by Kate Heyhoe
Have you noticed how expensive vegetables have gotten? Even in California, prices for cauliflower, romaine, and cabbage rise well above what used to be my measuring stick of no more than a "buck-a-head," and every week it seems they continue to escalate, making the ability to get one's five-a-day a rather pricey dietary decision.
Yet amid the greening of the greens, one vegetable remains more than affordable: the everyday, all-purpose russet potato. No, it's not bright and colorful, so it lacks the beta-carotene of carrots and red bell peppers. But potatoes aren't exactly slackers when it comes to nutrition. In fact, the government considers them an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. (Foods that are an "excellent source" of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value.)
Did you know that one average potato (5.3 ounces) contains...
Only 100 calories
21% of the daily allowance for potassium (almost twice as much as a banana)
25 grams of carbohydrate (9% of daily value)
Dietary fiber 3 grams (12% of daily value)
Protein 4 grams
Vitamin C 45%
(more than twice as much as an onion, and three times as much as an apple)
Magnesium and phosphorus, 6% each
Vitamin B6 10%
Potatoes have even been life-savers. At the end of the 19th century, miners in the Alaskan Klondike gold rush were known to suffer and even die from scurvy, a disease caused by a deficiency in vitamin C. So potatoes, which are surprisingly packed with vitamin C and can be stored for a long time, practically became worth their weight in gold. In fact, miners were known to trade gold nuggets for potatoes.
Russets, Idaho, Russet Burbank, and baking potatoes are all the same variety. Inside their thick brown skins, the flesh is a prime pick for baking, mashing, and frying. Red and white potatoes hold their shapes better, but nothing beats a russet for the perfectly fluffy baked potato. And speaking of skins, don't peel your potato: The skin of contains the majority of the potato's fiber, and many of the nutrients are located just beneath the skin. So wash the potato thoroughly, cut away any sprouts, and cook potato with their skins on.
I'm amazed when 5-pound and even 10-pound bags of russet potatoes go on sale for as little as 99 cents, which seems to happen every few weeks. At those prices, I can't even use up a full bag before losing a few to softening and sprouting. But with such a bargain, who can complain about a few rotten spuds every few weeks? Truth is, though, that I have no problem turning the lowly russet into a meatless feast or a cozy side dish. So, with that in mind, I've assembled below a few unusual and definitely un-boring recipes to inspire you. Potatoes won't replace leafy greens for their calcium, or carrots for their beta-carotene, but for overall health and wellness, potatoes are a definite boost to the diet.
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Copyright © 2004, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created April 2004
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