Did you know that the month of February is National Potato Lover’s Month? Though this tuberous vegetable is a food staple in Irish culture, you don’t have to be Irish to appreciate all that potatoes have to offer.
Potatoes are a favorite in my home…give my husband and daughter potatoes with dinner and they are happy!
Potatoes are considered a starchy vegetable being that they are a rich source of complex carbohydrate, which is our body’s main source of energy. In addition, potatoes offer 45% of the daily value for vitamin C and they contain more potassium than bananas, spinach or broccoli. Potatoes are also a good source of antioxidants like carotenoids and anthocyanins. However, the amount and type of antioxidant varies depending on the type of potato. While white potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, sweet potatoes are one of the richest food sources of vitamin A and carotenoids which they owe to their orange pigment. Most of the nutrients found in potatoes are located in the flesh, but all of the fiber is located in the skin of the potato, which is why (contrary to popular belief) it is perfectly okay to enjoy the entire potato, skin and all!
Any meal can be made complete with the addition of a potato. With all of the different varieties and the multiple ways they can be cooked, the potato is a very versatile food that will never get boring. But be careful – often times when cooking or eating out, the nutrients in potatoes can be masked by unhealthy additions such as butter, bacon or cheese.
Here are some tips on how to keep your potato healthy:
- Don’t be afraid to eat potatoes with the skin on, but always make sure you wash and scrub the potato skin to remove dirt and grit.
- Instead of frying potatoes in oil to make French fries, bake them instead. Toss sliced potatoes in olive oil and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until crispy.
- Instead of topping your baked potato with butter or sour cream, try healthier toppings such as salsa, diced avocado or sautéed onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle some scallions on top to add extra veggie power!
- If you have a sweet tooth, sweet potatoes act as a wonderful side dish to any meal. When baking a sweet potato, wrap it in tin foil and bake for about an hour. This creates a very moist and flavorful potato that tastes delicious with a sprinkle of cinnamon!
- Mashed potatoes can also be made more exciting by adding other vegetables like cauliflower or broccoli. Leave the skin on for that extra fiber boost.
- Potatoes are on the “Dirty Dozen” list of produce that has the most pesticides, so consider buying organic potatoes.
Even though there are only a few days left to February, celebrate National Potato Lover’s Month by serving up your favorite potato recipe for dinner tonight.
Your turn to take action: What is your favorite way to cook potatoes?