Healthy Potatoes: Cooking Tips

Why Potatoes?

Potatoes can be part of a healthy diet, whether you’re looking to drop a few pounds or just to keep your body in tip-top shape. Potatoes have many vitamins and minerals, including potassium and vitamin C (Yeager, 2007). Here’s how to prepare healthy potatoes you can have any day of the week.

Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are one of the healthiest ways to eat potatoes. Oven-baked potatoes require little or no oil, and can be topped with healthy and flavorful toppings, such as fresh herbs, red or green salsa, or even just a sprinkle of sea salt.

To make baked potatoes, put your oven rack as close to the center of your oven as you can get it and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Poke your potatoes with a fork, then, if you want crispy skins on your potatoes, you’ll need a bit of oil (Popoff, 1999). Spray a large bowl with no-stick spray. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Then put the potatoes directly on the oven rack. Bake for 60 minutes, turning halfway through.

Skillet Potatoes

For wonderful skillet potatoes, start with red (aka “boiling”) potatoes. This type of potato has a waxy texture and won’t fall apart as easily as russets will. You’ll need about 5 ounces, or 1 medium, potato per person.

Start by parcooking the potatoes in boiling water (you can also steam them, if you like). This will go faster if you cut the potatoes into the desired size before you cook them. They are ready when you can insert a paring knife and feel just a little resistance.

Next, put some oil in a large, heavy, nonstick skillet (well-seasoned cast iron works great). If you are serving 2-4 people, use one ½ tsp of oil per person. If you are serving 4-6, just use a tablespoon of oil. Place the skillet over medium heat and wait for the oil to shimmer when you tilt the pan. Then add the potatoes, plus salt to taste, and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Flip them and cook on the other side.

French Fries

French fries may be the hardest potato application to make healthy, but it can be done. Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees. Scrub russet potatoes and cut them into steak-fry wedges. Leave the peel on, since it contains most o the potatoes nutrients.

Then, steam your potatoes. To make this easy, use a microwave steaming bag (available in most grocery stores), following the directions on the bag for “potatoes”. Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them, then blot them dry with paper towels. According to America’s test kitchen, this precooking helps the outside crisp and the insides stay creamy (Editors, 2007)

When the oven has preheated, spray a metal (not plastic) cooling or roasting rack with nostick spray and place inside a cake pan or heavy-duty baking sheet. Arrange the potatoes on the cooling rack, spray with no-stick spray (or, if your diet can afford a bit more fat, brush with oil), and sprinkle with salt or garlic salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping with tongs halfway through.

References:

Popoff, D. (1999, 7 February). Good Eats: This Spud’s For You. [Television Broadcast ] Atlanta: Be Squared Productions.

Editors of America’s Test Kitchen Magazine; The Best Light Recipe; 2007

Selene Yeager, Doctor’s Book of Food Remedies; 2007