Potatoes are the world’s fourth largest crop, and they have been cultivated for thousands of years.
However, white potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) often get the bad rap as high-carbohydrate foods, whereas sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) instead reign as a superfood. The truth is that both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes can be extremely delicious and healthy when made the right way.
When most people think of potatoes some processed form often comes to mind like French fries, potato chips, or tater tots. Most potatoes for North Americans are destined for the deep fryer, and fast-food restaurants demand a particular potato like Russets that hold together well when submerged in piping hot oil. Spuds are also typically slathered with sour cream, butter, gravy, cheese curds, or other not-so-healthy products.
Are Regular Potatoes Healthy?
When we serve potatoes with everything but the kitchen sink, it is easy to see why these tuber vegetables get a bad name. And, although regular potatoes are high in carbs, they don’t act the same as high-carb processed foods once in the body. This is because potatoes are a resistant starch that takes time and effort to digest.
Another concern with regular potatoes is they are often high on the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL), which are used to measure how quickly and how much food converts into glucose. The problem here is that the GI and GL only tell part of the story.
You see, the GI often changes when other foods are added to the meal. In other words, we generally consume potatoes part of a meal, and not alone. Boiling and cutting potatoes also lowers GI, whereas baking and cooking them whole may result in more sugar. Potatoes also do a good job of filling us up, leaving us satiated for a long time, while giving us lots of energy.
Needless to say, eating potatoes prepared well is not the same as consuming a high-carb pizza or sandwich. The nutrient content of regular potatoes can also not be ignored. They are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, manganese, and fiber.
The phytonutrients in potatoes help keep us healthy through regulating the immune system, controlling inflammation, inhibiting tumor growth, and fighting viruses and other pathogens.
Potatoes also contain other helpful phytochemicals like polyphenols, catechin, epicatechin, and lycopene. They also contain some amounts of naturally occurring diazepam (aka Valium) and “feel good” neurotransmitter and dopamine precursor called L-tyrosine.
Potatoes are also full of another neurotransmitter and serotonin precursor known as L-tryptophan.
5 Delicious Healthy Potato Recipes
That is why not everyone has given up on white potatoes, and there are still countless healthy blogs and recipes that contain regular potatoes in a variety of shapes, sizes, flavors, and colors. In fact, some potatoes are white, while others are yellow, red, and even purple.
There are also many nutritious and delicious ways to use the potato, as a side or part of a meal. The following are five potato recipes that will have you rethink how use it.
1. Crispy Smashed Potatoes
The following recipe proves that regular potatoes can be seasoned just right, while enjoyed with a healthy sauce that isn’t ketchup. The avocado garlic aioli is great way to add healthy fats to the recipe. The potato recipe is the ultimate hearty comfort-food dish, and combines well with any main course and vegetable side.
In this recipe, it is a good idea to select organic potatoes if possible, since conventional potatoes are among the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen foods with the most amounts of pesticides. This recipe will make about three or four servings, or if you are cooking for a large group it is a good idea to double the recipe.
- 2 pounds (about 4 to 5 cups) of Yukon gold, red, or yellow potatoes
- 2 to 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Garlic powder, to taste
- 1/2 cup of freshly minced parsley leaves
For the avocado garlic aioli:
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 large avocado, halved and pitted
- 2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp of dried mustard
- 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil
- Coarse sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Put the whole potatoes, with peels left on, into a large pot, and add water to cover. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, and reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain in a colander, and let it cool for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450° Fahrenheit, and place the potatoes on a lightly greased large baking sheet. Skipping parchment paper allows the potatoes to be crispier. With a metal measuring cup or mug, press down on each potato until it is somewhat flattened.
- Drizzle each potato with one teaspoon of the oil, and sprinkle with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Roast the potatoes for 25 to 30 minutes until crispy, golden, and browned on the bottom. Keep an eye on them since cooking time will vary depending on the size of the potatoes. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with parsley, and more pepper and salt.
- For the avocado garlic aioli, add the aioli ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth.
- Serve the potatoes with the avocado garlic aioli.
2. Creamy Avocado Potato Salad
Are you used to creamy mayo-heavy potato salads that are often store-bought. When you make this creamy avocado potato salad you will never see potato salad the same ever again! Traditional potato salads often call for boiled regular potatoes; however, the crispy roasted potatoes in this recipe produce a potato salad with a mush-free texture.
It is creamy because of avocados, and besides the potatoes, it contains other various health-promoting ingredients like lemon juice, fresh dill, olive oil, and asparagus. It will serve about three as a side salad, or one or two more if it is a side on a large plate.
- 2 pounds (about 4 to 5 cups) of yellow potatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp of coarse sea salt
- 1/4 tsp of freshly ground pepper
- 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends broken off and stalks chopped into one-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup of chopped green onions
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup of avocado
- 2 tbsp of mince fresh dill
- 4 tsp of fresh lemon juice
- 1 green onion, roughly chopped
- 1/4 tsp of coarse sea salt, and more for serving
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit, and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Spread the potatoes in an even layer on one of the prepared baking sheets, and drizzle them with one and a half teaspoons of olive oil. Season with some salt and pepper. Spread the asparagus on the other baking sheet, and drizzle with rest of the olive oil, and season with the remaining pepper and salt.
- Roast the potatoes for 15 minutes, flip them, and roast for 15 to 20 minutes (until golden and fork-tender). In the last 15 minutes of roasting the potatoes, place the asparagus in the oven and roast for nine to 12 minutes, until tender. Transfer the roasted asparagus and potatoes to a large bowl, and stir in green onions.
- For the dressing, in a mini food processor, combine the dill, avocado, green onion, and lemon juice, pepper, salt, and a quarter cup of water, and process until smooth.
- Add the dressing to the bowl with the asparagus and potatoes, and stir until combined. Season with pepper and salt, and serve immediately. The potato salad is also good chilled, and will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for two days.
3. Roasted Garlic Basil Pesto Potatoes with Spinach
Roasted potatoes can definitely be more than just roasted potatoes, and this recipe is proof of that. It may have a few layers, and can take about an hour to make; however, the end product is worth it. The flavors combine for an excellent side dish that quickly feeds about four people.
I have to admit, though, when I make this for myself, there is barely leftovers. You will enjoy every bite, and it will become a regular part of your diet.
- 2 pounds of Yukon gold or red potatoes, unpeeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
- 1 tbsp, plus 1 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the roasted garlic:
- 1 large garlic head
- 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
For the pesto:
- 1 cup of lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 3 tbsp of hemp hearts
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 fresh lemon
- Coarse sea salt, to taste
- 1 tsp of ground rosemary
For the salad:
- 3 cups of baby spinach, chopped
- Fresh lemon juice, for serving
- 1 tbsp of hemp hearts, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Line an extra large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the potatoes on the baking sheet, and toss with olive oil until thoroughly coated. Spread the potatoes into an even layer, and season with a couple pinches of pepper and salt.
- For the roasted garlic, slice the top of the garlic bulb where all the individual garlic cloves are trimmed. Place the garlic bulb on a square of aluminum foil, and drizzle the top of the cloves with olive oil. Wrap the garlic bulb entirely in foil, and place it on the baking sheet with the potatoes.
- Roast the potatoes and garlic for 20 minutes, and remove the pan and flip the potatoes with a spatula. Return the potatoes and garlic to the oven, and continue roasting for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the potatoes are golden and fork-tender.
- For the pesto, combine the pesto ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth. Keep in the processor.
- Remove the potatoes and garlic from the oven. Carefully unwrap the garlic bulb, and let cool for five to 10 minutes.
- Turn off the oven, and return the potatoes to the oven with the door ajar so they stay warm.
- Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the bulb, and add it to the food processor with the pesto, and process until mostly smooth.
- To assemble, place the spinach at the bottom of a large serving bowl, add the potatoes, and toss with the pesto until fully combined. Season with salt, pepper, and some lemon juice. Sprinkle with some hemp hearts, and serve.
4. Potato Cauliflower Curry Stew
I bet you didn’t think regular potatoes could go well with a curry dish and cauliflower. Well, they do, and you won’t regret this meal in the least.
The mildly spiced, Indian-style stew recipe may make six to eight servings that everyone will surely enjoy. The potatoes also combine well with the vitamin C-rich cauliflower and other nutrient-dense vegetables like the leeks, beans, tomatoes, and cilantro.
- 2 tbsp of virgin coconut oil
- 1 tsp of garam masala
- 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp of ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp of ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
- 1 cup of chopped leek
- 3 large red or Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced (about 5 cups)
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
- 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tsp of coarse sea salt
- 1 cup of filtered water, as needed
- 1 cup of diced fresh or canned tomatoes, with juice
- 1 cup of greened beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
- Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat, and add the garam masala, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cardamom, and cook, and stir constantly, until fragrant for about a minute, and be sure not to burn the spices.
- Stir in the leek, and cook and stir for five minutes. Mix in the potatoes and cauliflower, and cook for five minutes.
- Stir in the coconut milk and salt, and add the water, and use just enough the cover the vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover and simmer, and stir occasionally until the vegetables are almost tender, for about 12 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, green beans, and cilantro. Cover and cook, and stir occasionally, until the beans are tender, for about seven minutes. Serve immediately.
5. Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie
Regular potatoes are a staple in classic shepherd’s pie, and the following shepherd’s pie has a gluten-free twist that still contains potatoes. It can also be vegan if you use vegan butter instead of ghee. Also, this recipe is quite versatile, and you could swap the mashed potatoes with cauliflower mashed potatoes for a change.
You can also drizzle homemade gluten-free gravy over this shepherd’s pie, or enjoy as is. This large, family-sized dish will make eight servings, and will keep wrapped in the refrigerator for about four to five days.
- 2 1/2 pounds of Yukon gold, red, yellow, or fingerling potatoes, peeled, and chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp of garlic powder, to taste
- 1 tsp of coarse sea salt, or to taste
- 1/4 cup of ghee or vegan butter
- 4 to 6 tbsp of unsweetened and unflavored almond milk, or as needed
For the filling:
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium leeks or 1 large sweet onion, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 16 oz of crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 pound bag of frozen mixed vegetables
- 2 tbsp of potato starch
- 1/4 cup of dry red wine
- 3/4 cup of low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 tsp of coarse sea salt, or to taste
- 2 1/2 tsp of chopped fresh rosemary leaves, or 1 tsp of dried rosemary
- 2 1/2 tsp of fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp of dried thyme, and more for garnish
- 1 can of lentils, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups of cooked lentils
- Paprika for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit, and lightly oil a 4-quart casserole dish. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain, and return to the pot. Add the minced garlic, salt, garlic powder, ghee or vegan butter, and mash until smooth. Add almond milk as needed to achieve a spreadable consistency. Set aside.
- While the potatoes are cooking, make the filling. In an extra large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, and add the leeks, garlic, and some salt. Stir to combine, and sauté until the leeks are soft, for about three to five minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, stir, and increase the heat to medium-high. Sauté until much of the liquid has been released and cooked off, for 10 to 13 minutes. This is an important step, as it ensures the filling won’t be too watery.
- Add a bag of frozen vegetables, and sauté for a few minutes, until heated through. Stir in the potato starch until combined. Add the broth and wine, and stir to combine. Simmer the mixture over medium to high heat, until it thickens slightly, and add the red pepper flakes, thyme, rosemary, salt, and lentils. Sauté for a couple more minutes.
- Spoon the filling into the prepared casserole dish, and spread it out evenly.
- Using a spoon, and spread the potatoes out over the filling in an even layer. Sprinkle some paprika and thyme leaves over top of mashed potatoes.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, then switch the oven to broil, and broil for four to seven minutes, or until there is bubbling around the edges. Watch closely to avoid burning.
Regular Potatoes Can Be Good for You!
As you can see, regular potatoes can be very versatile and used in lots of healthy ways. The potato is a regular part of my diet, and I have fun with potato recipes at least once a week. Before I let you make some of these delicious potato recipes too, I need to mention one note of caution with potatoes.
Nearly every plant contains anti-nutrients, and potatoes are no exception. Anti-nutrients can act like toxins in the body or interfere with nutrient absorption. For instance, potatoes contain proteins like lectins and patatins that are allergenic when eaten raw. Lectins can also cause intestinal damage.
Additionally, potatoes also have protease inhibitors that may interfere with protein digestion or prompt an allergic reaction. The salicylates in potatoes can also be a problem for those with salicylate intolerance.
Potatoes are also somewhat inflammatory and contain an alkaloid called solanine that can increase bowel and joint inflammation for those sensitive to it. However, these problems mostly occur in people with existing intolerances, allergies, or autoimmune disorders. If you eat potatoes and feel fine, likely you have nothing to worry about. So, continue to enjoy regular potatoes, especially with the recipes provided.
Liddon, A., The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out (Toronto: Penguin Canada Books Inc., 2014), 122-127, 167-168.
Liddon, A., Oh She Glows Every Day: Quick and Simply Satisfying Plant-Based Recipes (Toronto: Penguin Canada Books Inc., 2016), 107.
Daniluk, J., “Hot Detox: A 21-Day Anti-Inflammatory Program to Heal Your Gut and Cleanse Your Body (Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2016), 96, 118.
Dupont, C., The New Enlightened Eating: Simples Recipes for Extraordinary Living (Summertown: Books Alive, 2012), 146-147.
“What Are Potatoes Good For?” Mercola; http://foodfacts.mercola.com/potato.html, last accessed May 31, 2017.
Mateljan, G., The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the healthiest way of eating (Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007), 192-197.
Scott-Dixon, K., et al., “Sweet vs. regular potatoes,” Precision Nutrition; http://www.precisionnutrition.com/regular-vs-sweet-potatoes, last accessed May 31, 2017.