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Eat Right for Your Sight Ep1: Breakfast – Low Vision Cooking

Episode 1: Breakfast – Low Vision Cooking

In Episode 1 of Eat Right for Your Sight, Jennifer Trainer Thompson is joined by occupational therapist, Beth Daisy, to create easy breakfast recipes for macular degeneration and to also demonstrate how low vision cooking aids can empower kitchen independence.

Beth Daisy, MS, OTRL, CAPS, is a low vision occupational therapist from Future In Sight. She is a wealth of knowledge on the emotional and practical aspects of cooking with low vision. She demonstrates multiple tools and tricks for safety and accessibility accommodations in the kitchen, and highlights low vision cooking aids. She emphasizes the importance of maintaining cooking skills to preserve a sense of self. 

Host Jennifer Trainer Thompson leads the AMD nutrition discussion through the preparation of a Banana Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie, a Spinach Omelet and Overnight Groats.

Special Guest

Beth Daisy, MS, OTRL, CAPS, Supervisor of Occupational Therapy at Future In Sight, New Hampshire. Future In Sight is a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of those who are blind, visually impaired, and their families. Clients are offered a holistic continuum of care that includes counseling, group therapy, occupational therapy, low vision therapy, vision rehabilitation therapy, orientation and mobility training, education services, and technology training.

Recipes for macular degeneration in this episode

Banana Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie

In addition to the high levels of eye-healthy antioxidants in this smoothie, which protect the macula and reduce damage to cells caused by inflammation, bananas provide fiber, which is a prebiotic and important for establishing a healthy gut microbiome.

Spinach Omelet

Using omega-3-fatty-acid-enriched eggs enhances this dish’s eye healthy, anti-inflammatory nutrition while lowering the cholesterol content.  Heating the spinach helps the body to retain more eye-healthy antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. 

Overnight Groats 

Groats, or uncut oats, are a powerful prebiotic that supports a healthy microbiome, while lowering LDL cholesterol.

For even more recipes, you can purchase the full cookbook, Eat Right for Your Sight by Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM, a Project of the American Macular Degeneration Foundation.

Low Vision Cooking Aids in this episode

**Please note, if you choose to shop Amazon.com for these items, you can easily support AMDF and our work by setting up Amazon Smile, choosing AMDF as your recipient organization, and then shopping as usual. Amazon will donate a portion of those sales to AMDF automatically.

If you prefer, you can also find most of these products on maxiaids.com as well.

We did not include links in the list below because there are multiple options available to choose from.

  • High contrast measuring cups and spoons
  • Finger guard for cutting
  • Kevlar glove
  • High contrast cutting board
  • Food chopper
  • Bump dots
  • Multi-outlet extension adapter
  • Liquid level vibrating device
  • Talking timer
  • Smart device such as Alexa from Amazon


futureinsight.org – provider of services to the blind or visually impaired in education and rehabilitation, and social services to infants and toddlers, children (3-21,) adults, and seniors

maxiaids.com – innovative products designed to assist blind, low vision or visually impaired, deaf, hard-of-hearing, seniors, children with special needs, veterans, and those with mobility issues

Low Vision Resources by State – https://www.enhancedvision.com/low-vision-resources.html

Full Transcript

It was a German philosopher in 1848 who first said, ‘You are what you eat,’ but that’s been an idea that people have held for centuries. In the 1600s, Spanish explorers brought chili peppers and carrots on board because they believed that they were important for night vision. Today, we know it’s the beta-carotene in those brightly colored vegetables that is indeed necessary for night vision, and scientists have identified many more foods that directly impact the health of our eyes.

Join us as we use these foods in delicious, easy-to-prepare dishes, complete with recipes, nutritional breakdowns, and other resources. Either click the links below this video or go to macular.org/cookingshow. Thank you. Now, let’s eat right for our sight.

Welcome to ‘Eat Right for Your Sight,’ a new series on eye health. I’m Jennifer Trainor Thompson, and it’s my pleasure to welcome Beth Daisy, an occupational therapist at Future Insight. Thank you so much, Jennifer. I’m so excited to be cooking food with you that promotes eye health, and also so excited that the American Macular Degeneration Foundation partnered with Future Insight so that we could talk to people about how to make cooking and their kitchens more accessible.

First, we’re going to make a smoothie. I don’t know about you, but I drink smoothies every day, and they are a great way to sneak dark leafy vegetables. The darker the vegetables, the more antioxidants and carotenoids that you have, that you need. So, my first question is, if I have vision loss, how can I measure?

There are actually some better options for people with a vision impairment. So, I’ve brought these measuring cups with me, and they also make measuring spoons, and there’s a lot of contrast here, and people with even severe vision impairments can often read these numbers much more easily than they would be able to read a traditional measuring cup.

Great, you said a cup. A cup, please. And one thing to remember, too, is that you do not have to be precise. We aren’t making any soufflés here. The most important thing is for people to feel comfortable in what they’re making, and if they end up with a cup and a half of blueberries, it’s fine. A lot of my clients worry about not being able to measure things precisely, so I’ll let them know that you said it’s okay.

Now, we also want two cups of pomegranate juice, but you could use coconut water, you could use a lot of different things. So, let’s do two cups, and that will give us our liquid. The next ingredient is kale. Kale is one of those remarkable vegetables that is anti-inflammatory, which is very important to eye health. Can you explain why?

So, when we have inflammation in our cells, it can damage those cells. We want to choose foods that are going to reduce that inflammation and protect our retinas. So, we want to remove the stem, so if you want to just sort of tear it off of one. And, I’m guessing Jennifer, this is probably a good way to get fiber in our morning smoothie.

Yes, and with the banana, which gives us fiber, gives us potassium, and it also thickens the smoothie a little bit. Okay, now I have these glasses with me which simulate the conditions by which I would cook if I had macular degeneration and the central part of my vision was compromised. And the next ingredient is lime. We want a tablespoon of lime, and I must say it sort of scares me, the thought of cutting with a knife, but you have a solution to that.

So the first thing that we have is a finger guard. So, I have slipped it onto my finger, just as simple as that, and I can now hold the lime or whatever it is that I’m slicing, and now I’m not so worried about slicing my finger. Another product that we have is a cut-resistant glove. Now, this glove is actually woven with Kevlar fibers, and it’s not stab-proof, but it is cut-resistant. So, this gives a lot of people a little more confidence that should they have a slip-up in the kitchen, it’s not going to result in bloodshed.

Okay, so we want a tablespoon. As I said, you don’t have to be precise necessarily, so we want about a tablespoon. So, we just use a simple reamer. If we squeeze and we push and we smell the wonderful lime juice, and then we are ready to blend.

Jennifer, one of the things I want to point out about this blender is we have really small print, and it’s gray print on a black background, so there’s not a lot of contrast. Would you say that you’re able to read that information easily?

Not at all.

Well, you said you’d like to make smoothies every day for breakfast. So, what I’ve done is I’ve gone ahead and marked the Smoothie setting with a bump dot. Can you find that?

Oh yes, that’s great. So, that takes vision completely out of the equation. You find the bump dot, and then you know you’ve got the right setting.

When it comes time to plug in an appliance like this, people can have a really difficult time. So, one of the ways that we can make that easier is by bringing the outlet closer to us. This is a really simple and inexpensive fix. This is just an extension cord or a multi-outlet. But do you notice anything different about it?

Oh, there are the bumps again, right? So, what I’ve done is I’ve marked the large side of the plug, and you can see that on my blender, I’ve also put a bump dot to indicate the polarized or the large side of the plug. And this way, someone can use their sense of touch to match up the two bump dots and be able to plug something in a lot more easily.

Do you want to go ahead and give that a shot?

Yes, makes for a smooth smoothie. Yes, it does. It is. Yeah, that’s much easier. Great! All right, are we ready?

I think so. Blast off! I think I will take these off. Great! So, as you go and pour that, consider how difficult this task might be for somebody with a vision impairment. You did a great job pouring that first glass. Sometimes, people have a really hard time and they wind up spilling. Another thing that we can do is use this little gadget, and it lets us know when we’ve got a full glass, so that we don’t overfill it. Did you hear that?

I did. That let us know that we were at the top. Now, this smoothie has a lot of contrast, but think about if you were pouring water into a glass. This guy could really come in handy.

That’s great! Cheers!


So tell me about Future Insight. What do you do?

Future Insight is a service provider in the state of New Hampshire. As an occupational therapist, I work with primarily older adults, and a lot of them, as you might imagine, do have macular degeneration.

What’s your path to macular degeneration? I heard somewhere that you used to fly helicopters.

That’s right, Jennifer. I spent 21 years in the Marine Corps flying helicopters and then flying medical helicopters. And as a pilot, you’re acutely aware of how important your eyesight is, and you’re always concerned about protecting your vision. However, I also have a family history of macular degeneration. Both my grandmother and my mother have macular degeneration. And so, combining my background has really led me to promote independence and allow people with vision loss to be successful.

And now we’re going to make a spinach omelet. An omelet is a great vehicle to get vegetables, especially spinach or kale or red peppers, or whatever you want. But today, we’ve got spinach and we’ve got mushrooms.

So, you brought a very handy Chopper. I see we’ve chopped the onions, but we haven’t done the mushrooms. We want about a tablespoon of mushrooms. Can you show me how you use this device?

I’m going to have you put the mushroom right on there, okay? And then we’re just going to close the lid. And we have sliced mushrooms. Oh, that’s great! And it keeps everything nice and neat and tidy.

Well, these also dice, they do. There are other blades that you can swap out, and some will dice, and some will chop in larger segments. And what’s great is that they’re color-coded and also they have a very tactile feel. So, individuals with very little usable vision can still use this to safely dice or chop their vegetables. Oh, that’s wonderful!

All right, well now we are going to heat the olive oil first. And so, I’m going to test out your bump theory. Great, let’s do it.

Okay, so we’re going to use the left lower burner. So, I’m going to go up two. I’m going to go up another two. And then the next one. And I want medium-high. So, if high is at seven o’clock and low is at five o’clock, I want to maybe go around to there. Is that good? That looks perfect. Nicely done!

Good. All right, how about about a teaspoon of olive oil?

Okay. Olive oil is one of the good oils that is good for eye health. You want to avoid the oils that are high in saturated fats. Onions, please.

All right. And the mushrooms. Great.

All right, so we are going to cook this for about eight to ten minutes. And you have a timer. We have some high and low-tech options. So, let’s go high-tech first. Alexa, set a timer for eight minutes. Eight minutes, starting now.

But for those individuals that don’t have a smart home device, there are some really great talking timers out there, and they’re really inexpensive. Minute to two minutes. So, we know that we’ve set it to the correct time, and then we push start. Just like that.

I learned that if you cook spinach just a little bit, it releases more of the carotenoids, which has very valuable lutein in it. So, we’re going to chop the spinach. And if you don’t mind, I’d love for you to chop about a cup’s worth.

Sure, that’s smelling good, Jennifer. Toast milk, but do you want to crack a few eggs?

Sure, I can do that, and we want two, please.

All right. I’m going to put the spinach in, and now the spinach we’re only going to cook for about a minute. Do you want to add? You can either add scallions or chives, about a teaspoon, and you want to add a little bit of parsley, maybe another teaspoon of parsley. Sure, fresh parsley. This looks wonderful. You could substitute thyme or oregano or really any herbs you have in the garden. Rosemary would be delicious.

(11:45) [Music] Alexa, stop. That is handy. A couple salt and pepper, yeah, perfect. Pepper, not too much salt. Then we’re going to add a little bit more olive oil and a little bit of butter, and we’ll swirl that around, make sure it’s hot. Here we go. Okay, so you can actually just flatten it and leave it like this, or you can coax it a little bit because you obviously just want to make sure that all of the egg cooks a little bit. This will be sort of a French style, a little bit looser. Okay, why don’t we add a few tablespoons of mozzarella?

Okay, and all of these recipes are on the website for the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, which is macular.org. We’ll add this, and you basically want to add it on one side because then you are going to try to flip it. This is always the hard part. Yes, there we go. We can turn off the stove, and let’s eat. Cheers. Thank you.

You know, we’ve talked about speeding up the cooking process, but what about something that requires no cooking? Groats are perfect for that. They’re whole kernel oats. They were cultivated about 3,000 years ago when they finally figured out that they weren’t weeds, and they are very nutritious and good for eye health. The recipe that we’ve done here is basically the amount of groats, you double the amount of milk, you just mix them together in a jar or a bowl, and you set it in the refrigerator overnight. And you can add to it spices. You could add nutmeg, you could add cinnamon, whatever you really want to add.

And then I see that you’ve also put out some other things you can add once it’s done, right?

So, you talked about all of those different things that really reduce inflammation, but also, we’ve got these gorgeous fruits here that just are going to make this taste so yummy, high in antioxidants, and also, we’ve got our good healthy fats. So, all of these toppings are really going to contribute to a really healthy snack or start to the day.

Being in the kitchen is really about being confident, and we’ve talked about how you don’t have to have an exact recipe. You can have different modifications on the stove. What, why is that so important?

At the end of the day, it’s more than just about feeding our bellies. And even though, yes, it’s so important to eat foods for eye health, being able to cook your own food is so important for people’s mental health. It really promotes their cognition and their sense of self. And, you know, giving people the tools and the techniques to be able to continue cooking independently allows them to not just live with macular degeneration, but to also thrive. So, thank you for joining us with Eat Right for Your Site, where we focus today on safety and accessibility. And, and really hope it was a real pleasure, Beth. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

[Music] Thank you. [Music] [Laughter] [Music] Thank you. [Music]