Everyone knows that sweet potatoes are the darling of Mississippi agriculture. And rightfully so. They are grown local, nutritious, versatile in the kitchen, and downright delicious. But, they aren’t the only potato that should get praised. The idea that sweet potatoes are superior for your health to other potatoes is one of the most arbitrary food rules considering most are virtually identical, nutritionally speaking. What’s worse is many people have removed all potatoes from their plates thanks to fad diets, misinformation, and gimmicky marketing. For the love of potatoes, it’s time to set the record straight!
Did you know that russet potatoes are lower in sugar and offer more protein, vitamin B6, iron, and slightly more potassium than sweet potatoes? On the contrary, sweet potatoes provide more fiber, vitamins A and C, and calcium per serving. Calorie and carb-wise, both sweet and russet potatoes are about equal. But the world of potatoes isn’t as simple as orange and white. There are over 200 types of potatoes that include reds, yellows, and purple varieties, along with fingerlings and petite potatoes. All potatoes provide the body and brain fuel it needs to tackle each day. The bottom line is that potatoes are nutrient-dense vegetables and can be a part of a health-promoting diet.
The best part of potatoes is they are easy to prepare and go well with most cuisines, making them a convenient addition to weeknight meals. And let’s be honest, most Mississippians like their taters deep-fried, smothered, and covered in butter, bacon, and cheese, which is the real reason they’ve never helped you reach your health goals. When you remove the high-calorie toppings and prepare potatoes with only a few healthy ingredients, you get lots of flavor and nutrients without any guilt. You can bake, roast, grill, boil, air fry, or even microwave potatoes to perfection! All you need is your spud and heat of choice, olive oil, and a little salt.
As your dietitian, I am on the team, all potatoes! You can put the unhealthy myths about potatoes to bed and put them back on your family’s weekly menu. There is plenty of room for sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, smashed potatoes, and more. Get creative in the kitchen, or give these easy and nutritious potato recipes a try. Leave the debates about potatoes to things that truly matter, like whether or not you should leave the skin on when making mashed potatoes.
Crispy Smashed Potatoes
- 1 pound small potatoes (red or yellow)
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a large baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
- Wash and clean potatoes, trimming them of any imperfections.
- In a medium pot, cover potatoes with cold water and add salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender enough to slide off a fork, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Drain and let potatoes cool for 5 minutes.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over the potatoes.
- Use a potato masher or flat-bottomed glass sprayed with cooking spray to smash each potato. Be careful not to press to hard to smush, just smash. Drizzle remaining oil over the top so potatoes are well-coated.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake until golden and crispy, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Tip: If you’re having trouble finding small/new potatoes they’re often sold in bags not as loose individual potatoes.
Broccoli and Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes
- 4 medium russet potatoes, washed well and dried
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 cup cooked broccoli, chopped
- 1.5 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Cook potatoes in the oven or microwave. Once done, set to the side to cool.
- Slice cooked potatoes in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the potato pulp and place it into a large bowl, being careful to leave the skins intact. Tip: Use a knife to score around the halved potato before using a spoon to gently scoop out.
- Rub the outsides of the potato skins with a little olive oil. Place the skins on the baking sheet and set aside.
- Add the butter to the potato pulp and mash – using an electric mixer or a potato masher – until fairly smooth; add sour cream, milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder and mash till smooth.
- Fold in cooked broccoli and 1 cup of the cheese.
- Divide the filling evenly among the potato shells then sprinkle with remaining cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are heated through. Serve at once!