Eat Right for Your Sight Ep2 – Lunch Recipes for Macular Degeneration

Episode 2: Lunch Recipes for Macular Degeneration

In episode 2 of Eat Right for Your Sight, host Jennifer Trainer Thompson is joined first by AMDF founder, Chip Goehring, who shares his own personal journey with getting diagnosed with macular degeneration, and the inspiration to start The American Macular Degeneration Foundation. Next, Matthew Levine, AMDF Director of Grants, Advocacy and Partnerships joins Jennifer to discuss his personal connection to macular degeneration, as well as examples of the types of projects and research AMDF undertakes.

In each segment, Jennifer joins her special guest in conversation and preparing lunch recipes for macular degeneration.

Special Guests in This Episode

Chip Goehring, President and Founder, American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF)

Matthew Levine, Director of Grants, Advocacy and Partnerships, AMDF

AMD Diet Recipes in This Episode

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 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 as well.

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

  • Bump dots
  • Kevlar glove for cutting
  • High contrast measuring cups and spoons

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 Thank you. Now, let’s eat right for our sight.

Welcome to “Eat Right for Your Sight.” I’m Jennifer Trainor Thompson, and it’s my great privilege today to have as a guest Chip Goring, who is a Visionary, a true Visionary, and also the founder of the American macular degeneration Foundation, which is dedicated to researching the disease and helping people with it. Also inspiring people. Chip, speaking of inspiration, your story is really inspiring. Can you tell me about your journey with macular degeneration?

I went for a routine eye exam when I was 39 years old, and I remember the ophthalmologist telling me that I had—I called it molecular degeneration for a couple of weeks—and I tried to find out information about the disease, and there was nothing in those days before the internet. Before the internet? Well, the internet was new, but I had a computer that would spell check, and it always would say “macular” was misspelled. I mean, it just wasn’t in the Lexicon in those days. Yeah, and we started this as a way to get patients and family members and caregivers information about the disease.

You were so young. Surprised, did I mean how did you respond to that?

I was shocked, and I think I was even more shocked because the doctor started to cry. So, I mean, once you realized what it was and it was something you’re going to have to live with and you had to choose to live with it, what did you start by doing?

Well, initially, I was afraid that people wouldn’t want to drive with me because I love to drive, and I could still see. I still had 20/20 Vision. They could just see the beginnings of the disease inside my eyes. I heard about the original ARMD study, and I called Johns Hopkins and wanted to find out what they were studying. I wanted to be in the study, but they wouldn’t let me be in the study because I was so young. But they told me, “Go to the drugstore and buy this, this, and this, and this, and that will be what we’re studying.” And they said, “Besides, this way you actually get the pills which we think will do you good, rather than a placebo.” And I started doing that, and now of course you can buy the pills in a single formula.

And what were you doing in those days? I mean, what was your profession?

I did real estate for the most part, and I wasn’t very happy about it. And I started thinking, “Well, maybe I should try to help myself and others learn about the disease and what we could do to reduce your risk or slow the progression of the disease.” So, what were the first steps you took with the foundation? What did you focus on?

We started with a newsletter called “In the Spotlight,” and people can get that by calling up 888 macular or going online and ordering it. After the newsletter, we began to do some videos of people, patients dealing with it and their methods because they certainly were much more affected than I was. We founded something called the Vision and Art Project. Then we worked on the cookbook.

How did you think about a cookbook?

Well, I knew that certain ingredients that you eat, certain amounts of them were supposedly good for your eyes, and I thought, “Well, let’s do a cookbook.” But one of the key aspects of that cookbook was to break down the lutein, the zeaxanthin, the zinc, whatever, how much per serving that you would get, and then you would have some inkling of what to eat every day to get the recommended amounts of these things. And I’m glad to be part of it.

And should we do a little cooking?

Sure, okay. So, let’s start with a carrot cumin soup. Carrots are very good for your eyes, one of the highest sources of vitamin A, which is critical to eye health. And so, we’re going to start by sautéing some onions and garlic. If you want to put two tablespoons of olive oil in there, and let’s use the tablespoon measure, which is… Can you see what it says there? Large enough? And I’m going to use the bumps that we talked about yesterday for visual acuity. That, I’m going to reach the top two and then the one on the far upper right. All right, so I love fresh garlic, and I love using a garlic press and a bulb of garlic. But as an option, if that is challenging to you, you can always use chunky garlic in paste. There are many organic varieties. So, if you want to just squeeze in the equivalent of about a teaspoon.

We like garlic. We were talking off-set earlier how there was a lot of propaganda during World War II that gave carrots to RAF pilots to increase their visual acuity and night vision. But they are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. And I must say, having worked on “Eat Right for Your Sight” has changed my diet. I think about having a salad every day, and I think about having different colors. The colors of the rainbow are critical to eye health. You want the dark, the light, the medium. You want different colors, even with peppers. And we’re going to cook a quesadilla later, which has three different colors of peppers.

So, I think you can put the onions in now. How do you create and sustain a good support network, which I think is critical in any kind of illness?

I have, as I said earlier, great friends, and we just do things that are normal. And I still drive. Friends come and stay, and you work on projects together. Work on projects. Always a project or three or four, yeah. So, you know, I remember when I was in my early 30s, I had a tragedy occur, and all my friends were getting married and having babies, and, you know, their early 30s, they were had great jobs. And I went to the doctor, and I said very selfishly, “Why me? You know, everybody is having fun at my age, and why am I having this darkness that’s happened to me?” And he said, “Everybody has that. You just can’t see it.”

Yeah, and I think that’s true of everyone. Everyone, yes. I think if you’re affected by things like macular degeneration, that can maybe help when you realize that you may not see what others are facing, but everybody’s facing something. Well, I don’t tend to think about it even now every day. I can’t let myself be weighted down by the fear of what may happen. And as long as it can be like it is, I can function totally normally. Can I get you to stir these? Sure. If I keep talking too much, I’ll burn them.

I burn them all. I don’t want to do that. We’re going to add and turn this down just a little bit. Okay, we’re going to add two and a half cups of carrots, so I’m now going to get you to cut the carrots, and let’s use this glove. What is this made out of? Why is this special? It’s made out of Kevlar, and it helps to not cut yourself. The one-inch slices, we want two and a half cups total. So, we’ve got a few in the dish there, but you want to add a few more. And this is just really to make them a little bit smaller so that they will cook a little bit faster. Yeah, maybe one more carrot. So, two carrots give you four times the recommended daily amount that you need. So, if you just eat two carrots every day as a snack, like you eat an apple a day for the doctor, two carrots a day for your eyes, you’re off to a really good start. Alright, would you add that to the pot, please? This freezes really well, so you can make a big batch and have some later.

Now we’re going to add two and a half cups of vegetable broth. I really recommend organic vegetable broth. I think the quality of the broth makes a big difference. Just about right. Thank you. You need a half a teaspoon of cumin and a quarter teaspoon of coriander. Coriander and cumin are key ingredients in curries. They add a lot of flavor to carrot dishes. One of my first dates I ever had, I made this dish. I think it was like 21 garlic chicken, something like that. So, I did 21 bulbs of garlic, 21 cloves. And you know what? I didn’t go on a second date with the guy. [Laughter] Well, it’s probably good he didn’t like garlic. Yeah. Did either of your parents cook growing up? My mother did. My father ate. Is that enough? Yes, that’s perfect. A little bit of pepper. Do you like a lot of pepper? I do. I do too. I think if you like a lot of garlic, you often want a lot of pepper.

Alright, so we are going to bring this to a boil, and then we’re going to simmer it for 15 minutes to basically cook the carrots. Then we’ll puree it. So, while we’re waiting, I had another question. It’s a tough question. How do you deal emotionally and intellectually with a disease that’s with you? I think you have to accept where you are and take it day by day. And hopefully, it doesn’t change dramatically. But I know for many people, it does. And I know I might complain about my left eye or how hard it is for me to read, but I think how lucky I am compared to many other people with macular degeneration. And can people learn about the research that you are funding and working on and supporting by going on to the website? Yes, for sure. So, we’re going to move it down to a simmer. Don’t burn yourself. Smells good. It smells very good. And we’ll let that simmer for about 15 minutes and then come back.

Okay, so in addition to your research, I understand that you do advocacy and educational programs. Can you tell me a little bit about that? We usually try to go down to Washington two or three times a year, meet with senators’ offices, House of Representatives, and advocate for more funding for the National Eye Institute. It’s not specifically about funding for AMDF, and we educate, hopefully, the people that do not understand what macular is. There are some in the government who do not, and there are others who absolutely, because of their age, know many people with it, and they’re very receptive.

Alright, so shall we toast the cumin seeds? This is just going to be the garnish on top. Toasting seeds releases the oil. People find it sort of a scary process, but it’s so easy to do, and it adds enormous flavor. So, let’s pick the front burner on the right. So, I’m going to do this slowly without looking. We’re going to heat up a dry pan. Let’s put in a few tablespoons. I’d say about half of that. And you know when it’s done is when you smell it. Okay, it’s interesting how important different oils are to your eye health. They’re good for flavor too. They are. What makes you want to eat it, and you like good food. I do. You know, that’s one thing that’s really important in dealing with any kind of disease is you don’t want to sacrifice flavor. You don’t want to sacrifice your lifestyle. You don’t want to sacrifice the joy of living. That’s very true. Alright, I think you can put those in now.

So, we have simmered the soup for about 15 minutes. We’ve let it cool a little bit, and now, an immersive experience, we’re going to puree the soup. And we can either do an immersion blender or we can do an actual blender. So, let’s do an immersion blender. We just want to puree it so it’s smooth and all the flavors are blended. So, let’s add a few more nutrients into this soup. Do you want to cut the lemon for me? Just have it lemon is an excellent source of vitamin C and good for eye health. And I see you have on your safety glove, which is excellent. I do. And then, yeah, if you want to use that reamer. And I’m a big believer in as few pieces of equipment as possible. Just do it right over the pot. And if we end up with a lot of lemon, I don’t mind. Do you mind? No, I like lemon. It’s very garlicky too. So, lemony, garlicky, peppery. Yum. Alright, that’s perfect. And then, let’s add some plain Greek yogurt. You can use that.

Yeah, that’s about a half a cup, excellent for probiotics. All right, and then let’s just swirl it in a little bit. Our toasted seeds will go right on top. Yeah, so I actually like it when you can still see some of the swirls of the yogurt. I think it adds a pretty texture and pattern. So great, thank you. We will ladle it up. Are you hungry? Sure, good. We’ll add a few toasted cumin seeds to the top. Lunch is served, sir. Thank you, thank you. I can taste the cumin, the lemon, the garlic. You can add roasted red peppers.

To this, you could add more root vegetables. You could actually even add beets to it, shave beets. You could do a lot with this, but the base of carrot is so good for eye health, and then folding in the yogurt and lemon at the end just gives it that extra boost. It does, and we just made the carrot cumin soup, and now it’s my pleasure to have in our kitchen Matthew Levine, who also works for the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. Hi, Jennifer. Welcome. Tell me about your role at the foundation.

I manage our grant-making program, Murray. Support research and also our advocacy initiative, where we try to bring the voice of the macular degeneration community to DC. And also, I kind of help establish partnerships with other like-minded organizations to get a greater bang for the buck, more effective investments of our resources. And you, like many people I’ve met on this macular degeneration journey, have a very personal relationship to the disease as well. Can you tell me about your family?

My father was an artist. He had macular degeneration. It kind of brought his career to an end. My father was David Levine, widely known as one of the great caricaturists of the last century. Very interesting. And what age was he diagnosed?

I would say the earliest manifestations of macular degeneration were there in his mid-70s, but over time, he was less able to do the fine line drawing that he was known for. That really became the issue towards the end of his career. He could not do what he was known for. It really compels you to do the work that you do, your passion for what you do.

I’m a type 1 diabetic since I was young, and so most of my life, I’ve known that I could possibly lose my sight to another retinal degenerative disease. So, I have that personal connection. I saw what my father went through. Then I worked for a period of time, making grants to other institutions, and saw the importance that research breakthroughs can bring to people.

And what are some of the important research that you’re excited about these days?

Well, there are a number of different fronts where it’s really exciting now. Everyone probably knows about the artificial retina. That is something that is always being refined. But there are other means of vision restoration that are out there. In fact, AMDF is supporting a project where it’s possible that through a very simple laser approach, people can regain maybe three lines of their vision. That’s one thing. Gene therapies are also emerging, where there are a number of different forms of gene therapy. But we are supporting research into a therapy that would modify the whole cascade of genetic fallout from being born with the genes you’re born with. That’s another area. Then there’s research going on all the time into the basic foundational elements of the disease. We’ve got some resources directed at that. And then there’s quality of life research that enables people to live with the disease better, and we have some significant investments in that area as well.

One thing that really impresses me about the American Macular Degeneration Foundation is the creative approaches that you take to building awareness, such as the cookbook “Eat Right for Your Sight.” What are some other projects that you’re working on that are exciting?

Well, we’re also developing a platform online, an educational platform that’s highly interactive, that will educate people, allow them to answer questions of people with expertise and get answers. Another one of our really effective programs is this pin that I’m wearing. I love that you’re wearing this pin. It’s an awareness-raising device. It’s not only a beautiful-looking pin, but it prompts the question, “What’s that pin you’re wearing?” And after you get that opportunity, if someone asks you the question, the response is, “Oh, well, this is from the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. It represents different aspects of the disease. They’re all embedded symbolically in it.” The most important thing is that it starts the conversation. It breaks the ice. It may give you the opportunity to tell someone that you have the disease. They may not perceive it visually. And it’s highly effective because pretty much anyone sees you wearing this, they’ll say, “What’s that button?”

So, how might one get one of these buttons?

You can go to and order one. You know, communications from the foundation, you’ll get one. I could see earrings too. Have you thought of it? [Music]

So, there are a number of well-known chefs that have contributed to this cookbook, and one of them is Andrew Weil. And this is a Tuscan kale salad. And as we’ve discussed earlier, kale is perhaps the most super of the superfoods. I have never been able to get my kids to eat kale. Kale chips are like a stealth missile. And it didn’t work, Mom. But kale salad, they love. And what’s great about it is that it gets better with age. So, you can make it in the evening. You can have it the next day for lunch. Let’s make some. Absolutely. I’ve got to try keeping it overnight. Yeah, yeah. So, I chopped some of this last night, which I will often do if I’m in a hurry. If I’m working and I know that I want to put dinner on the table quickly.

So we’ve got about four cups there, and then we need another two cups. If you can help me, we’re going to stem the kale, just remove the stem. You know, using this kale reminds me of the significance of kale and its nutritional value. It’s based largely on research conducted by one of the researchers whom we support. And this knowledge has become the basis for most of the recommended lifestyle changes that a person can make in early diagnosis. Tell me about this researcher.

Well, her name is Dr. Joanna Sutton, and she investigates the interplay between the genes that you’re born with and the lifestyle that you conduct. And it turns out that one influences the other, and vice versa. So, eating the correct foods, such as kale, supplies you with nutrients that help either slow the progress or reduce your risk of developing the disease. And eating something like kale, which has antioxidants in it, in the presence of a healthy fat like olive oil (I see you’ve got it out here), helps the body to absorb it. Dr. Seddon co-authored “Eat Right for Your Sight,” and I must say I was really struck by her dedication to pinpointing the foods. It’s like any medicine, right? You have to target what particular nutrient is good for what particular part of your body, and kale was the star of the show for her.

So, we are going to make a very simple dressing. If you want to cut the lemon, when you chop the kale, it releases sulforaphane, which is really important protection for your body. It’s also very rich in antioxidants and nutrients, and it has the highest amount of lutein. Can you tell people a little bit about lutein?

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that are found in tremendous concentration in the macula. They are protective against the damaging blue rays of the sun, the really intense rays that are not visible necessarily. That’s why it’s also recommended to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. What exactly is a carotenoid?

A carotenoid is an antioxidant that helps absorb free radicals. Free radicals are oxygen molecules that are emitted by the body’s metabolism. So, when you’re burning fuel, glucose, your body is also putting off as a byproduct free radical oxygen, which is damaging to the cell tissue.

Interesting. How much of this are we going to use? The entire lemon? Okay. And I’ve chopped some garlic, about two teaspoons, as well. And of course, the vitamin C in lemons is another nutrient that your body doesn’t manufacture. Two tablespoons of olive oil. A little bit of salt and pepper, please. Tell me when.

That’s funny. And then, just for a little variety, let’s put in a few red pepper flakes. Chili peppers are very good for you. Be a little sparing here. Okay, and why are chili peppers good for you?

They’re very rich in vitamin C, so that adds to the C already in here.

It does. All right, so we will pour this over the kale, and if you’d like to toss it for me, there we go. I have to say, these are exquisite tongs.

They are. We’ve made breadcrumbs, and it’s a great use of stale bread, especially French bread. You can just cut it, and then I just sauté it with a little garlic on both sides. It crisps up. You can stick it in the freezer, or you could substitute walnuts.

Why would it be good to substitute walnuts?

Walnuts are an incredibly good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to be highly beneficial to the eye. Almonds and other kinds of nuts are rich in that, but not quite as rich. I would say hazelnuts might be a close second, but walnuts are really the leader. Not bread crumbs, but walnuts.

Laughs. I have to say that salads are really one of my favorite meals. I try to have a green salad every single day in some form or another for eye health. Makes total sense. Best way to get those antioxidants that you really need.

So, we made the kale salad, and I think it’d be nice to have a quesadilla with it. I know that many families have the challenge of getting all the nutrients into the dishes that their families need. And bell peppers, in particular, are really amazing vegetables. Can you talk a little bit about their value?

They’re high in vitamin C, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids. They’re really important for eye health, skin, heart, and whole-body health too. This dish that we’ve made here has three different kinds of peppers: yellow, red, and green. You could also substitute orange. You could add some diced zucchini. You could make a quesadilla with black beans and cilantro and corn. Basically, it’s a vehicle for creating a very tasty treat that you can have with a salad, on its own as a snack, or even for a very light dinner. Basically, it’s a tortilla in a dry skillet, and to which we add the cooked peppers. We cook a little bit with olive oil, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes and a little bit of garlic. The chopped peppers, we sprinkle it with about a quarter cup of cheddar cheese, put another tortilla on top, and we cook them on each side till they’re golden brown, which is about two minutes per side. And then we can just quarter them for lunch or dinner that kids and adults will like.

I’m ready to eat! Great! Thank you for joining me today. I’m Jennifer Trainor Thompson. We really are enjoying this series where we’re trying to eat right for our sight. We’ll see you next time. Thank you.