Kids love potatoes. Adults love potatoes. And the holidays are filled with them. This year, enjoy these tuberous roots in a healthier way.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams are three different ways to take in complex carbohydrates, each with a unique flavor and nutritional benefits. Make them a moderate portion of your diet by preparing them healthfully, and you may even see kids choosing a baked potato over fries!
All three types of potatoes are packed with dietary fiber, nutrients, and complex carbohydrates. NOTE: If you’re allergic to nightshades, limit your use of white potatoes, along with eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.
What’s the difference?
Common potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams are all members of distinct plant families, unrelated to one another. The only thing these three have in common is their growing habit: All are edible tuberous roots supported by above-ground flowering plants.
Common potatoes come in about 100 varieties!
Idaho, russet or baking potatoes
• Fluffy texture when cooked
• Commonly boiled and mashed, baked, or used for chips and French fries
Red, redskin or new potatoes
• Less starchy than russets, with a smooth, creamy texture when cooked
• Have a slightly sweet taste
• Commonly boiled or roasted
Yukon Gold or yellow potatoes
• Waxier texture that retain the shape well when cooked
• Excellent choice for potato salad
Blue or purple potatoes
• Attractive and delicious
• Similar texture to a red potato, with a similar sweet taste
• Blue color signals that they’re high in antioxidant flavonoids
• Cook quickly and are ideal for roasting
• Small, thumb-shaped varieties in a range of colors
• Waxy texture and firmness makes them excellent for potato salad or for roasting
Sweet potatoes are botanically different from common potatoes and yams!
• Originally cultivated in Central America
• Color ranges from pale or deep orange to purple
• Popular for their sweet taste
• Packed with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant, and vitamins A and C
• Lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes, which means they
don’t spike blood sugar levels as much as regular potatoes
• 5 oz has 100 calories
I yam what I yam – not a sweet potato!
• A native of Africa and Asia, and longtime staple in both
• Bright orange yams are higher in calories, higher in vitamin C and
lower in vitamin A and beta-carotene than sweet potatoes
• Most “yams” sold in the U.S. are actually sweet potatoes
• Yams have a rough, scaly skin while sweet potatoes have a smooth, thin skin
• Be aware of portion sizes
• Look for smaller baking potatoes, about 2.5 inches in diameter or about the
size of your clenched fist
• Cut large baking potatoes in quarters after baking
• A small russet potato (about ¼ pound) has 128 calories
• Watch the salt
• Use as little salt as possible to maximize the full creamy flavor of all potato varieties
• Don’t skip the skin
• Potato skins are loaded with dietary fiber
• Roasted, grilled or steamed potatoes should be left unpeeled
• Peel sweet potatoes or yams with tough, fibrous skins
• Low cal add-ons
• Use nonfat plain Greek yogurt, fresh salsa or tomato sauce instead of butter
• Mix equal parts of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and low-fat mayonnaise in place of
full-fat mayo in potato salads
• Bake or roast for full flavor
• Baking enhances the fluffiness of russet potatoes
• Roasting or grilling helps caramelize the natural sugars in blue or sweet potatoes
• Store them safely
• Place unwashed potatoes in a paper or cloth bag in a cool, well-ventilated
place for up to 2 months
• Keep them separate from onions as both give off a gas that can hasten decay
• Puree until smooth
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