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Health & Medical

Load up on nutritious, misunderstood potato

There are times when nutrition ideas spread like wildfire. One example of this involves the potato. I often hear, “I am trying to lose weight, so I stopped eating potatoes”. It is time to peel back the truth about potatoes. If you believe that a potato is a fattening starch with no nutritional value, let me educate you.

One medium potato with the skin contains: 45 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, more potassium (620 mg) than a banana, 10 percent of the daily value for vitamin B6 and trace amounts of the nutrients thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorous and iron, with only 110 calories and absolutely no fat, sodium or cholesterol.

Potatoes are also very affordable and can be grown easily in our area. Now is the time for potato harvesting.

Don’t eat the skin? No problem! Only 20 percent of the potato’s nutrition is found in the skin, although I do encourage you to eat the skin for the fiber benefit.

Potatoes often reap a poor reputation from the high-fat toppings such as butter, cheese and sour cream, or from the cooking methods used to prepare potatoes. A healthy potato converted into french fries becomes one unhealthy saturated spud. Bake, grill or microwave your potato and top with salsa, cottage cheese or 2 percent cheese for healthy, low-fat topping options. A potato is very filling and is a healthy addition to anyone’s diet.

Now I want to brag up a different kind of spud – the sweet potato. Not only does the sweet potato contain all the nutrients of the white potato, but it is overflowing with vitamin A and beta-carotene, both of which help preserve eyesight and help prevent skin and respiratory disorders. Baking and steaming sweet potatoes are the preferred methods of cooking, as the heat releases the beta-carotene, and nutrients are not leached out into water as they are when boiled.

Multiple studies have shown that eating a small amount of fat (3 to 5 grams) in the sweet potato meal, increases absorption of the beta-carotene. Try the following: steam a cubed sweet potato for 7 minutes, poke a few holes in the sweet potato and microwave it on high for 3 to 4 minutes, or purée cooked sweet potato with banana, maple syrup and cinnamon and top with walnuts.

Twice-Baked Cheeseburger-tatoes


2 (10-ounce) russet potatoes

4 ounces raw extra-lean ground beef (4 percent fat or less)

½ cup chopped onion

1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper

3 tablespoons ketchup

2 slices 2 percent milk

American cheese

Optional toppings: mustard, chopped pickles, additional ketchup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork. Microwave for 4 minutes. Flip potatoes, and microwave for 4 more minutes, or until soft. Meanwhile, in a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray, add beef, onion, salt and pepper and cook until beef is fully cooked and onion is soft. Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice off a 2-inch-wide strip of each potato skin, lengthwise, from the top of the potato. Carefully scoop out the insides, transfer them to a medium bowl, and break up with a fork. Discard half of the potato pulp (or reserve for another use). To the remaining pulp in the bowl, add ketchup and mash thoroughly. Add beef mixture, and mix well. Place potato shells in the baking pan. Spoon potato-beef mixture into the shells. Bake for 8 minutes. Top each potato with a cheese slice. Bake until cheese has melted, about 2 minutes. Serve and enjoy. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 327 calories, 5.5 g fat, 746 mg sodium, 49 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 20.5 g protein.

PointsPlus value 8.

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