Sandra Young, OD, recalls that she was 7 years old when she began cooking for her family. Her mother had a back injury, and she needed help in the kitchen, Dr. Young says. “The first thing I made was pizza, and I’d measure the water and bring the bowl to the bedroom, and she’d tell me what the next step was. There was a messy trail between the kitchen and the bedroom,” she says, laughing. But the passion was sparked, and as Dr. Young went on to her career in optometry, it never left her.
Dr. Young has practiced optometry all over the world after marrying an active duty Air Force optometrist, Michael Young, OD. Dr. Sandra Young has worked in private practice, as a civil servant at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Denver and volunteered for the Red Cross at military hospitals. After attending a meeting of the Ocular Nutrition Society nearly three years ago, she was struck with the idea that she could combine her two passions. “The results of the AREDS studies and other research made me realize that the evidence was quite compelling that nutrition played an essential role in eye health. It was then that I discovered there were no cookbooks or other hands-on resources to get eye-nutrient-dense food from the researchers to our patients’ tables.” She says it clicked right then, and she knew she could provide such a guide book.
She spent nearly three years working on Visionary Kitchen: A Cookbook for Eye Health, which was self-published by Beyond Carrots & Kale in October 2013. Dr. Young says she is gratified that her book is a finalist for four national awards: 2014 Ben Franklin Award: Health; 2013 Foreword Reviews: Health & Fitness; 2014 Next Generation Indie Award: Cookbook & Home/ Garden; and 2014 Eric Hoffer Grand Prize: Short List. To create Visionary Kitchen, “I started out by researching specific nutrients most beneficial to ocular health, and then I came up with a list of nutrient-dense foods. From these lists, I created the recipes,” she says. Coming from an extended family of serious cooks and foodies, she enjoyed thinking up the recipes. “I wanted to make sure that healthy isn’t synonymous with bad-tasting. Healthy eating should be the best-tasting food because you’re using such quality ingredients. You just have to know how to put them together.” Her husband served as chief taste-tester, and the result is a colorful 240-page book of more than 150 recipes.