Showing posts with label sources of vitamin A. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sources of vitamin A. Show all posts

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Carrot-Cumin Soup #EatRightforYourSight

This thick aromatic carrot soup, finished with creamy yogurt, will not only satisfy your hunger, but will also provide a substantial dose of vitamin A, minerals and antioxidants, all essential for healthy eyes.

When I was asked if I’d like to a receive and review a copy of Eat Right for Your Sight*, I jumped at the chance. Not just because it is a cookbook with tasty recipes from the likes of Jacques Pépin, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Ina Garten and Alice Waters, but because it would give me the chance to raise awareness about macular degeneration and to reminisce about my grandfather, a member of the Great Generation, a self-made man who worked hard, relaxed by gardening – which looked like a whole different kind of hard work to me – and who suffered from the disease the recipes in this book aim to prevent. He loved to grow and pick fresh vegetables as much as he loved to eat them so I am pretty sure Paw would have been a fan of this book. And if, by writing this, I can make even one person follow a link and learn something about preventing macular degeneration, or how to live well even following that diagnosis, then I will sleep well tonight.

My grandfather grew up on a farm, out “in the country” as we called it, in southern Louisiana. One day, many years ago, I was chatting with him on the phone and he began to speak about his first job, working for a furrier, after he left school. It was Paw’s responsibility to collect pelts from hunters and trappers that the furrier would use to make coats and hats. If I remember correctly, he earned $1 for every pelt, which was a substantial (if sporadic) payment in a time when a chuck roast could be bought for 15 cents a pound and the big can of Heinz beans was only 13 cents. He went on to discuss how he and my grandmother had started their major appliance business and how he built their shop himself, welding together large steel beams that would become the framework for the building. And how he had learned to weld when workers were needed to build supply ships at a new shipyard in New Orleans during World War II. He was rightfully proud of his contribution to the war effort and he gained a skill in the process. Everyone thought he was crazy since steel was an expensive building material but it meant that he could do most of the work himself, saving on labor costs and a steel frame building would last forever. This was key to my grandfather’s philosophy that a person should choose carefully when he or she buys something, making sure that it is worth the expense, and then should care for that something so that it might never have to be replaced. As owner-operator of the first Maytag appliance center in their town, he would have preferred to repair a customer’s old machine and keep it working rather than sell them a new one. Perhaps it was not the most lucrative business model but he lived a life of integrity and his customers appreciated that, always returning to buy the next appliance out of loyalty, knowing they’d be treated fairly. My grandfather’s handshake was better than a written contract and if he told you he’d do something, you could damn well bet he would.

I realized part way into the conversation that if I didn’t write all this down, I would never remember it so I began to take notes, as fast as I could. Later I transcribed the notes and saved them to my computer. Unfortunately, that computer became obsolete and I didn’t remember to print or save the file to the new one. So we are back to my faulty memory again, trying to recall what my grandfather shared with impressive accuracy, despite the half century between the living and the telling.

His memory for details was phenomenal and he was an avid reader, reading anything and everything to educate himself, making up for his early departure from formal education. The ever-growing stack of reading material next to his chair was a testament to all he'd like to accomplish, given the time. My whole childhood I remember both he and my grandmother reading two newspapers a day, cover to cover, The Times Picayune, published in New Orleans and The Daily Iberian, an afternoon paper from their hometown. As they both aged, he became a regular subscriber to Prevention magazine and each issue was covered in his scrawling almost illegible handwriting, with passages of particular interest underlined, as he tried to figure out how to live the healthiest life. My grandfather’s mailbox was regularly filled with packages of vitamins that he ordered in bulk from catalogs and swallowed faithfully, especially once he had been diagnosed with macular degeneration, that eye disease that steals one’s sight, from a central point of the retina, leaving only peripheral vision near the end.

For a man who loved to read, who was used to being independent and doing for himself, the diagnosis was nothing sort of devastating. A broken magnet on the old brown double-wide refrigerator held a grid that he was supposed to check to gauge the progression of the disease. (Check your own eyes on the grid here.) To prolong the inevitable, my mom bought him two large lighted magnifying lenses that could be c-clamped to both his kitchen table and his comfy chair, allowing him to continue reading, until he just couldn’t really much anymore. And the loss of his driver's license was a huge blow.

My grandfather with his passel of great grandchildren, on the occasion of his 91st birthday.

While there still isn’t a cure for macular degeneration, we know much more about its risk factors which include exposure to UV rays from the sun and welder’s flash(!), so the proper protective lenses are key. And smoking is a big no-no. We also know much more about how to prevent it through diet and supplementary vitamins. The eventual goal of the American Macular Degeneration Foundation is, of course, finding a cure. But meanwhile, get your eyes checked regularly and let's eat right for our sight as well.

Carrot-Cumin Soup - from Eat Right For Your Sight: Simple Tasty Recipes That Help Reduce the Risk of Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration*,  © American Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. *Amazon affiliate link

Ingredients for four 1 cup or 240ml servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound or 450g carrots
2 1/2 cups or 590ml vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup or 125g plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or as needed

For garnish:
2 tablespoons toasted cumin seeds (I used way less.)
I also added a little more yogurt and some green onions.

Peel your onion, garlic and carrots. Chop the onions, mince the garlic and, after cutting the ends off of the carrots, cut them into 1 inch or 2 cm pieces.

In a heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the chopped onion for two minutes, then add the garlic and sauté an additional minute.

Add the carrots, broth, cumin, coriander and a few good grinds of black pepper. (The recipe says to add the salt here as well but I suggest you wait till the end of cooking to see how much salt is needed after the soup cooks down. Vegetable broths come in varying degrees of saltiness.)

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.

Purée the soup with an immersion blender or, working in batches, purée in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Return the soup to the pot, if necessary, and stir in the yogurt and lemon juice. Add salt and and more black pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the toasted cumin seeds. (And a small dollop of yogurt and a few chopped green onions, if desired.)

Enjoy! If you’d like to learn more about how to prevent macular degeneration, please visit the American Macular Degeneration Foundation website.  If you'd like to buy the cookbook or read further reviews, check out or any of the major booksellers.

And since it was provided in the book, as it is for all of the recipes, I'll share the nutritional information for the soup:
Nutritional Profile for Carrot-Cumin Soup.
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 178
Protein: 4 g
Fiber: 4 g
Fat: 11 g
Saturated fat: 3 g
Sodium: 1,031 mg
Vitamin A: 19,312 IU
Vitamin C: 10 mg
Vitamin E: 3 IU
Beta-carotene: 9,420 μg
Lutein and zeaxanthin: 307 μg
Lycopene: 1 μg

I received a copy of Eat Right for Your Sight free of charge from the non-profit American Macular Degeneration Foundation. It seems ridiculous to have to say it, here goes: As with every post I write, all opinions contained herein are my own alone.