Weekly Wellness Spotlight

OWNS member Dr. Sandra Young has combined her love of cooking and her interest in wellness and nutrition for the benefit of a larger audience.  She has authored two cookbooks that specifically use ingredients that are eye healthy.  To learn more you can go to www.visionarykitchen.com.

We asked Dr. Young a few questions regarding her love of cooking and nutrition.

When did you first become interested in nutrition and how integrating it impacted your patient care? 

“The OWNS meeting in Boston, I believe it was was held Oct/Nov 2012. Dr. Johanna Seddon talked about nutrition, AREDS and retinal health. Her lecture was compelling. It was followed by Dr. Stuart Richer’s compelling lecture. It was during these lectures, I began wondering if there was a practical guide to bridge the worlds of academia and patient care. It seemed to me that a cookbook could do just that. It is thanks to Drs. Richer and Seddon for the inspiration to create Visionary Kitchen: A Cookbook for Eye Health.”

When did you start creating recipes?  Why?

“I have been cooking and creating recipes for over 50 years. My mother taught me to cook without the use of a recipe. In fact, my first recipe was homemade pizza. (Yes, my mother was Italian.) She had health problems so I would put an ingredient in a bowl and carry it to her bedroom leaving a trail of flour, cheese or whatever! Creating a recipe comes to me naturally but there’s a science behind making it attainable to the home kitchen. I enjoy combining specific ocular nutrition concepts to a recipe that friends and families will enjoy. Recipes should include ingredients that promote blood sugar regulation, is anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, minerals and healthy fatty acids.”

What is your favorite holiday recipe?

“My favorite holiday recipe is home made pumpkin pie that is actually made out of Hubbard squash. I get the ugly green Hubbard squash at my local farmer’s market and then roast it. The garishly orange flesh is then pureed. I use the puree instead of pumpkin. I spice the pie with cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and my “secret” ingredient…white pepper. While I have never included this type of recipe in my cookbooks for eye health, it is delicious and does have some nutritionally redeeming qualities including vitamin A, dietary fiber and bioactive phytonutrients.”

Recently, Dr. Young created a recipe for OWNS using annatto- the bright red seeds of the small achiote tree.  Annatto is rich in vitamin E and tocotrienols.  Here is the recipe!

Anchiote Almonds

Annatto paste and seeds are available for purchase at stores specializing in spices, health food stores and online.

Makes 3 cups


1 T annatto (achiote) seeds, ground

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 ½ tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

3 cups almonds, raw, unsalted

2 T olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 300º F.
  2. Annatto seeds are hard but can be ground in a coffee grinder. Combine ground annatto, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, sea salt and pepper.
  3. Add almonds to a mixing bowl. Add olive oil; stir to coat.
  4. Sprinkle achiote mixture over the almonds; stir until evenly coated.
  5. Add almonds to a baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes.
  6. Store sealed at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Nutritional facts per serving (1/4 cup): calories 231kcal; total fat 20.2g; saturated fat 1.7g; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 196mg; total carbohydrates 9g; dietary fiber 5g; sugars 2g; protein 8g; vitamin A 9%; calcium 10%; vitamin C 8%; iron 8%

Eye health benefits: vitamin E as tocotrienols and tocopherols, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6, lutein+zeaxanthin, curcumin, peperine, allicin, quercetin, zinc, copper, selenium