America's favorite vegetable is not only fat - and cholesterol free, it is also high in vitamin C and potassium, and is an excellent source of fiber with the skin on. In addition to being nutritious and delicious, potatoes are versatile.
Potatoes can star at the center of the plate with beef, chicken or fish, or on their own as an easy vegetarian meal. Or, mash, bake or microwave potatoes for a tasty side dish. Leave the skins on your spuds for an extra nutritional boost for a wealth of vitamins, minerals and fiber are found in the peel.
The Nutritious Potato Facts
Potatoes with skin are an excellent source of potassium, which is great for cardiovascular health. In fact, potatoes qualify for a health claim approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which states: "Diets containing foods that are a good source of potassium and that are low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke".
Just one potato offers 21-percent of the Daily Value for potassium. Potassium also helps retain calcium, which is important to build strong bones.
For vitamin C, think potatoes! Potatoes are one of the leading sources of vitamin C in the American diet. This vitamin is a potent antioxidant that helps stabilize free radicals, which may prevent cellular damage. Vitamin C also produces the collagen that helps hold bone tissue together.
One medium potato (5.3 ounces) with skin contains three grams, or 12-percent of the recommended daily intake for fiber. Preliminary studies show that fiber is beneficial for a healthy digestive system and may help reduce the risk of some cancers and possibly heart disease. Consuming adequate fiber and water helps increase satiety between meals.
Potatoes contain glutathione, an antioxidant that may possibly help protect against some cancers. Per serving, potatoes, along with avocadoes, asparagus, squash, okra, cauliflower, broccoli and raw tomatoes, have the highest glutathione content compared to other vegetables. In a study comparing the overall antioxidant activity of potatoes, bell peppers, onions and broccoli, potatoes ranked second highest after broccoli.
Slices of baked potato skins can be crisped in the oven for a healthful snack. Or try stuffing halved skins with cheese, meat, fish or vegetables. If you wish, mix the filling with the potato pulp.
Plan ahead. Before you bake the potatoes, prick the skins only where you plan to cut them into slices or halves. Then there won't be extra holes for the filling to leak through.
When you scoop out the pulp with a spoon, leave a little next to the skin so that the skin won't burn or tear when recooked.
To store cooked potato skins (filled or not), freeze them on a cookie sheet. Then stack them in freezer bags, seal and keep frozen until you're ready to use them.
In 1710, William Salmon, a popular and prolific author, claimed that the cooked tubers of potatoes stopped "fluxes of the bowel" and could cure tuberculosis and rabies. He also reiterated a long held belief about plants that reproduced themselves below ground: the potato would "increase seed and provoke lust, causing fruitfulness in both sexes." These claims joined other folk-medicine beliefs: a peeled potato in the pocket could cure a toothache, a dried potato hung around the neck would cure rheumatism, and potato juice rubbed on warts would make them disappear.
Did You Know?
Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes in approximately 2500 BC.
Now we'll share a few popular potato recipes along with links to even more, if you're on a potato roll!
Potato and Pepper Frittata Recipe
5 ounces (about one small) yellow onion
6 ounces sweet roasted peppers
1 cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons skim milk
8 ounces (about 1-1/4 cups) refrigerated hash brown potatoes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Trim the onion and cut it in half lengthwise, then slice it thin (about 3/4-cup). Drain and thinly slice the roasted peppers (about 1/2-cup).
Preheat a 10-inch nonstick skillet with an oven-safe handle over high heat. In a large bowl, whisk the liquid egg substitute and the milk together until frothy. Stir in the onion, roasted peppers, and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Garlic Red Potatoes Recipe
1 pound red potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
Three medium garlic cloves
Wash potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet large enough to hold the potatoes in one layer. Add garlic and saute until about one minute. Add potatoes and saute until golden on all sides, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt and cover. Reduce heat and cook gently for about ten minutes, or until soft, tossing and stirring from time to time. Remove garlic and season with a little more salt and pepper to taste.
2 pounds thinly sliced red potatoes
1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fat-free)
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 medium seeded tomato, cut into very thin strips for garnish
Coat 8-by-8-inch baking dish with vegetable spray. Toss potatoes with fennel seeds, pepper, garlic and one tablespoon of the olive oil until well coated. Spoon potato mixture into baking dish; cover and microwave on high power for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 400-degrees. Mix together salt, bread crumbs, Parmesan, thyme and remaining one tablespoon oil. Drain potatoes, sprinkle bread crumb mixture over potatoes and bake in oven, uncovered, eight to ten minutes or until potatoes are tender and crumbs are lightly browned. Sprinkle with tomato strips to serve. Yield: 8 servings
Blender Potato Soup
1/2 cup extra light olive oil
3 cups celery, chopped
1-1/2 cup chopped onions
1-teaspoon fresh minced garlic
1-quart of chicken broth
3 cups peeled and diced russet potatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
In a large saucepan, heat oil. Add celery, onions and garlic; saute until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients except 1/3-cup parsley and cheese; bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Pour half of mixture into blender; puree until smooth. Set aside. Pour the remaining soup into blender; blend until coarsely chopped. Combine both mixtures. Ladle soup into bowls; garnish with remaining parsley and cheese.
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