Potatoes are nutrient-dense.  One large baking potato (3-4”) with skin contains 278 calories, but no fat or cholesterol and only 21 mg of sodium.  With the exception of vitamin A, white potatoes have just about every nutrient.  Unfortunately, most of their abundant vitamin C is lost during cooking.  Potatoes are very high in potassium and are a good source of iron and copper.  The fiber in potatoes is half soluble, half insoluble, so it helps to keep you regular, lower your cholesterol, and keep you full longer. In fact, a potato a day is good for your heart, promoting normal blood-pressure levels.

Potatoes’ bad rap comes from the preparation methods and toppings we use.  Bake or boil rather than fry, and pay attention to the nutritional value of toppings and condiments.  Cut out the butter, full-fat sour cream or cheese, and bacon.  Substitute the healthier toppings described on the other side of this sheet.  Baked, roasted, and even mashed potatoes can be prepared in healthier ways.

“Baked” Potatoes in the Microwave

There’s no faster way to “bake” a few potatoes in their skins than by microwaving them (4 to 12 minutes depending on your microwave, and the number and size of potatoes).  Microwaving produces a softer skin than oven baking, so if you like a browner crisper skin, finish by putting the microwaved potato in a pre-heated  (375 degree) oven or toaster oven for a few minutes.  Whether oven baking or microwave “baking”, don’t forget to puncture the potato with a fork or knife before you start, or it might explode.

Roasted potatoes

Preheat over to 400 degrees F.  Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut one pound of large red or white potatoes with skins into ¼ inch thick    wedges.  Soak the wedges in ice water for 5 minutes.  Drain, and rinse     them under cold water and press between paper towels to dry.  Transfer        to a large bowl.

Pour 1 Tablespoon olive oil over them and toss to coat.  Arrange in single layer on baking sheet.  Bake for 15 mins, turn and bake another 5 mins.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon rosemary or oregano over potatoes, return to oven      and bake till brown and crispy, about 5 mins.  Serve immediately. 


Healthy Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds baking potatoes, (about 8 potatoes), peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks, boiled.

1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, heated

2 Tablespoons low-fat or no-fat sour cream

Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Mash potatoes, adding enough hot broth to make a smooth puree. Stir in sour cream and season with pepper (and salt if desired).


Healthy Toppings for Potatoes

Cottage cheese works well on top of potatoes because it adds not only the creamy, cheesy flavor, but it also adds enough salty taste that no additional salt is necessary.  It is a great source of protein and is low in both fat and carbohydrates.  Try adding fresh or canned pineapple, fresh dill, sliced green onions or chives, or chopped olives, feta cheese and tomatoes.

Fresh or canned tomato can be used to top potatoes.  While fresh tomatoes are the healthiest option, purchasing a low-sodium can of tomatoes is a perfectly acceptable choice.  Canned diced tomatoes frequently come with chilies and onions, both of which can tame the need for adding salt.  If regular tomatoes are too plain for you, store-bought salsa can be a reasonably healthy alternative.  Stay away from salsa and cheese mixes, which are usually very high in fat and calories.

Tuna and Corn  Mix canned tuna with sweet corn or corn niblets.  Add low-fat mayonnaise and top the potatoes.

Sautéed mushrooms and onions:  Sauté 1 cup of mushrooms and 1 cup of chopped onions in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil for 2 minutes, and spoon on top of the baked potato (or on mashed potatoes as a healthy alternative to gravy).


Or try your own combinations.  What about leftover vegetables, fish, or meat; low-fat yogurt; grated low-fat cheese; garlic; herbs (parsley, thyme, sage); nuts or seeds; kidney beans; ratatouille; or hard-boiled or scrambled egg?  One source (www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/baked-potato-recipes) suggests combining canned tuna, yogurt, artichoke hearts, provolone cheese and basil as a topping.  See how creative you can be.

A potato with the right toppings makes a healthy complete meal.