced garlic

3 cups (750 ml) chopped shiitake


3 cups (750 ml) coarsely chopped baby spinach

1⁄2 cup (125 ml) sweet green peas

1⁄2 cup (125 ml) crumbled light feta cheese (2 oz/60 g)

2 tbsp (25 ml) minced fresh
mint leaves

1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon zest

1⁄2 tsp (2 ml) freshly ground

black pepper

In a medium pot, combine broth, quinoa, cumin, coriander and curry. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, until ready to use.

Trim tops off bell peppers; mince and set aside. Remove seeds from peppers and discard stems. In deep 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and minced bell pepper tops; cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa with mushroom mixture, peas, feta, mint, lemon zest and pepper; mix well. Spoon filling into bell peppers.

Place peppers upright in a 13-by 9-inch (33 by 22 cm) baking pan. Cover loosely with foil. Bake in 375 F (190 C) oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until bell peppers are tender. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.