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It's hard to find anyone who doesn't like potatoes.
Even so, potatoes have been somewhat maligned lately. With the surging popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, this high-carb vegetable has been crossed off many dieters' lists.
But eliminating the spud from your diet may not be the healthiest choice.
While it's true that many of the potato servings we eat are processed, one medium potato cooked without added fat and eaten with the skin has only about 100 calories and virtually no fat or sodium. It also supplies about three grams of fiber, and 40 percent of the vitamin C along with 20 percent of the potassium needed daily.
If you fry that medium potato, you will just about double the calories, and significantly increase the fat content.
The figures are for a medium potato, or about the size of a computer mouse.
Order a baked potato at some restaurants, and you are likely to get a potato the size of a shoe.
Of course, calories and all other nutrients would be substantially increased.
Carbohydrates would increase from 20-25 grams for the medium potato, to possibly more than 100 grams for that extra-large-sized serving.
If you're a competitive athlete, this could be very good, but most of us don't need that many calories, carbohydrates or anything else from such a large serving.
America's problem isn't with carbohydrates per se, it is more the enormity of our portions, and the processing we put our foods through.
The more that potato is processed, the less potassium it has, the less fiber it contains, and the more sodium it includes.
New potatoes, which are used in today's recipes, are immature potatoes. Dug up a little sooner than their cousins with thick, brown skins, new potatoes have more moisture and are better for boiling and creaming. They are easy to include in recipes since you don't have to peel them.
RED POTATO SALAD WITH DILL
2 lbs. red-skinned potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 tbsp. mayonnaise
6 tbsp. plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. prepared white horseradish
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, cool slightly. Combine potatoes, bell pepper and onion in large bowl.
Whisk mayonnaise and all remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour half of the dressing over warm potato mixture; toss to coat. Let stand 1 hour.
Before serving, toss salad with remaining dressing.
Note: This dish can be made one day ahead. If making ahead, cover salad and remaining dressing separately; chill. Bring to room temperature, then add dressing as indicated.
Makes 6 servings.
Per serving: 290 calories, 12 gm fat, 2 gm saturated fat, 52 mg cholesterol, 34 gm carbohydrate, 3 gm fiber, 5 gm protein, 142 mg sodium.
Use light mayo, and the nutrient analysis changes per serving to 240 calories, 6 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 27 mg cholesterol and 172 mg sodium. Carbohydrates, fiber and protein remain unchanged.
Source: Bon Appetite Entertaining with Style, from the editors of Bon Appetit, 1996.
ARTICHOKE-STUFFED NEW POTATOES
16 tiny new potatoes (1 1/2 - 2 inch diameter)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 14-oz. can or jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup light mayonnaise dressing (like Light Miracle Whip)
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
Dash ground red pepper
1 recipe Gremolata (recipe follows)
Cut off the top one-third of each potato. Using a melon baller, hollow out the potatoes, leaving 1/4 inch shells. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each potato so it will sit without tipping. (Discard potato trimmings, or cook and use to make potato salad or mashed potatoes). Lightly brush potatoes with oil. Place in a shallow baking pan; set aside.
For filling, in a medium bowl combine the artichoke hearts, mayonnaise dressing, Parmesan cheese, and ground red pepper. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into each potato shell.
Bake in a 450 degree oven about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and filling is golden brown. Sprinkle the gremolata over the potatoes.
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. finely shredded lemon peel
2 cloves minced garlic
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.
Makes 16 appetizer servings.
Per serving (one small filled potato with a bit of gremolata): 70 calories, 4 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 7 gm carbohydrates, 1 gm fiber, 2 gm protein, 144 mg sodium.
Source: Better Homes and Gardens Vegetarian Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens Books, 2002.
Megan Murphy is a Tennessee-licensed registered dietitian and assistant professor of nutrition at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Do you have a nutrition question or a topic you'd like discussed? Call 277-3062 or 529-2372, fax 529-2787, E-mail Meganmyrd@aol.com
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