In the last few years, low carb diets have been all the rage. There are the diets that tell you to stay away from all carbs but eat plenty of meat and cheese. There are diets that let you have veggies and oatmeal but no fruit. And there are the programs that have you gradually adding carbs over a period of time to your diet. None of these low carb programs have worked for me. First of all, I love carbs and couldn’t go without them. Secondly, I work out and carbs are a good source of energy. Moderation is always key so combining a healthy carbohydrate with a protein has always worked for me.
Recently, I was contacted by the US Potato Board to participate in a live web chat with the Nutrition Twins. The Nutrition Twins are celebrity dietitians and personal trainers who have teamed up with The US Potato Board to offer advice on how potatoes can be part of a healthy diet. This session reinforced my thoughts on eating healthy and how good carbs can be part of a healthy balanced diet. Potatoes are a good choice as a healthy carbohydrate and provide many nutrients many people do not know about.
Did you know that a potato has more potassium than a banana? If you eat a potato with the skin on it, it provides you with 45% of your daily vitamin C, 2 grams of fiber and over 600mg of potassium. At 110 calories per serving, it is naturally fat and sodium free. Not only do potatoes contain valuable nutrients, they are also very inexpensive. With many families on a tight budget, potatoes never drive up the grocery bill.
I remember back in college when I was a waitress in a stromboli/ pizza restaurant. I didn’t have spare money so it was nice to get a free employee meal. But eating pizza and strombolis all the time weren’t good for the waistline. So when some of the other waitresses and I wanted a more healthy option, we brought in our own potatoes, baked them in the oven and topped them with pizza and stromboli toppings. This made the perfect meal. Chicken, mushrooms, broccoli, tomato sauce, onions, peppers and cheese were great on potatoes. Anything that goes in a stromboli or on a pizza also tastes great on a potato.
If you need potato ideas, the US Potato Board has a great website called Mom’s Dinner Helper. If you are stumped on what to make for dinner, here is your place to find quick, inexpensive meals. I love all the tips and fun facts that I found on the site. Dinner time should be a fun family experience and I found this cool idea on their site. In our family, we have make your own stir fry or pizza night with my kids. But how about a mashed potato martini bar night? You can simply set up some healthy fixings of chili, salsa, chives, light sour cream, low-fat cheese and veggies and then let each person choose their own color of potatoes to dress up. Mash the colored potatoes and place in martini glasses. Let everyone choose their toppings and all is happy! Look at how beautiful this looks. Perfect idea for a party too.
I love French fries and they can make even the pickiest child happy. They are one of my weaknesses however if I make them this way from the Mom’s Dinner Helper site, no one has to feel guilty. Salsa is a great dipping sauce that adds veggies but no extra calories. The next time, you need a healthy side dish, try these. Who doesn’t love French fries? So the next time your family asks what’s for dinner, you say potato!
**Pictures taken with permission from the US Potato Board.
Baked Fries With Salsa (taken from Mom’s Dinner Helper)
3 medium Russet potatoes, uniform in size (5 to 6 ounces each)
1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Slice potatoes lengthwise 3/4 inch thick, then cut each slice into ¾-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 a single layer on nonstick baking sheet or baking sheet coated with vegetable cooking spray. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until potatoes are golden brown, turning once after 15 minutes. Serve immediately, with optional salsa for dipping.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post however the US Potato Board did send a complimentary package which included a book, potato scrubbing gloves and some other small goodies. The opinions expressed are solely my own.