My earliest memory of the potato is from a birthday party at McDonalds- and I attended for one reason: the fries. As a kid (and still today), I kept a “modified” kosher diet. I only ate (and still eat) certified kosher meat and chicken meaning the McNuggets were out but Ronald McDonald’s fries were a GO. So when I attended a birthday party under the golden arches, it meant my mom was packing a kosher hamburger as my main dish (I really hope I thanked her), but I had my eye on the fry.
Given my warm memories of the spud, it is unfortunate that nostalgic potato has become taboo for the me and the rest of the happy meal kids of my time. The bad rep is likely due to the fast food industry, making the “potato” synonymous with “french fry” in our minds- PS they’re not the same. Studying and practicing nutrition science has enlightened my knowledge of the spud- I’ve learned the key differences between the colors and types of potatoes. I’ve also helped myself and my clients learn about the nutritional benefits of this starchy veg and how to make it fit on an acrobatic plate. Ronald’s deep fat fried potato, not balanced. On the other hand, roasted white, orange or purple, potato with skin on and all nutrients in place (ie: fiber, potassium, vitamins A and C) can be part of a balanced plate. In addition to using a healthy preparation technique (roasting or steaming and mashing), portion size is key. Make a fist with you hand- that’s what an appropriate serving size of potatoes (and other starchy foods- rice, quinoa, peas, pasta…) is for you. Or here’s another visual- swap the rice and beans on the upper left of this plate for your favorite roasted spud, sweet or otherwise. And the next time you go to a McDonald’s bday rager- remember, a fistful serving equivalent is a small order, or medium depending on how tight you are clenching that fist… Lastly, if sweet spuds are part of the plan, go for this:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
- Pour the sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet; drizzle with oil, toss, and distribute on baking sheet in one single layer
- Bake for 30 minutes; flipping potatoes half way during baking
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to season evenly
- Optional: drizzle with your favorite chili or Sriracha sauce
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