Don't Spurn the Spuds

If I had a dollar for each time a patient has told me that they aren’t eating potatoes, I would be a wealthy woman.

“But why?” I’ll ask. “Potatoes aren’t good for me” or “they will make me gain weight”, are the usual responses.

Kids, on the other hand, openly admit to eating potatoes, sometimes even confessing that potatoes are the only vegetable they like.

The Truth About Potatoes

So are potatoes the culprit, the food that is making our society overweight and obese? I mean, potatoes are a very common accompaniment to many meals. Or are we unfairly thinking of these spuds as duds? 

I think it is the later. In fact, potatoes are actually a versatile and healthy option for many meals. Plus, potatoes are inexpensive, have a long shelf life and are available year round.

One four ounce potato contains only 90 calories. It is a good source of complex carbohydrate and contains fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Potatoes are cholesterol and fat free and very low in sodium.

But add a tablespoon of butter or margarine to a potato and the calorie count goes up by 100 calories. A tablespoon of sour cream can add another 30 calories. One-half cup of mashed potatoes with milk and butter contains about 110 calories and 4 ounces (a medium order) of French fries has close to 400 calories.

Serve Up Some Potato Excitement

Luckily, there are many exciting and delicious ways to whip up some spuds, while preserving their nutritional value and caloric content. And as always, moderation is key.

Baked potatoes present a great option for many meals. Eaten alone or as a side dish, a piping hot baked potato can be ready in as little as four to six minutes in the microwave. Here are just a few ways to spice up a plain baked potato:

Top it with:

  • Fat-free or low fat sour cream
  • Fat-free or low fat cheese
  • Salsa
  • Chives
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Low fat chili
  • Broccoli (alone or with low-fat cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese)
  • Low fat or fat free ranch dressing
  • Fresh herbs

Other great uses for potatoes:

  1. Dice potatoes and toss them with herbs, spices and even a little olive oil for another great side dish.
  2. Cut potatoes into slices or strips, spray pan with cooking spray and bake as an alternative to French fries. 
  3. Cut the fat and calories with mashed potatoes by using broth, skim milk or fat free sour cream in place of butter and higher fat milk.
  4. Combine diced potatoes, red onions, peas and some low fat mayonnaise for a tasty potato salad.  Serve warm or chilled.

February is National Potato Lover’s Month. So for all you potato lovers out there, celebrate the month of the potato with one of these tasty ideas or try one of your own.