Healthy Vision: Because We Eat With Our Eyes First!

While I primarily focus on sweets on this website, my recent writing about body acceptance, health, and well-being has been personally rewarding in that I feel that my words are really able to help people live fuller, more delicious lives. So when I was offered the opportunity to share information on eye health in this sponsored post, I felt it was appropriate, important, and worthwhile information to share. After all, we eat with our eyes first, and the world out there is big and wide and open and beautiful. We should all approach it with an open heart and clear, bright eyes! Cuppie with braces, glasses and pocket protector

In a nutshell, my story is this: when I was 11 years old, I got my first pair of glasses. I have worn them ever since. I love my glasses--they are part of my personality and I have different pairs to match my mood, or at least my shoes. That having been said, I know it is of the utmost importance to care for my eyes. While my vision isn't naturally the best, I know that by keeping myself healthy, I can help prevent vision decline as I get older. As cute as glasses can be, I don't want to succumb to macular degeneration or age-related eye diseases. 

Basically, I want to do everything I can to keep my eyes healthy.

Eye health is often overlooked, although vision is responsible for many health issues: 258 million people worldwide are visually impaired; 39 million are blind. A significant percentage of eye disease in the US is age-related macular degeneration. Overall, the medical costs associated with vision disease exceed $20 billion dollars per year in the US.

The thing is this: much of that cost and suffering is preventable. If we were to take proactive steps toward eye health, the costs and medical complications could be reduced dramatically. 

So how do we take proactive steps? The first step, which is accessible to anyone, is proper nutrition. 

Taking care of your eyes: nutrition everyone needs 

There are certain essential nutrients which can help maintain eye health. Let's explore them:

Lutein and zeaxanthin

These are two nutrients which support eye health. Both lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, occurring naturally in leafy greens such as kale and spinach, as well as other fruits and vegetables. They have two key functions: they absorb potentially harmful blue-violet wavelengths of light energy that come into the eye, and they also function as antioxidants.

Studies show that lutein and zeaxanthin can boost macular pigment optical density (MPOD) in people in early stages of age-related macular degeneration, enhancing overall retinal function.

Most Americans only get about 1mg of the suggested 10mg per day of lutein, and 0.2 mg of the suggested 2mg per day of zeaxanthin. 

DHA and EPA Omega-3s

These polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found primarily in fatty fish like salmon, are important for overall health, but are particularly important for healthy eyes. 

Some studies have shown a link between low levels of DHA and EPA and eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, AMD and retinopathy of prematurity. By increasing intake of DHA and EPA Omega-3s today, we can help maintain our eye health.

Vitamin E

This is no mere vitamin: it's a fat soluble superstar which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is naturally found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and greens.       

However, neither adults nor children are getting the recommended amount of vitamin E from diet alone.

So how do we up our intake of these vital nutrients?

Even with the best of intentions, fitting all of these nutrients into our diet can be difficult. This is where vitamins and other essential nutrient supplements can play a vital role in closing the nutrient gaps in our diets.

If you’re looking for a vitamin that helps fill nutritional gaps, consider products like Centrum Adult Multivitamins.*
For more information on essential nutrients for brain health, go to
 *This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This post includes my own personal opinions, and should not be taken as medical advice.

Now & Later Pop-Tarts

Oh yes, I did. 

Before today, Now & Later Pop-Tarts were not a thing, but now they are. All thanks to ME. 

Well, me and Now & Later. Because it's thanks to a box of these sweet candies that arrived at my door that these sweet treats now exist.

OMG. Did you love Now & Later candies as much as I did growing up? They were actually my cool older sister's favored candy, and as a result, they seemed to be the most impossibly cool and grown-up foodstuff I could possibly think of. They've always tasted like aspiration and joy to me. And sweet and sour goodness, of course.

To say that I'm proud of this recipe would be a vast understatement. Yes, they're funny and clever and feature pop culture candy and pastry icons in one mashup. But beyond that, these things actually taste good. Melted down with butter, the taffy-like candy becomes soft and creamy, and the flavor is the perfect sweet-tart complement to a rich, flaky homemade pastry dough. The creamy icing is pretty as a picture when studded with sprinkles and a little extra candy for good measure. 


For the pastry

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces, very cold
  • 1 stick butter, cut into large cubes, very cold
  • 1/2 cup ice water

For the filling

  • 6 packages (6 candies each) strawberry Now & Later candies 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

To top

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream 
  • sprinkles
  • 6 Strawberry Now & Later candies, cut into small pieces


Make the pastry. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and the small pieces of butter. Combine using a pastry mixer until the butter and flour mixture resembles a meal, and no pieces are larger than the size of a pea.

Add in the rest of the butter (the bigger pieces). Coat with flour, and then squeeze each piece so that it is flat. Weird, I know, but trust me, it makes a great crust.

Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough comes together. It won't be totally wet; just add water until you can easily clump the dough. 

Divide the dough in two equal parts, and form each portion into a rectangle. Wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for several hours. 

Once you're ready to get going, it's time to make the filling. In a double boiler, melt the candy and the butter over low heat. The low heat helps the mixture melt and remain cohesive as the candy melts. Once melted, set to the side. Stir every few minutes to make sure it doesn't separate while you work on the next steps.

Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll the dough into a rectangle shape. Cut off the corners with a sharp knife or pizza cutter so that you have an approximately 12 by 10 inch rectangle. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone. 

Cut the dough into 8 equal portions. Repeat with the second round of dough. Now, you'll have 16 rectangles. Place half of the rectangles on the prepared baking sheet; keep the other ones close by as they will be the tops of the tarts. 

Spoon the filling in the center of half of the rectangles. Don't spread it all the way to the edges.

Brush the uncovered edges with your egg wash mixture. This will help the top portion stick.

Place the second rectangle of dough bookmarked to match up with each piece, and press firmly (to create a seal). Really be sure that you've made a seal, as the candy can leak if you don't. Enforce that seal by pressing the edges with the tines of a fork; poke the tops of the pastries with the tines of a fork a few times to create a release valve for any steam while the tarts bake. 

Place the tarts in the fridge for about 30 minutes; this will help the filling set a little so it doesn't "bleed" too much during baking. 

Near the end of the chilling period, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 

Bake in your preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, or until just lightly browned.

If you find that a few of the pastries have leaked candy, don't panic. Some "bleeding" is fine; even if it looks like a lot, the pastries are probably nicely filled--mine leaked filling, and it looked like a lot, but it actually wasn't much at all. But I was really glad I lined the tray with a silicone mat, because it made cleanup so much easier. Once the pastry is browned to your liking, remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes or so on a wire rack.

Make the icing. In a bowl, sift the sugar; stir in the cream or milk until it reaches a glaze-like consistency. Drizzle on top of each of the tarts. Immediately sprinkle each one with sprinkles and the cut-up candy.

Let the icing set, then enjoy. 

What Happens When You Melt an Entire Bag Worth of Candy Corn in the Oven?

Here's the answer to a question you might never even have known you had: what happens when you melt the contents of an entire bag of candy corn in the oven? 

I can tell you what happens, because I did it the other day. 

The short answer is this.

But if you'd like a little more information...allow me to expand. 

First, I got a baking tray and set a silicone mat on top (so the corn wouldn't stick. I know from melting candy in the microwave that it does not like to come off of a surface once melted).

Then I scattered the contents of a bag of candy corn on the sheet.

Then I preheated the oven to 300 degrees F. I just kicked back and looked at Facebook til it was fully warmed, with the tray of candy corn right next to me.

Then I popped the tray in the oven, and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, here's what I found.

It flattened a bit as it cooled. Perfect.

I let it cool for a while longer, then noticed that it began to firm so that I could actually pick up an edge.

Actually, the whole thing. It looked like beautiful stained glass.

I tried to roll it, and it rolled. But then I had an even better idea!

I unrolled and re-rolled into a cornet shape.

I put some foil in, and used a mug to keep the opening in shape as it set.

Once it did, I filled it with candy corn, for a...


Oh my god, I am so brilliant.

*Pats self on back.*

Oh, and P.S., once the cornucopia set, it was crisp. That means that you can crack off shards of it and have a little snack once you've finished the candy corn kernels you stuffed inside.

So...what happens when you melt an entire bag's worth of candy corn in the oven?

You may find that you need more candy corn, is what. Because it's a lot of fun to get crafty with your sheet of candy corn melt!

Check out all of my #whathappenswednesday experiments - on this site, and I also document them on Twitter, Facebook, and instagram, via the hashtag. 

Neapolitan Trifles: So Sweet

Is there a happier dessert confabulation than the Neapolitan triplet combination of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry?

Me, I'm a sucker for Neapolitan. Oddly, the ice cream doesn't quite do it for me, but everything else labeled Neapolitan really, truly does. Like blondies. Or cupcakes. or cake.

So when I received a review copy of Something Sweet by Miriam Pascal, I was super excited to see Neapolitan trifles. They are not only adorable, but sound like a perfect, travel-friendly, palate pleasing dessert. So let's get to it! 

Neapolitan Trifles

Dairy or Pareve Yield 12‐14 (6‐oz) trifles

This recipe was created out of necessity. I needed a dessert recipe that looked pretty, traveled well. and could be made ahead and frozen when fully completed. This one fits all of those criteria. It freezes well, can be stored frozen and transported in a sealed jar, looks gorgeous, and tastes great. It was a hit, and surely will be a hit at your parties too!

1 cup flour
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2⁄3 cup brown sugar
1⁄3 cup oil

1 cup heavy whipping cream or nondairy whip topping 1 cup strawberry pie filling, puréed
8 oz cream cheese or soy cream cheese
1⁄3 cup sour cream or soy sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream or nondairy whip topping

1⁄3 cup powdered sugar

Prepare the chocolate crumbs: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Combine all crumb ingredients in a bowl. Mix until combined and the texture of coarse crumbs. (I found it easiest to mix this with my fingers.)

Spread the crumbs in a single layer on prepared baking sheet; bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely before assembling the trifles.

Prepare the strawberry mousse: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on high speed, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Remove whipped cream to another bowl. There’s no need to wash the bowl before continuing. Add pie filling, cream cheese, sour cream, and vanilla to mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed until combined and smooth. Add powdered sugar; beat until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture until combined. Set aside.

Prepare the vanilla cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on high speed, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until combined.

Assembly: Place crumbs into a 6‐ounce jar or cup, filling it about one‐quarter full. Spoon or pipe strawberry mousse over crumbs, filling container a little more than three‐ quarters full. Pipe on vanilla cream, filling container almost to the top. Repeat with remaining jars.

Note Use canned pie filling, or use the filling for Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies (p. 118), using additional strawberries to replace the rhubarb.
Variation Substitute a container of strawberry ice cream for the mousse to create an ice cream trifle.

Plan Ahead These trifles freeze beautifully (see introduction)! Move them into the fridge for a couple of hours before serving to allow them to soften a bit. 

Recipes from Something Sweet by Miriam Pascal. Reproduced with permission from the copyright holders, ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications;

Peanut Butter Blossoms, Unblossomed

Peanut butter blossoms.

Photo via Flickr member Dan4th

Photo via Flickr member Dan4th

You've definitely seen these cookies, even if you don't know them by that name. Well, they got that name because that is how they were entered in the 1957 Pillsbury Bake-Off. They weren't the winning recipe: that honor went to "accordion treats", a sort of tuile-like cookie, which took home nearly $50,000. But even though peanut butter blossoms didn't win big money wise, perhaps they were the true winner because they would go on to become a classic cookie. Everyone has seen or tried these cookies--when is the last time you picked up an accordion treat cookie, though?

I became re-acquainted with the blossoms when I dug up an old recipe book of my late grandma--a self published church cookbook from the 1980s. I love these kinds of books. And peanut butter blossoms have become an enduring classic partly because of their popularity at bake sales and in books like this. 

Of course there was a recipe for peanut butter blossoms in this book. It was a fairly straightforward recipe, but I decided to veer off from tradition. The reason is that I needed some peanut butter cookies, but I was actually primarily using them to crumble for a most awesome cookie pie crust, so I didn't want the chocolate kisses included.

So I made the cookies, but...unblossomed.

Turns out, the peanut butter blossom sans blossom is still quite good. It's a solid cookie recipe, and the results taste like the peanut butter cookies you remember as a kid (or at least the ones I do). 

It feels like maybe there's a life lesson in that: even if we're not fully "bloomed" in life, there can still be delicious stuff going on even if our life isn't in full blossom. 

Ponder that one over a cookie, lets?

Peanut Butter Un-blossoms

Makes 24 or so cookies - Printable version here

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups self-rising flour

If you want to blossom-ize them: 24 Hershey's kisses

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line or grease two baking sheets.

Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter, and salt until really nice and fluffy. Add in the milk, vanilla, and egg; stir it until everything is combined.

Add the flour, and mix gently until combined into a cohesive dough. 

Portion out the dough into balls, about 1 inch in size. Place them on the baking sheets with a little space between. Use the tines of a fork to gently flatten the cookies by pressing once vertically and once horizontally, leaving a cross-hatch pattern. OR, if you must blossom these cookies, don't do the fork thing--simply press a hershey's kiss on top of each cookie. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Let cool on the sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


Rustic Peach Tarts

I always get a little sad when summer ends. 

I know that fall is a great season. Full of bright colors, crisp mornings, tasty pumpkin-flavored treats. But still. Summer is my favorite season, so saying goodbye is always a little bittersweet to me.

Don't worry, I won't sink into post-summertime sadness for too long. Very soon I'll get with it and start baking cozy pumpkin-flavored treats like the rest of the world. But for now, I want just one more bite of summer. 

The tail end of the peach season is sometimes when you get the sweetest, juiciest specimens of fruit. And I want to tell you that it's worth your time to make these rustic peach tarts. They are a wonderful way to get a last taste of summer, and to keep your heart and soul warm for the chilly days ahead.

So what are you waiting for? Let's get baking.

Rustic peach tarts 

Makes 8 tarts

  • Dough for two 9-inch pie crusts (I used this recipe, using half whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups sliced peeled peaches (6-8 whole peaches, depending on the size)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (for an egg wash)
  • Make sure the pie dough is prepared and in discs, ready to be rolled out when you are.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and the sliced peaches. Toss gently. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for one hour.

After an hour, place the peaches in a strainer over a saucepan, so that the juices can drain into the pan. Give them a gentle stir to ensure you’ve gotten as much of the liquid out of the mixture as possible. Place the peaches back in the large bowl and set to the side for the moment.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Add this mixture to the peach juice in the saucepan. Heat on medium-low on the stovetop, stirring constantly to keep the mixture from scorching or caramelizing. Once the mixture comes to a boil, continue stirring constantly for one minute. It should start to become rather thick. Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and butter; the butter should melt very rapidly.

Pour the hot mixture on top of the peaches and gently mix, so that the peaches are evenly coated with the mixture. It will be quite thick. Set the mixture to the side for a moment.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F while you prepare the pastries.

While the oven preheats, roll out the pastry. Personally, I divided each portion of dough into four equal parts (making 8 parts total) and rolled each into an approximately 7-inch circle.

Spoon a nice, generous spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, and then roll the edges inward, creating a sort of rustic bowl shape.

Brush the edges with an egg wash. I got all fancy and sprinkled mine with candied basil, too. 

Place the pie in the oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Remove foil. Cool on a wire rack for several hours before serving.

Do you like peach pie?