4 Jun 2006

The Healthy Potato

What would we do without potatoes ? They are the basis of most meals in the West. I know I could never survive without them. Now that we can get organic potatoes they are even more tastier than before.

Potatoes are more nutritious than most people realize. One medium to large potato (148g/5.3oz - 100 cals) contains 45% of our daily requirement of Vitamin C. They have fewer calories than a grapefruit, more potassium than a banana and more usable iron than any other vegetable. They are also high in fiber, especially when the skins are left on and contain vitamins B1 and B6, potassium, niacin, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and folate.

They are an excellent source of low fat energy for our brain and body. Scientists recently found that they contain chemicals called kukoamines which lower blood pressure.

Always store your potatoes out of plastic bags, in a cool, dark, dry place, to avoid greening. Do not store them in the fridge. If they do turn green in certain areas cut the green area off before using.

Potatoes are so versatile as they can be steamed, boiled, roasted, baked and fried. If you are watching your calories it is better to steam. boil or bake them. Rather steam than boil them so they retain their nutrients and do not get drained away with the water.

Below are a couple of potato recipes to try:

Idaho Potato & Mushroom Hash
from the Idaho Potato site where you will find lots of info and recipes.

3 large potatoes
4 tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 lb. Mixed wild (or domestic) mushrooms , cleaned and chopped
2 Shallots, chopped
2 Cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. Thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Bake potatoes at 400°F until tender. Let cool and scoop out jackets. Chop roughly.
Heat olive oil until smoking. Sauté mushrooms until cooked through.
Add potatoes and cook while stirring for 4-5 minutes until golden brown or crisp.
Add shallots and garlic and cook another two minutes.
Add herbs and season to taste.
Mound on plate as a side dish.

Spinach and Potato Curry
from Kate's (Vegan) Cookery Site

Recipe adapted from Sameen Rushdie's Indian Cookery. This works well with either fresh or frozen spinach. I have made it with kale as well; 10oz (275g) weighed without stalks.

Serves 3-4

1 1/2 lb (700g) potatoes
1lb (450g) fresh spinach (weighed without stalks) or frozen thawed
1 medium onion
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste, and depending on its heat!)
2 medium tomatoes

Scrub potatoes and boil them in their skins until almost, but not quite, done.
Leave to cool, then cut into small cubes.
Meanwhile, if using fresh spinach or kale, remove the coarse stalks then rinse and cook gently for 10 minutes, in just the water clinging to the leaves in a covered pan.
Cool and chop (reserve any remaining liquid). For frozen spinach, just defrost and chop.
Chop the onion finely, crush or finely chop the garlic and finely chop the tomatoes (keep them all separate). Measure the spices out into a little bowl.
Now brown the onion in a little vegetable stock or water until golden brown - about 10 minutes perhaps, topping up with hot water as necessary.
Let it stick slightly from time to time to get that fried smell. Alternatively, brown in a little sunflower oil.
Add the ginger and garlic to the pan and stir for a moment.
Add the spices, and a little more water if necessary.
Cook for a few minutes, then add the tomato. Cook gently 3-5 minutes.
Add the potatoes and spinach, mix well then cover and simmer gently until ready, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking.
It's done whenever the potatoes are cooked to your liking and the spices have permeated the vegetables.

And for those who might like to take a bash at making their own home brew I thought I would pop in this recipe :)

Potato Wine or Vodka Lite
from The Potato

Serving Size : 1 Gallon

3 pounds potatoes
4 pounds sugar
4 ounces of Chopped green or light colored raisins
2 lemons
2 oranges
1 tablespoon yeast (wine yeast works best)
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient (if unavailable use 2 more lemons)

Wash and scrub potatoes remove eyes and black spots. However, do not peel the potatoes. Grate potatoes into large pot and add 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove any scum that may be floating on top as it contains impurities you do not want in your wine. Continue to simmer until scum ceases to come up. Place the raisins and sugar into a two gallon (or bigger) container that you can put a lid on. Strain the water onto the raisins. Juice the oranges and lemons. Add yeast nutrient and enough water to make the whole amount into one gallon. Let the juice (also called must) sit for about a week. Make sure it is loosely covered so that air gets out but not in. (The fermentation will ensure that the air pressure forces the air out of the container. Siphon the must into a one gallon container with an airlock. (A balloon with a big mouth can be used in place of the airlock.) Transfer the wine into another gallon jug after about ten days to get rid of the sediment that gathers at the bottom of the jug. Let the wine sit in the second jug for about 6 months. The wine may then be bottled. Wait another 6 months to drink.

Potato wine can be used in the same way you would use vodka, only it has considerably less alcohol content.



Anonymous said...

I've always maintained that potatoes are the perfect food, not bananas. Now I have proof.

Thanks. Yum, yum.

Anonymous said...

hei there! potatoes are quite flexible in terms of preparing and cooking it.

utenzi said...

Not many nutrients in potatoes unless you eat the skin, but as you point out--as long as it's not green it is edible too. Green = chlorophyl and that's mildly poisonous.

You can boil without losing nutrients if you do it with the skin on. Just use a ricer afterwards to process potato if you don't want to eat the skin. Better yet, use red or yukon golds and eat the skin too.

Jackie said...

Thanks for your comments.