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In honour of all Irish folk this week we have an article on the staple veggie that our Irish friends can’t live without! The potato!
Potatoes have had a bad rap since the low carb diet hit mainstream. Yet the humble potato is a cheap and nutritious vegetable that deserves a mention and is great for health and wellbeing.
Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Roy Navarre has identified 60 different kinds of phytochemicals and vitamins in the skins and flesh of 100 wild and commercially grown potatoes using his newly found analytical methods. His analysis of Red and Norkotah potatoes revealed that these spuds' phenolic content rivals that of broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts, and includes flavonoids with protective activity against many diseases[i] .
Potatoes are a good source of many nutrients including B6, folic acid, quercetin, kukoamines (an antioxidant unique to potatoes), potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fibre, and pantothenic acid. Potatoes when prepared healthily (baked, steamed or sautéed but not fried) deserve a place in your diet.
There are several methods to baking a potato, but this is my favourite because the potato skin is crispy and the insides are soft and fluffy.
2-4 large unwashed potatoes (with skins on)
2-4 tablespoons of olive oil
Try to find potatoes that are similar in size for consistent baking.
Preheat your oven to 190◦C.
Scrub the potatoes under running water to remove all the dirt.
Pat the potatoes dry with a paper towel. Using a fork, carefully pierce the potatoes two to three times per side.
Brush the whole potato with olive oil. This will make the skins nice and crispy.
Sprinkle some sea salt all over the skin.
Place them directly on the middle rack of the oven.
Place a foil lined baking sheet underneath just in case anything drips off of the potatoes.
Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a fork is able to pierce the potato with little resistance.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
Run a knife lengthwise across the top, leaving about 1/2 inch on both sides.
Using both hands, pinch each side of the potato.
While pinching, push towards the centre of the potato, forcing it to open up.
Keep pushing and squeeze the fluffy insides up. It might take one or two tries, but it will look like one fancy potato once you master this technique!
Get creative and top your deliciously fluffy potato with flavours of your choice such as homemade baked beans or bolognaise sauce or sautéed mushrooms add Greek yogurt, shallots, and a sprinkling of cheese melted under the grill – yum!
[i] Phytochemical Profilers Investigate Potato Benefits" was published in the September 2007 issue of Agricultural Researchmagazine