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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle

My Friend, the Potato

In a switch from last month on turnips, most likely an unfamiliar food for many of you, I want to talk about a very common food for most of us: white potatoes. (For a post on sweet potatoes from 2014, go here.)

From mashed to fried to additions to soups and stews, potatoes are very versatile. (Ever try potato bread or rolls?) While often regarded as a "bad" food – which I do not like to label foods "good" or "bad" by the way – potatoes have lots of positive nutrition.

Nutritionally, 1 medium potato (without skin) contains around 150 calories, 35g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C, and potassium. Potatoes contain almost no fat or sodium.

  • Buy: Look for potatoes that are firm with smooth skins. Avoid potatoes that have soft spots, bruises, cracks, mold, or other signs of decay.

In some potatoes, you may see a slight greenish look under the skin. Avoid these as solanine has developed. Eaten in large enough quantities, solanine is toxic to humans. If you buy potatoes with green under the skin, throw them out or peel off the skin and eat.

  • Price: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fresh potatoes cost $0.56 per pound (or about $0.18 per 1 cup) on average. This is very economical and since they are easy to use, can be a cheaper buy than instant or frozen potatoes.
  • Store: Keep potatoes in a dark, cool place at room temperature and use within a few weeks. Avoid refrigerating raw potatoes, as they start to convert starch to sugar, making them more likely to burn when cooked with dry heat (such as roasting or frying).
  • Prepare: Wash potatoes before using. A vegetable brush may be needed to help remove dust and dirt. A vegetable peeler can help remove the skin easily.

Prick whole potatoes before baking so that steam can get out of the potato without it blowing up. Otherwise, cut potatoes to the size desired in your recipe.

  • Eat: Cook potatoes before eating in a number of different recipes, from sweet to savory. Be aware, although potatoes contain almost no fat or sodium, how you prepare them can add those.


Potatoes and Cabbage (Serves 6, 1-cup serving)

Enjoy an easy one-pot side dish that is a variation of Irish Colcannon.

3 medium russet or red potatoes
6 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 1/2 head)
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup nonfat or 1% milk
1/2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp pepper
2 stalks green onion, diced, optional
1/4 cup fresh parsley, diced, optional (or 1 Tbsp dried parsley)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Scrub potatoes. Cut into 1-inch squares, leaving skin on. Add potatoes and cook until almost tender, about 10-15 minutes.
2. Add cabbage to potatoes and continue cooking until potatoes are tender, about 5-10 minutes more.
3. Drain potato mixture, keeping 1 cup of potato water. Return to pot.
4. Add butter, milk, salt and pepper. Mash mixture with a potato masher or large fork. Add additional butter, milk, or reserved water to reach desired texture. Heat in pot until hot throughout.
5. Mix in green onion and parsley as desired.
6. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 150 calories, 3g fat, 250mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 5g protein

Recipe adapted from: Ohio State University Extension Service, Food Hero, N/D and Utah State University Extension, It's Time for Potatoes!, 2011

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