At the height of our quarantine cooking, it seemed we couldn't get enough carbs, from banana bread to sourdough to anything and everything with potatoes. During the midst of the shelter-at-home days, potato sales rose about 50 percent, according to Nielsen data conducted at that time.
Healthy carbs, like potatoes and sourdough, and even some banana bread recipes, get a bad rap, and as a dietitian, nothing irks me more. We've all heard of the weight-loss diets, and maybe even tried a few — such as paleo, keto and Whole 30 — that shun white potatoes, citing poor nutritional value, high glycemic index and so on. (It's worth noting Whole 30 added white potatoes to their "allowed" list in 2017, admitting the original omission was based on arbitrary rules on their part.)
First, white potatoes and all whole potatoes — red, yellow, purple, etc. — are nutrient-packed. A medium baked potato has just 160 calories yet meets 25 percent of your daily vitamin C needs, 20 percent of your daily value (DV) for potassium, 10 percent DV phosphorus, 11 percent DV magnesium, 24 percent DV copper and 14 percent DV manganese, according to the USDA.
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And when it comes to the glycemic index, the science on that is muddy and impractical. In fact, a majority of nutrition professionals — 73 percent — don't use glycemic index when working with patients and clients, according to a recent survey from Today's Dietitian.
What matters most is what you do with your spuds. So here are 11 recipes to help you use up those potatoes, all under 300 calories per serving.
1. Personal-Size Overnight Hash Browns
What's not to love about these personal-size hash browns? You'll be a fan of the convenience, along with the delicious filling. As a dietitian, I can get behind the nutritious pairing of eggs and colorful baby potatoes, and most importantly when it comes to weight management, the built-in portion control.
We know portion size has gotten out of whack, especially when eating out. And when you're consistently given more food, i.e. larger portions, you tend to eat more, according to the Mayo Clinic. That's why keeping portion control in mind, or building it in as with this personal-size hash browns recipe, is key when you're trying to lose weight.
Get the Personal-Size Overnight Hash Browns recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Rosemary Pizza Patate
Potato pizza? Trust us. Even without sauce or cheese, this dish delivers on taste and nutrition. The rosemary, onion and potato combo make this a culinary delight. The whole-wheat pastry flour and whole-wheat pizza dough give this dish street cred with nutritionists. In fact, the recipe hails from dietitian chef Jackie Newgent, RDN.
By now we're likely all on board with the fact that whole grains are nutritionally superior to refined grains, but research explains one reason why they may also be beneficial for your weight: A March 2017 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating whole grains compared to refined led to fewer calories being retained during digestion and a metabolism increase.
Get the Rosemary Pizza Patate recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Asiago Roasted Potato Wedges With Sour Cream and Chives
Nutritionally speaking, there's nothing redeeming about fast-food french fries. A medium serving has about 375 calories, 18 grams of fat, 220 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of fiber, according to the USDA. And let's be real: If you're headed to the drive-through, you're probably not ordering just fries.
Enter the Asiago Roasted Potato Wedges — a healthier option that's still incredibly tasty. Each serving has just 224 calories (and you're likely not pairing these with a burger and soda), 16 grams of fat, 606 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.
Get the Asiago Roasted Potato Wedges With Sour Cream and Chives recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Roasted Potato Salad With Kale and Grainy Mustard
This potato salad recipe makeover is a winner. A serving of your typical, mayo-based potato salad has 358 calories and 20 grams of fat, according to the USDA. This dish not only reduces the number of calories by 60 percent, but it also manages to bump up the nutritional offerings by adding in lacinato kale.
Many avoid carbs, including the beloved potato, when trying to lose weight, but an October 2014 study in the American College of Nutrition adds to the evidence of why this thinking is misguided. The randomized clinical trial found that potato consumption had no effect on weight gain; in fact, following the calorie-restricted diet for 12 weeks — potatoes included — resulted in modest weight loss.
Get the Roasted Potato Salad With Kale and Grainy Mustard recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Purple Potato and Poultry Chorizo Tacos
Potatoes plus chorizo plus tacos. What more can be said? How about, aside from tasting delicious, they're good for you, too? Each taco is under 150 calories, which means a healthy portion is about two to three tacos.
Also, the purple in the potatoes comes from plant compounds called anthocyanins, according to a June 2015 study in Food Science and Technology. These compounds have antioxidant properties, which can help support heart health, as explained by a June 2018 paper in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition.
Get the Purple Potato and Poultry Chorizo Tacos recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Tri-Color Potato Skewers and Dip
Have trouble getting your kids to eat their veggies? Put them on a stick and add a dip. Making foods fun and appealing, with tactics like skewering potatoes and adding a healthy dip, can help your kids want to eat more vegetables, according to the USDA.
This is key because 93 percent of children don't get enough veggies on a daily basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But considering vegetables are filled with the nutrients and fiber kids need to help reduce their risk of developing chronic health conditions in the long run, you don't want them to skimp.
Get the Tri-Color Potato Skewers and Dip recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Protein-Packed Cajun Hash Brown
This vegan breakfast provides a healthy balance of macros, sure to keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day. Each serving is about 40 percent carbs, 40 percent fat and 20 percent protein.
Traditional breakfast foods like plain oats, cereal and toast are carb-based and fall short in the protein category. This is why protein intake is typically skewed toward later in the day, as in lunch and dinner, according to a January 2014 paper in the Journal of Nutrition.
Incorporating protein into your breakfast, as with the 12 grams provided with this dish, is important for helping to build lean muscle, which plays an important role in maintaining your metabolism and, ultimately, supporting your weight-management goals.
Get the Protein-Packed Cajun Hash Brown recipe and nutrition info here.
8. Vegetarian Crispy Tacos
If vegetarians felt like they were missing out on the potato-taco magic (see recipe #5 above), fear not — we've got you covered. This meat-free option uses beans instead. Paired with the cheese and Greek yogurt, each taco provides 8 grams of protein.
Getting enough protein while trying to lose weight is important because it helps to maintain muscle mass. It's also the most satiating nutrient and actually has a higher thermic effect of food (that is, the amount of energy your body uses to digest, absorb and dispose of food) compared to carbs and fat, according to a comprehensive June 2015 paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Get the Vegetarian Crispy Tacos recipe and nutrition info here.
9. Potato Salad With Parsnips and Edamame
If you couldn't get on board with the first potato salad recipe (see recipe #4) because of the lack of creaminess, look no further. By reducing the mayo and adding Greek yogurt in its place, you're cutting out fat, yes, but you're still keeping the creamy goodness we know and love about potato salad, while also increasing the protein content.
This recipe is much lower in calories compared to traditional potato salad. Each serving has less than 140 calories compared to the more than 350 calories provided in a serving of homestyle potato salad, according to the USDA.
Get the Potato Salad With Parsnips and Edamame recipe and nutrition info here.
10. Roasted Sunchoke Soup
Creamy soups typically mean, well, that cream has been added, and we know that equates to more saturated fat and calories. The trick with this recipe is achieving creaminess by including potatoes and making it a blended soup.
Blended soups may have the upper hand when it comes to weight loss. An October 2012 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared a solid meal versus a chunky soup versus a blended soup like this one and found that thicker blended soups took longer to digest and provided the greatest feelings of fullness.
Get the Roasted Sunchoke Soup recipe and nutrition info here.
11. Baked Salt-and-Vinegar Chips
We can't forget potato chips! Yes, your beloved salty snack can be healthy if you bake the chips instead of frying them and cut out the oil altogether. Vinegar helps to saturate the chips, so you won't miss the oil, while also adding to the flavor and saltiness.
Each serving has just 121 calories, 26 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein — and no fat. A typical serving of chips provides 25 percent more calories (157 calories), 10 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbohydrates, just 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein, according to the USDA.
Get the Baked Salt-and-Vinegar Chips recipe and nutrition info here.
Concerned About COVID-19?
Read more stories to help you navigate the novel coronavirus pandemic:
- Shelby Report: "Nielsen Examines CPG Dollar Sales Data During Covid-19 Pandemic"
- Whole30: "It Starts With Food"
- USDA: "Baked Potatoes"
- Today's Dietitian: "White Papers: Survey Results Are In: An Overwhelming Majority of Nutrition Professionals Don’t Use the Glycemic Index"
- Mayo Clinic: "Portion Control"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Substituting Whole Grains for Refined Grains in a 6-wk Randomized Trial Favorably Affects Energy-Balance Metrics in Healthy Men and Postmenopausal Women"
- USDA: "McDonalds French Fries"
- USDA: "Potato Salad Home-Prepared"
- American College of Nutrition: "Potatoes, Glycemic Index, and Weight Loss in Free-Living Individuals: Practical Implications"
- Food Science and Technology: "Antioxidant Activity and Quality of Red and Purple Flesh Potato Chips"
- Plant Foods for Human Nutrition: "Antioxidant Rich Potato Improves Arterial Stiffness in Healthy Adults"
- USDA Choose My Plate: "Tips: Vary Your Veggies"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Children Eating More Fruit, But Fruit and Vegetable Intake Still Too Low"
- Journal of Nutrition: "Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance"
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Soups Increase Satiety Through Delayed Gastric Emptying Yet Increased Glycaemic Response"
- USDA: "Snacks Potato Chips Lightly Salted"