As of late, I’ve had quite a thing for potatoes. I’ve baked them, roasted them, Hasselbacked them, mashed them. And, I’ve eaten them. Lots of them.
There may be some of you who are of the opinion that potatoes are “bad.” They are not bad. (Technically speaking, there are no “bad” foods, which is an entire topic for another blog post on another Thursday.) Potatoes and sweet potatoes are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and starch.
The starch and fiber in potatoes does not digest, but instead ferments in the gut to become short-chain fatty acids. Enough technical stuff for one day. Why is this important?
Here’s why. Short-chain fatty acids may:
- Keep you fuller longer
- Act as fuel for healthy gut bacteria (this is good for your immune system)
- Inhibit growth of harmful bacteria
- Stimulate blood flow to the colon
- Increase mineral absorption and nutrient circulation
- Prevent absorption of toxins
- Decrease inflammation
- Decrease risk of colon cancer
That’s a lot of good stuff. Potatoes do not deserve to be looked down upon. What we need to look at is what we are putting ON the potato—and how much we are actually eating.
Seasoning them with olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper, are great choices. Loading them with butter, sour cream, bacon, and cheese, on a regular basis, is not the best option when you have health and fitness goals to keep.
The amount? Eat one to two cupped handfuls of carbohydrate-rich foods at each meal. This can be potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, lentils, or fruit. Scale this amount up or down depending on body size, activity level, fitness goals (fat loss, mass gain, or athletic performance).
Potatoes and sweet potatoes, when incorporated into a balanced diet, are satisfying and provide energy. I’ve recently been enjoying them made this way. Here’s the recipe. Hope you like it!
Carol’s Healthier Hasselback Potatoes
4 large Russet, Idaho, or Yukon Gold potatoes
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or melted butter or equal parts of each)
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Leave potato skins on, or peel, your choice. Place the potato in a large wooden or metal spoon, and using a sharp knife, make slices across the potato the short way, about an 1/8th inch apart. Gently cut down to the lip of the spoon, not all the way through the potato. The slices should stay connected at the bottom, and the spoon helps keep the depth even.
Slice all the potatoes in this manner and place them cut side up in a lightly oiled shallow baking dish or stone. Brush potatoes with half the oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika, or your favorite seasonings.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and brush the remaining oil on the potatoes and season with a little more salt, pepper, and paprika. Return to the oven and bake another 20 minutes, or until they are nicely browned.
“What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”