Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wholesome Wednesdays: Potato

Not feeling overly inspired today: having ones nose totally clogged causes a serious decrease in interest in cooking or eating. That being said - potatoes are a great go to meal addition. Oven fries, baked, mashed, as a "crust" to a fresh fritatta, chopped into a curry or stir fry: potatoes add a bit of carby starchy satisfaction to otherwise light and healthy meals.

I grew up in the potato farming community of Merrill, OR - sorry, Idaho, but Merrill's got your spuds beat! No potato has tasted as delicious since supping of the 'just dug' potatoes of my mother's garden. I've tried to grow potatoes here - tried and failed. It can be done, but i don't have a ton of space or patience and prefer to grow fresh green type foods and purchase my storage foods at the market. I don't have the nice, dark, dry garage for storing foods that she does. One day... one day.

For now i just buy potatoes. I like the red ones. I like yams too - but that's a whole other story. I pretty much always get red potatoes and try to get them local or from the Klamath basin. They're good for mashers and oven fries - not as great for baked potatoes, but still tasty. I always have a few in my kitchen drawer waiting for the 'i do not feel like cooking tonight - how about some oven fries with tasty dip?' evenings. They're starchy and carb heavy, but a better alternative to a loaf of bread or pile of pasta. Let's see how they break down:


Definitely a lot of carbs - but no fat and a little protein. I say that's not so sinful! According to WHFoods, potatoes are a decent source of vitamin C and B6. Potatoes are also high in fiber, thus their filling attribute. WHFoods also highlights this important health benefit:
A new analytical method developed by 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. 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 cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems and certain cancers. Navarre's team also identified potatoes with high levels of vitamin C, folic acid, quercetin and kukoamines. These last compounds, which have blood pressure lowering potential, have only been found in one other plant, Lycium chinense (a.k.a., wolfberry/gogi berry). How much kukoamine is needed for a blood pressure lowering effect in humans must be assessed before it can be determined whether an average portion of potatoes delivers enough to impact cardiovascular health. Still, potatoes' phytochemical profiles show it's time to shed their starch-only image; spuds-baked, steamed or healthy sautéed but not fried-deserve a place in your healthy way of eating."Phytochemical Profilers Investigate Potato Benefits,"Agricultural Research, September 2007
Potatoes may also help lower blood pressure, boost your cells and brain functions with B6 and protect the heart.

Potatoes have a rather fascinating history that i've gleaned from various programs on public television. Thought of as Irish food - potatoes actually came with Columbus (or somebody) from the Americas. You can still find ancient varieties of potatoes as stables in south american diets. Isn't it amazing how a little tuber transformed the world - can you imagine a world without 'French' fries?

As a bonus info: Potatoes are members of Solanaceae (nightshade family), along with eggplants, peppers and tomatoes these plants can cause some irritation to arthritis. If allowed to flower, potatoes will put on a fruit resembling a tomato! Fascinating. Generally the tubers are harvested before this happens.

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