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Eating Well With Whole Foods: Potatoes

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

Potatoes belong to the Solanaceae or nightshade family whose members also include tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. The starchy vegetable has a deep history, going back thousands of years. Having originated in the Andean mountain region of South America, potatoes became a staple food of the Indians living there because they could be grown at high altitudes. Spanish explorers eventually brought potatoes back from South America to Europe, and soon began using the Vitamin C rich spuds to prevent scurvy on their ships. Initially, potatoes were not popular in Europe – they were believed to be poisonous and cause leprosy. Potatoes were popularized in part by an 18th century Frenchman who concocted up the idea of the mashed potato to disguise this once suspicious vegetable. Today, the potato is the number one vegetable crop in the world. Its main producers include Poland, India, China, and the United States.

Many people erroneously view potatoes as unhealthy because they are often eaten in the form of greasy french fries or topped with heaps of bad fats such as margarine, and bacon bits. However, in their natural state, potatoes are loaded with nutrients and antioxidant compounds. In fact, a single baked potato provides about 12% of the daily-recommended allowance for fiber. Just remember to eat the skins to reap fiber’s cholesterol-lowering and colon cancer preventing effects. Potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber. Due to the phytochemicals contained in the skins, potatoes may protect against additional forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory problems. They may also lower blood pressure and help with nervous energy. Potatoes’ vitamin B6 aids in managing stress, promoting a good night’s sleep, and protecting against depression.

When purchasing potatoes, opt for loose ones, rather than those already packaged in plastic bags, so you can closely inspect them. Select firm, smooth potatoes that are free of decay. Avoid ones that are sprouting or contain green discoloration. Keep away from sun exposure, which causes toxins to form. Instead, store potatoes in a burlap or paper bag in a dark, dry place in order to prevent sprouting and dehydrating. Do not store in the refrigerator, which will alter their taste by turning the starch into sugar. Scrub potatoes under cold water before cooking and cut out any deep bruises. Whether baked, mashed, sautéed, or boiled, potatoes are a healthy, fiber-rich addition to any meal. Try topping them with steamed broccoli, organic butter, or a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt.

Roasted Rosemary-Garlic Potatoes

Serves: 4

7-8 potatoes, medium sized, sliced into ½ inch thick wedges

(Select your favorite type of potatoes. Yukon Gold potatoes is a good choice.)

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Dash of sea salt and fresh pepper

Preheat oven to 365 degrees F. Mix the olive oil, spices, salt and pepper together. Use your hands to thoroughly coat the potatoes with the oil mixture. Place potatoes onto a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 45- 50 minutes. Flip over potatoes over in about 20-25 minutes. Roast until golden brown.

Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com, or you can email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com , or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.


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