The Spectacular Spud

Whether you say poh-tay-toh, or pah-tah-toh, it is still the most popular vegetable in America. And since September is Potato Month, this is a perfect opportunity to embrace the spud! Potatoes often get a bad rap as being fattening and high in carbohydrates. Sure, french fries drenched in oil, or a loaded baked potato are far from healthy choices. However, a baked potato the size of a medium fist or baseball contains about 160 calories, about the same amount of calories as an ounce of potato chips. This same potato also contains 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 37 grams of energy providing carbohydrate along with a healthy doses of vitamin C and potassium, not to mention other essential nutrients. The potato is a convenient, practical, and nutritious option when it comes to meal planning.

There are countless types of potatoes, but it is helpful to know that certain potatoes are better for some methods of preparation than others:

  • Low starch potatoes like Yukon gold and fingerlings are good for soups, stews, and casseroles. The low starch content prevents these potatoes from falling apart after absorbing liquid.
  • Medium starch potatoes like red and purple potatoes, turn crispy when rubbed with olive oil and roasted.
  • High-starch Idaho and Russet potatoes are perfect for baked potatoes, roasted potatoes, or french fries.
  • And any potato is great for mashing. Try this recipe for Hearty Mashed Potatoes.

In addition to being a healthful option, potatoes are a handy staple as they can be stored for up to 6 months in a cool dry place. To get the maximum shelf life from your potatoes:

  • Remove potatoes from plastic bags and store them in brown paper bags or on a tray where the air can circulate.
  • Potatoes like a dark environment. Prolonged light may cause potatoes to turn green.
  • Avoid storing potatoes near onions. The gasses emitted by the vegetables may cause the vegetables to age more quickly.
  • Do not refrigerate potatoes. Refrigeration will promote conversion of potato starch into sugar, resulting in a change in taste and color when cooked.
  • For maximum shelf life, wash potatoes just before using them.

Clean before you cook! 
Before cooking, be sure to clean potatoes well. Wash potatoes in lukewarm or cool water to loosen any dirt particles. Scrub with a vegetable brush or scrubber, paying particular attention to eyes of the potatoes where dirt can concentrate. Remove any green sprouts you may find. Rinse again and pat dry with a paper towel and you are ready to start cooking. Bake, broil, boil, steam, roast, grill, or fry potatoes. Remember, whenever possible, cook potatoes with the skin on to maximize nutrition content.

Try these potato recipes:

  • Garlic Fries – These crispy fries are sure to become a family favorite. Great with burgers or as a snack, they can’t be beat.
  • German Potato Salad – Looking for a potato salad recipe that is free from mayo? Apple cider vinegar and sweet onion give this potato salad great flavor, especially when served warm.
  • Double Stuffed Loaded Potatoes – These potatoes are a real treat and when paired with a salad can make a full meal.

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