Oh, what a time of year this is for appetites of all sorts, appetites for fun, for merriment, but especially for holiday foods whose tastes and smells evoke as much of the Christmas season as gifts under the tree — or, for our Jewish friends, as the lighting of the menorah for Hanukkah.
Food and the over-consumption thereof this time of year isn’t a tradition that popped out of nowhere or arose from the simple human propensity for all things tasty.
Historians tell us that pagan feasting and overeating at winter solstice were as much a necessity in those ancient, lean, mean, dark, unheated, mall-less times as they were a ritual celebrating the return of light. Something along the lines of stay fed and stay alive and, by the way, have a little something extra for the sheer joy of it, given it looks like the sun hasn’t let us down we’ll all be here another year after all.
In the spirit of the season of all things appetizing, may I present an offering of tasty tid-bits centred round the holiday season. Please sample liberally and enjoy:
Eggnog for your eyes?
I couldn’t believe my you-know-whats when I read a press release from the B.C. Association of Optometrists. According to the association, eggnog is but one of many foods rich in nutrients that help protect your eyes against disease and deterioration. Bring it on, I say.
Anti-oxidants such as lutein (LOO-teen), zeaxanthin (zee-a-ZAN-thin) and vitamins A, C and E can protect against diseases such as cataracts (a clouding or darkening of the lens) and macular degeneration (the loss of central vision). Anti-oxidants also keep eye tissue healthy by protecting it against the damaging effects of high-energy blue light.
Egg yolks are perhaps the best single source of lutein and zeaxanthin, ergo the recommendation to suck up an eggnog or three. If someone bugs you about laying waste to your waistline, tell them you’re working on your vision, and you don’t mean double — unless you’re adding a dash of rum, which may need a little tasting of its own on the side.
On a more sober note, other holiday foods good for your eyes include turkey giblets (liver is high in vitamin A); plum pudding with prunes (rich in bioflavonoids, a good source of vitamin C); mandarin oranges (another excellent source of vitamin C); pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots and butternut squash for their vitamin A; and nuts such as hazelnuts (vitamin E) and Brazil nuts (selenium).