Potatoes sometimes get disregarded because we associate them with greasy fries and chips, but whole potatoes cooked with healthy techniques give you a lot of nutritional bang for your buck.
My family eats a LOT of potatoes. Mashed, baked, roasted or steamed, sometimes we eat potatoes every single night of the week. No, really. My first cookbook was inspired by my husband’s enthusiasm for my dairy-free mashed potatoes.
The problem with potatoes isn’t the potato itself, it’s how we tend to prepare them. Mashed potatoes full of butter and cream are not doing you any favors. French fries are certainly not good for you, and potato chips are arguably even worse. But you don’t have to deep fry a potato or drown it in butter to make it taste good, and when you look at the nutritional value of the vegetable itself, it’s pretty decent.
One large baked potato with the skin contains:
- no fat or cholesterol
- 7 grams of fiber
- 7 grams of protein
- 48 percent of your daily vitamin C
- 18 percent of your daily iron
- 4 percent of your daily calcium
- 46 percent of your daily potassium
- 46 percent of your vitamin B6
Not too shabby, right? We ruin this poor root vegetable’s health value when we deep fry it or slather it in fatty dairy products.
In fact, potatoes contain a compound called kukoamines that lower blood pressure. Its high B6 content means it can contribute to brain and heart health. Of course, if you slather that potato with cheese, sour cream and bacon, you’re likely undoing any heart-healthy benefits. Let’s look at some healthier ways to cook potatoes instead.
Healthy Ways to Cook a Potato
Potatoes are one of the foods you should never eat raw. Luckily, there are lots of healthy ways to cook a potato. For healthy cooking, you know that deep frying is out, but there are so many other ways to cook a potato.
1. Healthier baked potatoes: Kitchen Treaty has a step by step for baking the perfect potato. Instead of bacon and sour cream, though, reach for healthier toppings. Try steamed broccoli and a tahini drizzle on your next baked potato! You can also use salsa, cashew cream or a healthy gravy, like my no-cook miso gravy, to top your baked potato. Load up with veggies and green onions, and you’ve got a healthy, one-plate meal.
2. Healthier mashed potatoes: Instead of mashing with butter and cream, use olive oil, a little salt and your favorite non-dairy milk. Potatoes are healthier with the skin on, so instead of thick-skinned russets, choose red or white potatoes. No peeling required!
3. Roasted potatoes: Dice your potatoes, toss with olive oil, rosemary and a little salt, and roast them in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Your potatoes are done when they’re browned on the outside and fork-tender all the way through.
4. Healthier fries: Oven fries are the healthier answer to your next French fry craving. Cadry’s Kitchen has a great recipe for making the perfect oven fries, including how to select the right potato for the best results.
5. Steamed potatoes: Cubed potatoes actually make a great base for a meal, sort of like baked potatoes, but even more cozy somehow. Pile on veggies, your protein of choice and your favorite healthy sauce, and you’re in business. You can steam potatoes on the stovetop, but my new favorite way to steam them is in the pressure cooker. It’s fast and very hands-off. Cut your potatoes of choice into 2″ pieces, stick them into a steamer basket with 1 cup of water underneath it in your pressure cooker, cook at high pressure for 4 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally. They’re perfect every single time!