The world’s fourth largest food crop, potatoes were first cultivated in the high mountains of Peru and then brought to North America in 1621. Since then, potatoes have been a staple at the American dinner table. This is because potatoes can be cooked in so many ways that it has become an art. They can be fried, roasted, mashed, sliced, sautéed, baked – the list goes on and on. Since spuds are a staple and “comfort food” in the American diet, they are often prepared with extra salt, butter, sour cream, and oils.
These days, however, potatoes are being reinvented. They were the first vegetable to be grown in space, they can generate electricity, and there are new, healthy twists on classic potato dishes invented almost daily. And while there are 100 different types of potatoes, here are a few examples and ways they can contribute to your meals with a healthy twist:
- Russet potatoes are your typical, everyday potatoes. They have a light and fluffy texture when cooked, which makes them great baked, mashed, or used as French fries. Next time you’re making mashed potatoes, change up your recipe, and use plain Greek yogurt instead of heavy whipping cream or sour cream. Then, top them with goat cheese and chives for a healthy twist.
- Red potatoes are small in size with red skin. They are moist and creamy on the inside and stay together well through the cooking process. Because they remain intact, they are used often in soups and stews. Add some red potatoes to a stew for some extra fiber and vitamins.
- Purple/blue potatoes are some of the most unusual in the potato family. They are small to medium size with purple to blue flesh. These potatoes are moist with firm flesh, which makes them great additions to a salad. Combine these potatoes with russet potatoes, red peppers, and lemon garlic vinaigrette for a fun meal.
- Fingerling potatoes are about 2-4 inches long and can have red, orange, purple, or white skin. They have a firm texture with a buttery, nutty flavor, which is enhanced in sautéing or roasting. Combine sliced fingerling potatoes, olive oil, garlic, and rosemary in a pan, and have an antioxidant-packed side dish to a meal.
- Sweet potatoes cannot be forgotten in this mix. Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients and carry an excellent creamy texture and sweet flavor. Use sweet potatoes as a vitamin rich version of French fries; simply slice the potatoes, drizzle some olive oil on them, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and pop them in the oven for a tasty French fry twist.
Katie Nahay is a junior at Auburn University majoring in nutrition dietetics. She plans to become a registered dietician and then continue on to physician assistant’s school or continue writing in the nutrition field.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Goodman