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TIP OF THE DAY: Lower Calorie Potato Recipes

Carb watchers tend to avoid potatoes, along with rice, bread and pasta. But if you leave off the butter, cheese and sour cream, baked, roasted or steamed potatoes can fit into any eating plan.

Potatoes are a source of complex carbohydrates, which provide sustained energy and a feeling of satiety for a longer period of time.

Simple carbohydrates—in refined foods such as table sugar, white flour and white rice—lack important nutrients (unless they are “enriched”). These are the carbs to be avoided; instead, go for the nutrient-rich whole versions—honey, whole wheat flour and brown rice.

Back to potatoes: Potatoes are moderate in calories, high in fiber and rich in potassium and vitamins B6, C, and folate (B9), among others nutrients.

If you pair potatoes with healthful ingredients, you can enjoy them more often without guilt. So today‘s tip is: Investigate how to convert your favorite potato recipes into healthier versions.


Substitute flavored olive oil for butter and add fresh herbs. If you like sour cream, substitute nonfat Greek yogurt. Photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.


The healthful ingredients are a simple set:

  • Fresh herbs and spices to add flavor without calories.
  • Nonfat Greek yogurt eliminates the cholesterol of sour cream
  • Plain or infused olive oil adds just as much flavor as butter.
  • Sprinkled Parmesan cheese is a much better choice than cheese sauce.

    Baked Potatoes

  • Drizzle with infused (flavored) olive oil instead of butter.
  • Use nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • Add fresh minced herbs (basil, chives, dill, parsley) to layer more flavor.
  • Add heat: chile-infused oil, crushed red pepper or minced jalapeños.

    Lay off the butter and cheese sauce;
    instead, substitute olive oil and a
    teaspoon of grated Parmesan. Photo
    courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.


    Boiled Or Roasted Potatoes

  • Toss with olive oil and fresh herbs instead of butter. Fresh parsley is so much more exciting than the dried variety.
  • Add additional fresh herbs. We love a chive and parsley or dill and parsley blend.
  • If you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, by all means, use dried. But consider growing a couple of pots of herbs on your kitchen windowsill.
    Mashed Potatoes

  • Use infused olive oil. Basil, truffle and wasabi olive oils create heavenly mashed potatoes.
  • Pulse in a food processor or use a ricer/food mill to better meld the flavors.
    Potato Salad

  • Use a vinaigrette dressing, German-style.
  • For a creamy dressing, use a nonfat Greek yogurt-mustard blend (Dijon or grainy whole mustard)

  • Bulk up the potato salad with fresh veggies: bell pepper, broccoli florets, grape tomatoes, red onion and/or other favorites.
  • Add flavors with capers, chopped gherkins or giardinera, hard-cooked eggs, olives, even tuna.
    French Fries

    Nutritionists don’t like deep frying: The potato loses much of its nutrient value, and the cooking oil sinks into the food to add on calories. They suggest oven-baked chips and wedges instead. But if you must deep fry, use a better oil.

    Or if you’ll use it often enough, get a T-Fal Actifry. It makes fries with just one tablespoon of oil; and cooks many other foods, too.

    Deep frying requires an oil with a high smoke point. The choice includes canola, grapeseed, peanut, safflower and sunflower oils, plus the lesser-known avocado, rice bran and tea seed oils. Each type of oil has its own unique flavor characteristics, nutritional profile, and shelf life. Price is also a factor.

    But of the high smoke point oils, the healthy oils are the monounsaturated avocado oil, canola oil and peanut oil. There’s never an easy decision, of course; avocado oil is pricier, canola oil (a trademarked cultivar of rapeseed) is often made from GMO canola, and peanut oil can’t be consumed by people with peanut allergies.

    Don’t double-fry: The potatoes will absorb even more oil. Avoid saturated fats like Crisco and the darling of top chefs, duck fat. (O.K., try duck fat once, just to see how good it is.)


    Check out all the types of potatoes and the history of potatoes in our calorie-free Potato Glossary.


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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