The humble potato is much maligned by the diet industrial complex.
I include my trainer at the gym in this category. Frankie is a body builder who lives on protein shakes, steak and a once-a-month martini. Imagine, a martini once a month….pffft!! Frankie is a great guy and I like him a lot, but we disagree mightily when it comes to food.
Potatoes are rich in vital nutrients, and they can be a valuable part of a healthy diet that embraces a variety of foods. They’re also loved by pretty much everyone, including kids. So don’t be embarrassed to serve them!
Let’s look at the facts, which I’ve set up head to head with a so called superfood, the sweet potato. Just 100 grams of each provides the following:
|Source: Wikipedia accessed on 9/13/2022|
I’ve included a photo of 4 baby potatoes on a scale to illustrate what 100 grams looks like. It’s roughly one small Yukon gold or four baby Dutch potatoes.
From the table its’s clear that potatoes provide a decent amount of fiber, protein and vitamin C, though once cooked the vitamin C largely disappears, so they’re not considered a good source since humans can’t easily digest a raw potato. Potatoes really shine as sources of B6, folate and potassium.
Vitamin B6 is essential for healthy brain development and supports the immune and nervous systems. In adults over the age of 50 the recommended daily dose is 1.5mg for women and 1.7mg for men. For people under the age of 50 it is 1.3mg. With 1.43mg per 100g, one serving of potato does the job for the day, given that the average potato is larger than 100g.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9 or folic acid, is critical for red blood cell development in all humans, particularly during gestation. Adults need 400µg per day, while those who are pregnant need 600µg to support the rapid development of the fetus.
A large russet potato is about 400g, so four servings. That means adults will meet most of their folate needs for the day with this dish because just one egg contains 22µg. Together eggs and potatoes supply the required folate.
If you are struggling to control your blood pressure, your doctor may have mentioned that dietary sources of potassium may help, and I’m here to tell you that potatoes are your friend.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that adults need 1600-2000mg of potassium for optimal health. One serving of potato with over 2000mg takes care of a whole day’s needs. Compare that to a 118g gram banana which provides just 422mg.
Protein content is pretty good for a vegetable, though not spectacular, which is why potatoes should be consumed with other things that are higher in protein. For example, 100g of pinto beans yields 21g of protein and an equal amount of albacore tuna yields about 24g of protein. An egg adds up to about 6-7 grams of protein depending on its size.
Potato, egg, tuna and green herbs shape this dish into an inexpensive and nutritious comfort dinner or lunch. It’s also very easy and worth the little bit of effort required to assemble it into something pretty.
As a side note, if you deep fry potatoes you’re probably murdering any benefits. French fries are one my favorites things, but I eat them as a special treat in restaurants that do a superior job of them. Never eat fries in a place that doesn’t take them seriously. It just isn’t worth it. At home I make fries in an air fryer with excellent results and minimal oil.
I love this recipe from the book Ottolenghi Simple, by Yotam Ottolenghi, Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth. I hope you will too.
Baked Potatoes with Egg and Tuna Sauce
- 4 russet potatoes of roughly equal size. About 3 pounds.
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for serving.
- 4 large eggs, soft boiled. Cook them in boiling water for 6 minutes, cool with cold water and peel.
- flaked sea salt.
For the Tuna Sauce
- 2 large egg yolks. Save the egg whites for breakfast.
- 3 tbsp lemon juice.
- 1 ¼ cups fresh continental parsley, chopped.
- 4¼ oz canned tuna, packed in oil or water (120g), drained. I use water packed albacore from the Pacific Northwest. Get the best quality canned tuna you can find. You may need more or less olive oil depending on whether you go with oil or water packed tuna.
- 2 tbsp small capers, drained. You can chop large ones if that's what you have.
- 2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and patted dry.
- 1 clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
- ¾ cup olive oil. (80 ml). Be gentle with your use of the oil. You may not need all of this amount.
- Preheat the oven to 450℉. (230°C).
- Put the potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the skins are crisp and the middle is soft. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the potatoes bake, make the sauce.
- Put the egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor. Add lemon juice, 1 cup of parsley, the tuna, half the capers, the anchovies and garlic. Blitz for one minute to form a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if necessary and blitzing again.
- With the machine running add the oil in a steady stream until you have something that approaches the consistency of mayonnaise. Set aside.
- When ready to serve, slice the hot potatoes down the middle being careful not cut right through, leaving the base of the skin intact. Squeeze the potatoes a little to loosen the flesh and sprinkle the insides with sea salt flakes. Spoon the sauce over the potatoes and top with an egg torn in half just before serving so that the yolk runs a little into the sauce. Top with remaining parsley and capers. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and serve right away.