Age changes our bodies in a myriad of ways—our skin wrinkles, our spines curve and hunch, and our hair grays. Another common age-related change is the slow depreciation of our eyesight. This natural condition is called presbyopia referring to the “hardening of the lens inside your eye,” which generally begins after the age of 40.
Let’s take a step back, what is the lens in your eye?
To begin, there’s more than one. The clear lens, which “sits inside the eye behind your colored iris,” is an incredibly versatile agent that “changes shape to focus light onto the retina so you can see.” The most important aspect of the lens’s functionality is its flexibility, allowing you to “focus on objects both close-up and far away.” As we age, the clear lens actually loses this flexibility which means it is not able to easily change shape making it more difficult to focus on “close-up tasks.”
What can we do? Make sure you’re providing your body with eye-boosting nutrients! Most plant-based foods are chock full of nutrients that will help your eyes stay young as long as possible. Yet, not all are created equal when it comes to focusing on boosting your vision throughout your lifetime. The best eye-health plant-based foods are kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, strawberries, and green tea.
Let’s get cooking with recipes from the Food Monster App! Here are fifteen creative, delicious, and nutritious ways to use these wonderful plant-based ingredients for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
While most dark leafy greens have eye-boosting nutrients, kale is one of the super-providers! One cup of raw kale has 10301 IU of vitamin A — “IU” refers to “international units” which is the standard for measuring fat-soluble vitamins — which is close to the recommended daily intake. Why is vitamin A important for eye health? Vitamin A is related to “lutein and zeaxanthin … [which] … are believed to protect eye tissues from sunlight damage and reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.” This Kale, Sweet Potato and Tempeh Breakfast Hash by Plant Protein Recipes That You’ll Love asks for a whopping 3 cups of kale alongside eye-friendly sweet potato and nutrient-rich extra-virgin olive oil and nutritional yeast.
Beta carotene is a “red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits,” especially colorful fruits and vegetables, which also happens to be converted into vitamin A in the body. Beta carotene has been found to “slow [the] progress of macular degeneration,” and vitamin A is linked to the prevention of “dry eyes and night blindness,” as well as reducing “the risk of eye infections.” Start the day with a super simple, yet nutrient rich Savory Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl by Amy Height with beta-carotene rich sweet potato, healthy fat filled extra-virgin olive oil and pumpkin seeds, and iron, magnesium, and calcium-rich spinach!
Source: Carrot Peach Breakfast Loaf
If you’re a prepper like me, then this Carrot Peach Breakfast Loaf by Margaux Mouton may be the perfect eye-boosting, nutrient-rich breakfast that can last all week! Just like kale and sweet potato, carrots are rich in vitamin A. In fact, 100 grams of raw baby carrots roughly equal around 13,790 IU of vitamin A. Warming up your gut and brain with this vegan and gluten-free loaf in the morning is a great way to get a healthy dose of vitamin A, as well as fiber-rich flaxseed and oat flour, soothing ginger spice, and vitamin-rich peach.
Source: Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a popular staple in plant-based diets due to its nutrient-rich and fiber-filled content. With that said, this Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal by Kat Condon also packs an eye-care dose of vitamin C. How does vitamin C care for your eyes? This antioxidant-rich vitamin — also found in bell peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe, and many citrus fruits — has been shown to “help lower your risk of cataracts.” Plus, vitamin C is one of the leading agents in immune system health, meaning a lower risk of infections! In this recipe, you’ll get your morning gut-friendly fiber from oats, flaxseed, and almond milk, along with a dose of potassium (as well as a sweet treat) from two whole bananas, and finish it off with a cup of vitamin C rich strawberries!
Source: Antioxidant Green Tea Porridge
There’s been a lot of talk about antioxidants in this recipe list, yet no ingredient takes the crown for antioxidant content more than green tea. Specifically, green tea “contains healthful substances called catechins, which are responsible for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.” You can also find catechins in “red wine, chocolate, berries and apples,” and black tea. If green tea isn’t your jam, try incorporating it in recipes such as this Antioxidant Green Tea Porridge by Taryn Fitz-Gerald which offers a warming mixture of rolled oats, almond milk, and your choice of healthy toppings!
Source: Raw Kale Salad
Looking for a nutrient-rich mid-day meal that won’t bog you down? Try a dose of veggies instead of carbohydrates. A great veggie-filled idea is this Raw Kale Salad by Julia Winnicki which is not only rich in eye-boosting kale and carrots, but it also provides healthy fat-filled pumpkins seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and extra-virgin olive oil, which will give your body a long-winded energy resource for the remainder of your day.
Have an extra twenty minutes before bed or maybe before work in the morning? That’s all it takes to whip up this filling Apple Sweet Potato and Mushroom Hash by Daniela Modesto. Fiber-rich apples, flavor-rich shallots, and earthy thyme are all great companions to the meaty eye-health boosting sweet potato.
Salads have come a long way from the traditional bowl of greens. Now, salad recipes can refer to a hearty mix of grains, pseudo grains, green leafy veggies, legumes, and more! For a filling and enriching mid-day salad option, this Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrot Fries and Smoked Paprika by Julie Van den Kerchove fits the bill!
Source: Chia Pudding
It’s the middle of the day and you’re hankering for something sweet. This chocolate-based Chia Pudding with a decadent strawberry compote by Taryn Fitz-Gerald, offers a healthy alternative to quell that sugar craving! Based around traditional chia seed inspired pudding — rich in protein, fiber, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids — this recipe also promotes healthy eyes with the vitamin-C rich strawberry and lemon compote.
Source: Beginner Green Smoothie
Smoothies are a great way to fit high nutrition content into a busy day filled with travel. Make a large batch of this Beginner Green Smoothie by Jeanette Chen on Sunday night, freeze in individual cups, and simply grab and go in the morning! Along with natural sweeteners, such as green grapes and banana, this smoothie uses eye-enriching antioxidants found in spinach, apple, and green tea!
Source: Chickpea and Kale Asian Rice
Looking for something a little different for dinner tonight? This Chickpea and Kale Asian Rice by Ashley Smyczek is hearty with rice and chickpeas, filled with the warm flavors of sesame, crushed red pepper, and tamari, and made creamy with your choice of nut butter. Along with a flew of healthy fats, protein, and fiber, this recipe also ends the day with a dose of eye-health boosting kale!
Sometimes, you just don’t have the energy for a large creation at the dinner table. With that said, a simple recipe doesn’t mean you have to lose out on nutrition! Turn to this Broccoli-Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato with Cashew Cream Chive Sauce by What the Health’s Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn with Eunice Wong which has eight common plant-based pantry ingredients, five simple steps, and takes only 45 minutes! Along with one whole beta-carotene rich sweet potato and vitamin A-rich broccoli, this recipe provides vitamin C-rich lemon, healthy fat filled cashews and flavorful chives.
Source: Roasted Spiced Carrots
When company comes over, it’s always a challenge thinking of the perfect dish that complements the main entrée which also happens to be diverse-diet friendly. For me, I turn to this Roasted Spiced Carrots dish by Sami Berger. The sweetness of the carrots is perfectly balanced by the earthy flavors of a home-made tahini sauce and a mixture of warm spices including cumin, paprika, and fennel. Plus, your guests won’t even realize they’re getting a whopping one and a half pounds of vitamin A-rich carrots that are working away to keep their eyesight healthy!
Source: Strawberry Crumble Cake
Nobody said you can’t have healthy eyes and a sweet treat! Enriched with vitamin C filled strawberries, this Strawberry Crumble Cake by Laine Rudolfa is a gluten and dairy free vegan dessert that’s easy to make, but not as easy to from being disappearing! Plus, this crumble avoids processed sugar by using natural maple syrup, fresh strawberries, sweet coconut shreds, lime peel, rich coconut oil, and warming cinnamon.
Source: Maca Matcha Chocolate Bars
You’ve most likely heard of matcha — green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder solution — yet many are slow to jump on the matcha cooking persuasion. While this bright green powder may be intimidating, matcha is a wonderful and easy ingredient to incorporate, plus it’s incredibly good for the body with a helping of eyesight strengthening antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Make a simple green tea concoction or try a more challenging sweet treat such as these Maca Matcha Chocolate Bars by Holly Bertone, which are great for dessert or even a mid-day snack!
Getting tired of the same old recipes? We highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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