Ode to potatoes

I adore potatoes. What’s not to like?

  • Delicious
  • Filling
  • Modest calories
  • Loaded with nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, fiber and iron.
  • Low sodium and low fat
  • Versatile
  • Convenient
  • Not expensive
  • Quick energy

Nevertheless people love to hate potatoes, because they allegedly raise blood sugar and make you fat. I really hate fake news about perfectly fine food, so I’m here to set the record straight about one of my favorite foods.

Potatoes make you fat?

Well only if you over eat them. Overeating plain potatoes is quite a feat. Let’s say you wanted to overeat by 300 calories. You’d have to eat 3 medium sized (2 X 5) potatoes. Pretty filling. On the other hand, you could turn one potato into 300 calories by topping it with a tablespoon of butter and a big dollop of sour cream. That would fit more easily into your stomach, but at a cost of a lot of extra fat.

It’s easy to overeat potato-based foods that are also loaded with fat. French fries, home fries, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, scalloped potatoes. Fat adds calories. Potatoes go really well with added fat. That might be the only draw-back.

Potatoes raise blood sugar?

As for the claim that potatoes are uniquely responsible for raising blood sugar, this idea is based on the so-called glycemic index. Research subjects were fed standard portions of single foods on an empty stomach; then they sat around and had their blood glucose levels tested for a few hours. Some foods, such as potatoes, raised blood glucose more than other foods. Conclusion: potatoes = bad. THIS IS NONSENSE!

Why? No one eats like that. We don’t eat one portion of a single food and then sit around in a lab. We eat mixed meals; we then go out and about, or we are busy around the home, or both. In any event, the whole premise of the glycemic index was called into question by research done a few years ago. Even the researchers who did the study were surprised at the results. So stop worrying about that.

By the way, adding fat to a potato will actually slow absorption of the carbohydrates, so blood glucose will increase more slowly. Ironic, since this means you’re eating more fat calories which actually could make you fat.

Eating Potatoes

Speaking of added fat, I’m particularly partial to home fried potato slices, sautéed in olive oil with a dash of salt. I’d be happy eating those every day. Make it a meal with an egg or a small burger. I also like to snack on 2 or 3 slices of cold cooked potato with a bit of salt. It’s a great energy-boosting snack if you’re heading out for exercise. Better than eating a cookie or chips or one of those leaden ‘energy’ bars.

Other uses:

  • You can make a whole meal out of a baked potato with grated cheese.
  • Baked stuffed potato, with cheese, herbs or finely minced vegetables like broccoli, carrots or zucchini for color.
  • Add a few cubes of cooked potato to a tossed green salad.
  • Add potato chunks to a burrito or omelet (pan fried or not)
  • Make potato egg salad.
  • Add cooked potato to soups
  • Roast small whole potatoes, or wedges of large potatoes, tossed with olive oil and perhaps garlic or herbs
  • Make a sort of potato/vegetable hash by sautéing onions, broccoli, peppers, celery and other vegetables with potato slices.
  • Potato pancakes, AKA latkes.
  • Casseroles — scalloped, galette, gratin.

Bored with russets, red potatoes and Yukon Golds? Experiment with other potato varieties — red, purple, yellow, fingerling. They all cook in the same basic way, but have slightly different flavors.