Thursday, October 27, 2011

Really, are potatoes so terrible?

If you've been following the popular health news lately, you've come across a litany of articles warning us of the "danger" of the humble potato. Several advocacy groups have even gone as far as to get the USDA to consider cutting back on or completely eliminating potatoes from the school lunch. I agree the school lunch would benefit from improvements but to get rid of potatoes and keep all the other crap (chicken nugget ban, anyone?)? Sure, take away the fries, puffs, and tots but keep the whole potato please!

The well-respected (including by me, usually) Harvard School of Public Health has come out with their own version of MyPlate (coined the "Healthy Eating Plate"), where potatoes (in any form) are strongly discouraged.

In my opinion, demonizing one food (particularly a whole plant food) can lead to consumer confusion/frustration. Even though epidemiological studies have suggested that potatoes are associated with weight gain, I've yet to meet a person who lost weight by cutting out potatoes. It is only one part of the diet, and it is the diet and lifestyle overall, not the inclusion or exclusion of potatoes, that determines one's health and weight. I've personally been so annoyed by this that I've gone out of my way recently to buy (local/organic) potatoes. And fortunately, I got a couple of pounds from my CSA last week. I make them garlic mashed, roasted, and pan fried. Yum.

Here's my recipe for quick vegan mashed potatoes.

  • 2 lbs potatoes
  • 4 Tbsp trans-fat-free tub margarine like Earth Balance
  • 2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • unsweetened soy milk as needed (or other unsweetened plant milk)

Peel and chop potatoes into approximately 1-inch cubes. Boil until soft. Drain.

Return to pot and add margarine, salt, and yeast. Mash with a potato masher. Slowly add milk and keep mashing until at desired consistency. This shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes. Old-fashioned potato mashers work great, and leave in a few lumps, which adds authenticity. :-) Serve. (Note: If you're watching your fat intake, eliminate the margarine or use a teaspoon or two of olive oil instead.)


TRISTA said...

I am glad you're back to blogging, and I nominated you for a Liebster Award in today's post.

Brenda W. said...

Dina, thanks so much for this post. As someone who LOVES potatoes, and eats them on a fairly regular basis, I haven't figured out the current "potatoes-are-bad" trend that's out there, even on various vegan blogs.

One of my most recent super delicious recipe discoveries is a potato-baby peas-curry dosa I found in the cookbook "Quick Fix Vegetarian" by Robin Robertson.

Dina said...

Thanks ladies! Trista, that is so nice of you. Brenda, I agree; Robin Robertson's recipes always turn out amazing. Love her!