Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Potatoes can provide nutrient-dense option

October 18, 2006

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Q: Do potatoes have vitamin C? Are potatoes healthy?

A: Yes, potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C (45 percent of the recommended daily value), which is the same amount as a serving of spinach but more than one medium tomato (40 percent DV) or sweet potato (30 percent DV).

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that may act as a potent antioxidant. Vitamin C aids collagen production, assists with iron absorption, helps heal wounds, keeps gums healthy and guards against infection by keeping immune systems strong.

Potatoes qualify as a nutrient-dense food - so, yes, they are healthy for us. The problem is that we often load them with a lot of fat and sodium that should be used sparingly. In addition to them being rich in vitamin C, they are only 100 calories and are an excellent source of potassium. One medium potato with skin has 720 milligrams of potassium or 21 percent of the recommended DV. Potassium is a mineral and is part of every body cell. It helps regulate fluids and mineral balance in and out of cells, and in doing so, helps maintain normal blood pressure. Potassium is also vital for transmitting nerve impulses and helping muscles contract. A 2006 report from the American Heart Assn. indicates that almost one-third of Americans have hypertension and that potassium is a powerful dietary factor that can lower blood pressure.

One medium potato with skin is also a good source of fiber, providing 3 grams, or 12 percent of the daily value, per serving. Although not technically considered a nutrient, fiber aids in digestion and may help in controlling body weight and blood sugar levels. In addition, research suggests that fiber may help decrease the risk of colon cancer and heart disease.

Here are some quick ideas to jazz up those potatoes:

Potatoes margherita

Slit and fluff hot baked russet potatoes and top each with 1/4 cup diced fresh yellow and/or red tomatoes, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano. Drizzle each with 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Slit and fluff baked russet potatoes and place on a baking sheet. Top each with 1/4 cup prepared salsa, 2 tablespoons rinsed and drained canned black beans (or black soybeans) and 2 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Place under broiler and cook 1 minute, or until cheese melts. Top each potato with 1 tablespoon chopped green onions.

Chipotle mashed potatoes

Cook and mash three medium peeled white potatoes. Mix in 6 tablespoons nonfat milk, 6 tablespoons shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

Buttermilk-bacon mashed potatoes

Cook and mash three medium peeled russet potatoes. Mix in 6 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk, 1/4 cup crumbled cooked soy or turkey bacon, and 2 tablespoons chopped green onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Wasabi mashed potatoes

Cook and mash unpeeled red or white potatoes. Mix in 6 tablespoons nonfat milk, 1 tablespoon prepared wasabi paste or 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish and 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives. Season with salt and pepper.

Parmesan potato wedges

Cut three medium (5- to 6-ounce) yellow potatoes into 1-inch wedges; coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese; toss and place on nonstick baking sheet in a single layer. Roast 15 minutes. Meanwhile, seed and cut one each medium red and green bell pepper into 1-inch strips. Toss in bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil; place among potato wedges on baking sheet. Roast an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes and peppers are tender.

Cajun fries

Cut two russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each) into fresh fry shapes; coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 to 3 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning; toss and place on nonstick baking sheet. Roast 15 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and tender.

Pesto-scented potatoes

Quarter eight small red potatoes, uniform in size (about 1 pound). Combine 2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto and 2 minced garlic cloves. Toss with potatoes to coat. Place on a nonstick baking sheet. Roast 15 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and tender.

Nicoise potato salad

Quarter eight small red potatoes, uniform in size (about 1 pound). Place potatoes in large pot; pour over enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Arrange potatoes on platter with one 6-ounce can drained white tuna in water, 12 steamed asparagus spears, 8 radishes, 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, and 2 tablespoons minced red onion. In a small bowl, whisk 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, and 4 teaspoons olive oil; drizzle over salad. Season with salt and pepper.

Potato salad with sun-dried tomatoes

Cut three medium (5- to 6-ounce) white potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Cook and drain as directed above. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in 1 cup thawed frozen green peas, 1/2 cup diced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil from tomatoes, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Italian potato salad

Quarter eight small red potatoes, uniform in size (about 1 pound). Cook as directed above, adding 1 cup fresh or frozen green beans after cooking potatoes 8 minutes. Return to boil and continue to cook 2 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and beans are crisp-tender. Drain and transfer to large bowl. Mix in one 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts including marinade, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

- Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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