Potatoes are not the bad guy. Yes, they do have a dark side, but don’t we all? The fried, mayonnaise-smothered, and buttered varieties overshadow the true benefits of the humble spud. Without these calorie-laden adornments, potatoes are wholesome, nutrient-dense sources of fuel. Entire cultures have survived largely off potatoes, and several people have even turned to an all-potato diet to sever food cravings and lose weight (though we don’t recommend that—we’re all about variety). Even elite and Olympic athletes rely on potatoes to fuel their training. Potatoes are accessible, affordable, and extremely versatile. Here is why you need more potatoes in your life.
If potatoes had a nutrition label, it would look like this: 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 18% potassium, 26 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, 45% vitamin C, 6% iron (percentages are for recommended daily values). Let’s break that down. Potatoes are often touted as being a high-calorie food. It’s simply untrue. A medium potato has the same amount of calories as a medium banana. Like bananas, potatoes are also a solid source of potassium which supports a healthy nervous system and regulates the transport of nutrients and waste through cell walls. With 26 grams of good-for-you carbs, potatoes offer a steady and filling supply of energy, and the fiber helps you stay satiated. Potatoes even have protein! In fact, if you adhered to a 2,000 calorie diet and ate nothing but potatoes, you’d still get 55 grams of protein per day. Again, we’re not promoting a mono-diet, but it just goes to show that animal foods aren’t necessary to obtain enough protein. Plants—like potatoes—have plenty.
3 New Ways to Eat Potatoes
The Western world of fast food knows how to take something healthy and transform it into junk food (French fries, tater tots, chips, etcetera), but there are ways to prepare potatoes in a healthy way outside of the somewhat monotonous baking and boiling methods. Here are three fabulous new ways to eat potatoes (and still retaining their health benefits).
1. Cheese sauce
We told you, potatoes are extremely versatile. Try LOCA queso to get your fix. Made from potatoes, spices, and a few other vegetables, this handy, jarred dairy-free queso is our go-to for tacos, burritos, and steamed or roasted vegetables.
2. Braised potatoes
If you’ve ever been to a Korean barbecue restaurant, you may have had a form of these deliciously marinated potatoes. They typically come in the form of banchan—little appetizers that compliment your meal. They’re both sweet, savory, and fairly addictive thanks to the umami blend of sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, and chilies. Try this recipe to make a side of potatoes that are way better than french fries.
3. Curried potatoes
Spice up an otherwise bland potato with a bit of curry powder and other warming spices. Aloo matar is a great place to start—it’s an Indian dish made with potatoes, peas, and a thick, spicy curry sauce. This recipe has become a weeknight staple in our home kitchen arsenal.
Potatoes and the Environment
Spuds aren’t only beneficial to the body—they’re environmentally friendly, too. While animal agriculture takes a colossal toll on our planet, potatoes are among the least resource-intensive foods out there. Potatoes produce about 0.18 kilograms of CO2 emissions per one kilogram of crops. In comparison, cow’s milk produces 0.6 kilograms of emissions per glass! In terms of water usage, potatoes only require 34 gallons of water per pound of crop. Alternatively, one gallon of cow’s milk requires 1,000 gallons of water to produce. Potatoes are also extremely resilient—both when it comes to growing and shelf-life. This aspect helps cut down on food waste. Unlike more delicate vegetables like greens and quick-to-ripen fruits, potatoes will last for weeks.
For more on the environmental demand of dairy, check out our environmental calculator tool.
Have another way to love to prep potatoes? Share it with us on socials. Tag @switch4good and @eatlocafood so we can see your nutrient-dense kitchen creations!