Potato Primer: 4 Healthy Ways to Prep Potatoes

You know you can mash them with cream and butter. You’ve heard of au gratin – butter and cheese. But did you know that there are plenty of ways to prepare everyone’s favorite starchy vegetable without added fat and calories?

Despite their reputation as diet delinquents, potatoes can actually be a healthy side dish, especially in the winter when people tend to crave comfort and carbohydrates. Instead of letting them derail your healthy eating plans, learn how to prepare them so that they can be part of your healthy, balanced diet.

Let ’em Roast: Slow roasting potatoes is a way to elicit maximum flavor with minimal effort – and minimal added calories. Toss with a modest splash of heart-healthy olive oil for flavor and to help the potatoes achieve a mouthwatering, crispy texture. I like to toss them with a bit of rosemary or tarragon, depending on what I’m serving them with. If you’re feeling ambitious, dice some carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts to go along with the potatoes for a bigger veggie boost.

Do the Mash (the healthy way!) Yes, you heard me correctly. It’s possible to enjoy mashed potatoes when you’re trying to reduce or maintain your weight. Just substitute skim milk for cream and skip the butter altogether – you can add fat-free or reduced-fat sour cream to help achieve the creamy texture you adore. Flavor mashed potatoes with your favorite herbs or spices, like chives, for added flavor.

Think Sweet: While white potatoes deliver potassium and dietary fiber, sweet potatoes and yams pack an even more powerful punch. Substitute sweet potatoes in your favorite potato recipes for added Vitamin A and more dietary fiber than traditional white potatoes. If you add a tablespoon of maple syrup and some cinnamon sugar, you might even want one for dessert.

Bake, Bake, Bake: Though a twice-baked potato can be a vehicle for fat, calories and sodium, a simple baked potato is a filling side to pair with any meal – or even enjoy as a main dish topped with broccoli, vegetable chili or low-fat cheese. For the ultimate baked potato, cut a small X in one side of the potato.  Wrap it in foil and bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour, or until it feels soft when you prick it with a fork.

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