In the US, potatoes are the most commonly consumed vegetable. They’re affordable and widely available. We’re surrounded by messages to eat family-size bags of potato chips and to supersize the french fries. Given that, we likely don’t need a reminder to eat our potatoes, right? Many people would scoff at the idea of telling Americans to eat more potatoes! I think we could all use a reminder though that potatoes can be satisfying, delicious, and have nutritive value. And, they don’t need to be fried.
Fried potatoes can contain trans fats which are known to increase our risk for heart disease. In addition, they’re high in sodium and prepared without the skin, meaning they’re missing a very nutritious part of the potato.
Needless to say, potatoes are commonly overlooked when thinking of nutritious foods, and preparation is important. The skin contains the majority of the iron and fiber in potatoes. Whole potatoes also naturally contain protein, potassium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C. The iron content in potatoes is well absorbed with the presence of Vitamin C. Consuming foods containing Vitamin C alongside iron-rich foods increases the rate of absorption. Potatoes have also been shown to be one of the most satisfying foods, even more than rice and pasta.
If french fries are a favorite food, it’s possible to come really close with home preparations. Slice whole potatoes into wedges and dress them with olive oil, a bit of salt, pepper, and any spices you might want like smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, etc. Roast them in the oven at 425 degrees until browned and crispy, probably about 30-35 minutes. Pro tip: Adding the nutritional yeast before baking helps to give them an additional crunch, a cheesy taste, and a solid dose of Vitamin B12! Feel free to add more after too! Roasted potatoes are also a great vehicle for lots of fresh garlic-- a natural antibiotic!
If you love mashed potatoes, you can also leave the skin on when mashing potatoes--it helps add texture and saves time! Saturated fat like butter can be replaced with heart-healthy olive oil and unsweetened non-dairy milk can help add creaminess. Fresh herbs like green onions and even dried herbs like rosemary and thyme can help give them a robust and memorable flavor.
I also love to add diced potatoes to soups to help make them more filling. Pureeing potatoes with an immersion blender into the broth of a soup can help give it a creamy texture, replacing the need for added milk or cream. With pureeing, puree skinless potatoes and include some skin on potato chunks afterward too!
So, the next time you’re told to pass on potatoes, remember how valuable they can be and get creative!