While the potato is widely associated with Ireland and is a traditional St. Patrick's Day food, would you believe that potatoes are actually native to the coast of South America? Celebrate the 10,000 varieties of the potato and learn why, when eaten in moderation and prepared in heart-healthy ways, "spuds" can be delicious and nutritious.
The nutritional potato
There should be a place for the misunderstood potato in any well-balanced diet. It's true that white potatoes have a high glycemic index, which can raise blood sugar levels that might lead to diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity for some people. The secret is balance and moderation in order to gain the following nutritional benefits:
- Vitamins and minerals - Low in saturated fat, white potatoes are rich in immunity-building vitamin C, B6 and beta carotene, and blood pressure-lowering potassium and manganese.
- Fiber - When you eat the skins, you add more fiber to your diet, along with other B vitamins, iron and calcium.
- Phytochemicals - It's believed that potatoes and other vegetables that contain phytochemicals help protect your body from diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Say no to the fryer
The mild-mannered white potato can be prepared in yummy ways other than deep-frying or smothering with butter and cheese.
- Baked fries deliver the same crunch as deep-fried, but without unhealthy saturated fat when you spray with canola oil or olive oil.
- Experiment with seasonings beyond salt and pepper. Along with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs such as parsley, chives, sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, coriander and tarragon.
- If you love spice, sprinkle potatoes with red pepper or green tamales, or make a salsa from tomatoes, onions, parsley and your preferred seasonings.
Yummy St. Patrick's Day recipe
Celebrate the potato on Patty's Day by trying the following Irish-style recipe:
Easy traditional red potato colcannon
Ingredients (yields four 1-cup servings):
- 1 pound red potatoes washed and cut into halves
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow or white onion
- 6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
- 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, preferably white
Pour an inch of water into a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Put the potato halves in a covered steamer basket over the water and cook about 15 minutes or until done. Move to a large bowl and keep warm.
Using a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion cooking about two minutes until translucent. Add the cabbage and stir occasionally until the cabbage turns lightly brown for approximately five minutes.
Lower the heat and stir in milk and seasonings. Cover and cook mixture for about eight minutes until the cabbage is fork tender. Combine the potatoes with the cabbage mixture and mash together by hand to your preferred consistency.
This St. Patrick's Day wear a little green, look for that pot of gold, and celebrate the potato by trying an Irish dish to create a new holiday tradition for your family.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado