The average person’s caloric needs have decreased since the 20th century when lifestyles were more active, yet nutritional needs are generally the same. Getting the nutrition you need without consuming too many calories can be as simple as incorporating nutrient-dense foods, such as potatoes, into your diet.
Not only are potatoes a cost-efficient kitchen staple, there are dozens of quick and easy ways to prepare this ultimate comfort food while taking advantage of an extra helping of nutrition.
A medium-size potato (5.3 ounces or 148 grams) has only about 110 calories, 4 to 5 percent of the average adult’s total daily calories, but provides much higher percentages of many nutrients.
The potato actually delivers a wide spectrum of valuable nutrients. For example, the potato is an important source of complex carbohydrates, often lacking in the American diet.
Falsely fattening image
Although you may think of the potato as a bulky vegetable, it is 80 percent water — just a little less than milk. However, its association with high-calorie toppings like butter, sour cream, gravy and mayonnaise gives the low-calorie potato a false image. In fact, just one tablespoon of butter doubles the calories in a baked potato.
There are many low calorie ways to prepare potatoes deliciously. Here are just a few tasty low or no calorie topping ideas:
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Whipped butter and poppy seeds
- A spoonful of stewed tomatoes and a bit of grated cheese
- Melted butter or margarine thinned with lemon juice
- A mix of dried herbs: parsley, chives, basil or dill
- Mock sour cream (cottage cheese and lemon juice whipped in a blender)
- Chopped onion with coarsely grated black pepper
- Chive-spiked yogurt
- Prepared horseradish
- Heated marinara sauce
- Low calorie dips or salad dressings
Baked Fries with Salsa
- 3 medium Wisconsin Russet potatoes (5–6 ounces each)
- 1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- Salsa, optional
- Heat oven to 450°F degrees.
- Slice potatoes lengthwise 3/4 inch thick, then cut each slice into 3/4-inch-long sticks. Place in large bowl. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with herb seasoning and salt; toss to coat evenly.
- Arrange potato pieces in single layer on nonstick baking sheet or baking sheet coated with vegetable cooking spray.
- Bake 20–25 minutes, until potatoes are golden brown, turning once after 15 minutes.
- Serve immediately, with salsa for dipping if desired.
Quick and Healthy Chile Lime Tacos
- 1/2 pound Wisconsin Yukon Gold or red potatoes, cut into bite-size cubes
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 pound diced boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1/4 cup finely chopped poblano, Anaheim or bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon Mexican seasoning blend
- 1/2 cup red chile enchilada sauce
- 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
- 8 small corn tortillas, warmed or crunchy taco shells
- Optional toppings: shredded cabbage or romaine lettuce, diced tomato, diced avocado, thinly sliced radishes, fresh cilantro leaves and salsa
- 8 lime wedges
- Place potatoes in microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH 5–7 minutes.
- Spray large skillet liberally with cooking spray. Add potatoes and onion; cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring and coating with cooking spray occasionally. Stir in chicken, pepper and seasoning, and cook 5 minutes more. Add red chile enchilada sauce and simmer 5 minutes.
- Place equal amounts of cheese on each tortilla and heat in skillet until cheese is melted. Add potato mixture and any other desired toppings. Serve with lime wedges.
Mediterranean Potato Soup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
- 2 cups water
- 3 medium Wisconsin red potatoes, unpeeled and cubed
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup (2 ounces) whole wheat noodles, uncooked
- 2 cups fresh spinach (or 1 cup frozen spinach)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat oil in 2-quart pot; saute garlic and onion about 3–4 minutes. Add chicken broth, water, potatoes, carrots and seasonings; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
- Add kidney beans and noodles. Bring to boil again; cook until noodles are soft. Remove from heat. Just before serving, add spinach to pot and stir gently.
- Ladle into bowls and serve with Parmesan cheese.