Potatoes – More than Just a Starchy Carb

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Potatoes are the most widely consumed vegetable in the United States. While the average annual consumption has declined a bit from all-time highs, the average American still consumes 130-140 pounds of fresh and processed potatoes each year.

What is it?

The potato is a member of the nightshade family, related to peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. While it’s commonly thought of as a "root vegetable," the edible part of a potato is not a root but actually just an underground stem, referred to as a tuber. This tuber stores food for the green portion of the potato plant that grows above ground.

Health Benefits

The potato itself is a surprisingly nutritious vegetable. When consumed with the skin on, a single medium potato will provide over 25% of the daily U.S. RDA for vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. In addition, one potato will provide significant amounts of manganese and dietary fiber. All this benefit comes in a vegetable with less than 200 calories.

The reason potatoes get such a bad rap is how they’re most often cooked and consumed. One of the most popular ways people eat potatoes is fried and processed – either as french fries or potato chips. In fact, the average American eats almost 30 pounds of french fries each year.

Fun Fact

Potatoes have been grown by humans for millennia. It’s thought that the potato was first grown domestically over 7,000 years ago in South America. Today there are over 1,000 different varieties of potatoes grown in various regions throughout the world.

How to Eat

Simplest is often best when it comes to preparing and eating potatoes. Potatoes can be cooked in a surprising number of ways, and form the basis for main dishes, side dishes, salads and even desserts.

One way to enjoy baked potatoes in the summer time without running the oven and heating up your entire house is to break out the trusty Crock Pot. Wash your potatoes, wrap each in foil, and then stack them in your slow cooker. Depending on the size of the potatoes and the number you are cooking, you can expect them to take between 4 to 8 hours before they’re ready. Of course, as with many crock pot recipes, cooking them a little too long usually doesn’t affect the end result. Once you’ve baked these potatoes, you can eat them plain, or with any topping you desire -- just remember that the healthier the topping, the healthier the overall meal will be.

Another option is to remove the cooked flesh (discarding the skins), either lightly mash or pass the flash through a potato ricer, sprinkle a bit of flour in with the potatoes and make your own gnocchi. This specialty dumpling is great with your favorite pasta sauce or sautéed in brown butter

Expand your thinking of potatoes beyond the normal french fries and chips, and you’ll find a great addition to your eating habits.


Potato Recipes


Cheesy Buffalo Potato Bake

4 baking potatoes
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon buffalo style hot sauce
1 (24 ounce) package grilled chicken breast strips, diced
1/4 cup buffalo style hot sauce
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash and prick the potatoes. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil.  Place on a cookie sheet.  Bake 1 hour.  Potatoes should be tender.  Remove foil and cut potatoes in half lengthwise.  Spoon out the potato pulp being sure to leave the skins intact.  Place the pulp in a large mixing bowl.  Add 3/4 cup of cheese and sour cream to the pulp.  Stir to combine.  Add 1 tablespoon of buffalo sauce and mix well.  Refill the potato skins.  Top with the remaining cheese.  Place on the cookie sheet and bake at same temperature for about 7 minutes.  The cheese should be completely melted.  Cook the chicken according to package directions.  Once cooked add the butter, 1/4 cup of buffalo sauce and chili powder.  Stir to coat the chicken.  Add the chicken mixture to the top of the potatoes.  Serve with toppings such as chopped green onions, sour cream, hot sauce or Cheddar cheese.


Light Potato Dinner Rolls

2 Tbsp + 3 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
1/2 cup mashed potatoes
10 Tbsp butter, at room temperature, divided
3/4 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
1 large egg
1 tsp. salt
3 1/4 cup flour

Place 1 tsp. of sugar into the warm water and stir to dissolve.  Place the yeast into the mixture and allow to stand for 7 minutes or until the yeast becomes bubbly.  Add the mashed potatoes and stir to combine.  Stir in the remaining sugar, 6 Tbsp butter and milk with a wooden spoon.  Add the egg and the salt and continue stirring with the wooden spoon until completely combined.  Beat in 2 cups of the flour briskly until the mixture becomes smooth.  Slowly add the remaining flour while stirring.  Mixture should become soft and moist.  Lightly flour a flat surface.  Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough becomes elastic.  Add flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.  Grease a large bowl. Place the dough into the prepared bowl and coat the top with grease.  Cover and place in a warm area to rise, double in size, for 1 hour.  Melt 4 Tbsp of butter.  After the dough has risen to double its size punch it down using your knuckles.  Divide the dough into two equal size pieces.  Roll both halves of the dough out to 3/8 inch thickness.  Flour a round cookie cutter and cut the dough into disks.  Brush the top of each disk with the melted butter.  Use the handle of a wooden spoon and make a crease in each disk from side to side in the middle.  Fold the disk over at the crease and press the folded edge together.  Spray a cookie sheet with a non stick cooking spray.  Place the rolls on the prepared cookie sheet and brush again with the melted butter.  Cover the cookie sheet tightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise 45 minutes or until it doubles in size.  Heat the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls 18 minutes or until a soft golden brown.  Rolls can be brushed again with butter just before serving. 


Creamed Red Potatoes with Herbs

12 small new red potatoes
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons minced red onions
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Clean the potatoes well with cold water.  Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover totally with water.  Place the pan on high heat and bring to a quick boil.  Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking the potatoes 12 minutes or until fork tender.  Rinse the potatoes under cold water and drain.  Put the potatoes into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the sour cream.  Add the minced onions, salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate the ingredients.  Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with the dill and parsley just before serving. 


Luck of the Irish Potato Stew

2 pounds lamb cut into chunks
2 pounds white potatoes cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 onions, chopped
3 to 4 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Layer half of the potatoes in the bottom of a Dutch oven.  Next add half of the onions.  Place all the lamb on top of the potatoes and onions.  Place the other half of the onions on top of the lamb and finish with the other half of the potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Add a small amount of parsley to the top. Add enough water about 3 to 4 cups to come 2/3 of the way up the pan.  Place pan over high heat and bring to a rapid boil.  Once boiling place heat on low temperature and cover pan.  Cook approximately 2 hours or until potatoes are fork tender.  Stew should become slightly thick.  Water can be added during cooking if stew become to thick for your liking. 


Man Pleaser Potatoes

5 potatoes
1 onion, sliced thin
1 can Cheddar cheese soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can of milk

Peel and slice potatoes and onions. Layer in a greased casserole dish. Mix soups together and thin with one can of milk. Pour over potatoes. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour or until done. To turn this dish into a main dish, brown ½ lb. ground beef and add in middle layer.