By Fredrica Syren:
Tomorrow is Earth Day and why not celebrate this day by planting some potatoes? With a bad reputation for being high in carbohydrates, white starch, potatoes are one of the most misunderstood vegetables. I think its reputation was born from weight-conscious eaters cutting out starch as a way to lose weight. With today’s society fearing carbs, many people are skipping these wonderful little vegetables. The thing is that, to lose weight the healthy way, people need to eat food that makes them feel full longer. So, voila, I give you the humble spud.
The potato, for sure, has not been recognized for its nutritional content. A potato contains about 620 mg of potassium, which is more than a banana has. Potatoes are high in fiber but low in fat and contain nearly half the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Furthermore, it’s also a good source of vitamin B6, copper, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, and pantothenic acid. And potatoes are rich in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and many diseases. Most of its nutrients are in the skin, though, so don’t peel the skin off; instead, cook them with the skin on.
The potato skin is a concentrated source of dietary fiber, so to get the most nutritional value from this vegetable, consume both the flesh and the skin. Just scrub the potato under cold running water right before cooking, then remove any deep eyes or bruises with a paring knife. If you must peel it, do so carefully with a vegetable peeler, removing only a thin layer of the skin, therefore retaining the nutrients that lie just below.
Potatoes are available year-round, as they are harvested somewhere every month of the year. There are about 100 different varieties of potatoes, and they come in different sizes, shapes, colors and flavors.
Growing potatoes is so much fun, and they taste way better than store bought potatoes. Most people believe you need a huge space to grow them, when, as a matter of fact, potatoes grow very well in pots. This way, you can plant a few pots and not even need a garden at all. Before moving to her house, my mom would grow them on her balcony. I actually have had more luck with cultivating my potatoes in pots rather than in my vegetable garden.
To grow your own potatoes in a pot, start with some good quality organic potatoes. Leave them in a paper bag at room temperature until they sprout. You can use any potatoes but smaller ones are easier. (I planted red skin and purple potatoes this year.) When they have developed sprouts, plant one potato 3 inches deep in a large pot filled with organic soil. All you have to do then is to make sure the soil does not dry out. Large greens will emerge, and when they start looking as if they are starting to wilt or beginning to bloom, they are ready.
To harvest your potatoes, simply pull the potato greens up gently. You will see potatoes hanging in the roots, so just remove them. You will also see the potato you originally planted. Throw it away. After removing the potatoes hanging from the roots, dig through the soil because some potatoes will hide there.
Here are some of my favorite potato recipes:
(My favorite way to eat potatoes is roasted with rosemary.)
2 cups red skin potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. dry rosemary
1⁄2 Tbsp. salt
Preheat oven to F400.
Dice the potatoes with skin on. Place potatoes on baking sheet in a single layer. Pour oil and sprinkle rosemary and salt over. Use hands to toss potatoes to coat all pieces with the oil, salt and herbs. Bake for 15-25 minutes until potatoes are crisp, browned and don’t taste waxy.
• About 1 pound of sweet potatoes
• A small bunch of fresh coriander, minced
• 2 Tbsp. mango chutney
• 1 Tbsp. Bragg’s liquid aminos or tamari
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
Wash sweet potatoes and pierce them a couple of times with a fork or knife. Bake in a F400 oven for 30-45 minutes or until soft.
With a spoon, scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl with coriander, mango chutney, Bragg’s liquid aminos and oil. Using a potato masher, mash it all together.
1 cup cooked potatoes, diced
1 cup cooked sugar snap peas, diced
1 cup cream
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. ground paprika
Salt to taste
Combine cream, mustard, basil, paprika and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes. Fold in the potatoes and sugar snap beans. Serve warm along some BBQ or bean salad.