Depending on whom you talk to, potatoes are either a bad-for-you “white food” or a healthy starch to include in your diet. Which is it?
We could go on and on about the health benefits of sweet potatoes, but you’ve already heard the spiel. The problem with these fleshy orange tubers is that some people just don’t like them, no matter what — and when we slather on butter and brown sugar to mask the taste, we’ve completely lost sight of the original purpose.
For anyone who’s tried making the switch but just can’t adjust, it may be time to reconsider good old russets and Yukon golds, which actually provide a solid dose of potassium, calcium and vitamin B6 (just to name a few). In truth, the humble potato is vastly underrated in terms of nutritional benefits. Due to the increased interest in foods that are low-carb or have a low glycemic index value, the potato has unjustly earned a bad reputation. But a few simple modifications can turn a classic baked potato or — dare we say it — fries into a reasonable side dish. Here are the recipes to prove it.
Ever wonder why a doughnut leaves you hungry within moments of finishing, while a bowl of oatmeal keeps you full for hours? An innovative study conducted in the 1990s looked at how “full” someone stayed after consuming 240 calories of a variety of foods. The top five scorers were all whole foods and, surprisingly, the No. 1 food to keep you full is often vilified for its high carbohydrate content. (Note: Most vegetables were not included in the study, likely due to the fact that consuming 240 calories of kale would require a lot of chewing! But based on the factors associated with satiety, I assume they would score very well.) Here are six foods that made the list.
Don’t you love the look of this colorful side dish? I adore roasted fingerling potatoes and I make them all the time. Recently, I bought a huge bag of the fingerling medley so I decided to try something new – boiled instead of roasted and smashed instead of whole (I love the combination of colors – purple, red and gold – that’s why I smash them slightly, not completely, so their colors shine through). The crowd (AKA, my family) went wild!
Nutritionally, fingerling potatoes are a good source of potassium, an important mineral used to regulate the fluid and mineral balance in cells, which helps maintain normal blood pressure. Potatoes are also rich in the vitamins C (a powerful antioxidant that prevents cell damage from free radicals, aids collagen production and assists with iron absorption) and vitamin B-6, which helps metabolize protein and carbohydrates.
Slice and roast them or steam and smash them. Sprinkle with salt and some freshly chopped herbs and the delightfully earthy flavor only gets better. Is your mouth watering yet for some fingering potatoes?
Resembling chubby fingers, this variety of spud can be found at farmers’ markets now. Look for skins with golden, rose or even purple and blue hues. The color of the creamy, yet sturdy flesh will also vary from pale yellow, white and purplish-blue.
Some of the most well-known varieties are Russian Banana, French Fingerling and Purple Peruvian but there are even more out there – ask your local farmer what they’re growing.
Ahh, you can have them baked with cheese and bacon, mashed with cream and butter or deep-fried in oil. So versatile, yet so unhealthy: the white potato. But do potatoes deserve such a bad rap? Take a moment, and let’s rediscover one of the best “unhealthy” foods around.
Taken by itself, the great spud compares quite well in calories, fiber and nutrients to most other starches like pasta and rice. A medium potato with its skin (2 to 3 inches wide) has 130 calories, three grams of fiber, three grams of protein and is a source of vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. Comparatively, one cup of pasta or rice (the size of your fist) has about 200 calories for similar amounts of fiber.
So why does the potato get such a bad rap? Obviously how we prepare it can have a huge impact. Loaded potato skins probably have more bacon, cheese and sour cream than they do potato.
Are you sitting down? You should be when you read the nutrition numbers for restaurant-style potato skins with cheddar and bacon. Ready? Here goes:
Total Fat: 83 grams
Saturated Fat: 38 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 97 grams
Protein: 33 grams
Sodium: 690 milligrams
Fiber: 12 grams
And let me remind you, potato skins are considered an appetizer. A single baked potato has 94 calories and zero fat, so what the heck happens in the restaurant kitchen? I’ll tell you what happens: the chefs take a nutrient-rich vegetable and give it the fat equivalent of 9 chocolate frosted doughnuts. Well, I’m not that kind of chef. Dig into my recipe revamp and enjoy the loaded potato skin in all its glory.
I love potatoes! Red, gold, purple, sweet, fingerling, russet. Fall seems like an especially great time to enjoy potato dishes because they partner so well with the other staples of the season (turkey, ham, beef roast). Not only do they round out a dish, their inherent starch helps them soak up sauces and gravies. Here are four of my favorite potato side dishes just in time for the holidays and entertaining (they’re so easy, you might use them on a busy weeknight instead).
The potatoes I used:
Yukon Gold: I love these for fries. They cook up crisp and golden brown. The mayonnaise-based dip I serve with my fry recipe is rich and tangy thanks to roasted red peppers and basil.
Red Potatoes: These are excellent in mashed and “smashed” recipes, especially when paired with bacon and cheddar (like smashed skins!). I used center-cut bacon because it’s got a greater meat-to-fat ratio, but you can also use turkey bacon.
Fingerling Potatoes: This variety is not only adorable, it’s easy to work with. No peeling, dicing or slicing – just roast ‘em whole. The curry coating is warm, wonderful and so fragrant, your neighbors will be sniffing at your door.
Sweet Potatoes: Most people think of regular potatoes for the “scalloped” dish but the sweetness from orange-fleshed spuds partners perfectly with tangy parmesan cheese. The dish is kept light by using low-fat milk instead of a heavy cream sauce. I added a little nutmeg too – to bring out the cheese flavor and enhance the sweetness of the potatoes.
Baked Yukon Wedges With Red Pepper Mayo (pictured above)
4 Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 wedges each
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Combine potatoes and oil in a large bowl and toss to coat. Transfer potatoes to a large baking sheet, in a single layer, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, red peppers and basil in a food processor and puree until smooth. Serve potatoes with mayo dip on the side.
There has been plenty of talk about potatoes in recent media. Are they good for you? Should they be allowed in school lunches? Is the potato, a vegetable, bad? I am here to set the record straight, even though the beloved potato can speak for itself and the nutrition label says it all. So here it is, the truth about potatoes.
You may be surprised to learn that the potato is a nutritional powerhouse. A medium-sized spud weighs in at 110 calories and has no fat or cholesterol. Sounds great, right? Well it gets better. Potatoes contain 45% of the daily recommended value for vitamin C and have as much or more potassium (620 mg) than bananas, broccoli and spinach. With less than 3 % of Americans consuming the recommend intake of potassium, potatoes are the most inexpensive source in the produce aisle. Potatoes are gluten free and a good source of fiber, antioxidants and B Vitamins as well. Still not convinced? Potatoes are an affordable, well liked and versatile component to many meals. Plus, there are thousands of varieties found within the seven types of potatoes — one for each day of the week.