Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in people who are 55 and older. Symptoms of cataracts may include cloudy or blurry vision, double vision, faded colors or halos around lights. One way to prevent cataracts and boost eye health is by eating foods that are high in antioxidants such as jalapenos.
Jalapenos are a great source of vitamins A and C, lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants protect cells from free radical damage which can lead to disease.
Just one jalapeno pepper contains 27 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin C and 3 percent of recommended vitamin A. Lutein and zeaxanthin are phytonutrients found in many green vegetables, and they are deposited in high amounts in the retina of the eye. All of these nutrients can help reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (another cause of vision loss in older adults).
So put a little “kick” in your diet with some jalapeno for optimal eye health. Try this Jalapeno Mac and Cheese recipe – a nice variation on the common mac and cheese recipe. Since it’s pretty spicy, we call it the “adult” mac and cheese!
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- About 7 cups water
- 2 cups whole grain elbow macaroni noodles, dry
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 2 strips turkey bacon, uncooked/chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon shallot, roughly chopped
- 7 tablespoons jalapeno peppers, diced (about 2 peppers) + ¼ teaspoon seeds, chopped
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup whole grain wheat flour
- 2 cups milk (regular or almond milk)
- 2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- Boil water in a medium saucepan and cook macaroni noodles for 6-7 minutes. Drain noodles and set aside.
- Add oil to a small pan on medium-low heat and cook chopped turkey bacon, garlic and shallot for a couple of minutes. Add diced jalapeno and seeds and saute until softened. Add the sauteed veggies to the pot of noodles.
- For cheese sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium-low heat. Stir in flour and add 1 cup of milk, stirring every minute or so, until mixture starts to thicken. Then add the rest of the milk, and slowly stir in the cheese. Continue to stir for a few more minutes until sauce thickens more. Add salt and pepper.
- Combine cheese sauce with noodles and veggies (the sauce will thicken even more once it begins to cool down). Serve warm.