5 Ways To Get Your Thanksgiving Potato Fix But Make It Way Healthier
Mashed potatoes are a staple of the Thanksgiving table. While they're undeniably delicious, they're also filled with butter and cream and can leave you feeling less than energized and ready to enjoy quality family time.
But the humble potato isn't actually unhealthy in the first place. They contain vitamins, minerals, and resistant starch, a type of fiber that's been found to benefit gut bacteria. It's how you prepare the potatoes that matters, so, with that in mind, here are five easy ways to make your potatoes way healthier:
1. Go for smaller potatoes.
Many of the vitamins and minerals in potatoes are found in their skin, which is one of the reasons the traditional preparation of peeling and boiling them is less than ideal. The smaller your potato is, the higher your skin-to-flesh ratio is, meaning you'll be getting far more nutrients per bite. Bonus: If you buy the super-small new potatoes, you don't even have to cut them before moving onto boiling or roasting them—just give them a quick rinse, and they'll be good to go!
2. Roast your potatoes.
If you boil your potatoes, you're not doing much for the flavor, so you have to add all of that flavor back in (which is where the butter and cream find their way onto your plate). Roasting, on the other hand, makes use of the maillard reaction, a fancy word for the browning that takes place when the sugars in the vegetable caramelize and become nutty and sweet. With that delicious of a base, you barely have to add anything to create a crave-worthy side dish.
3. Use a healthy oil.
The type of oil that you reach for can help or hurt the health benefits of a dish. For potatoes, going with ghee, avocado, or extra-virgin olive oil will not only amp up the flavor but make them way more healthy.
Oils can come into play in two ways when making potatoes—if you roast them, you can toss with an oil to get a delightfully crisp exterior (all three aforementioned fats work great for this, with the ghee imparting a buttery flavor, olive oil lending grassy notes, and avocado giving the most neutral results). If you do choose to go for mashed potatoes, you can drizzle in a liquid oil (so, avocado or olive) as you're whipping them, after you've added a nondairy milk. The fat will emulsify with the liquid, making a super-creamy result—no cream necessary.
4. Add in some herbs.
Fresh herbs are a win-win. They're incredibly healthful, containing phytochemicals and sulfides that help fight cancer and inflammation, but they also add a ton of flavor to any dish.
If you're roasting your taters, toss them with fresh thyme and chopped rosemary. If you're mashing them, mix in some thyme, or sprinkle a generous amount of chives on top. The green is visually pleasing as well.
5. Go sweet.
While white potatoes are healthful, sweet potatoes benefit from the antioxidants that give them that glorious hue. That's not all: "They are rich in potassium, which helps your muscles relax. They also have magnesium, which promotes GABA secretion in the brain—a relaxation-inducing neurotransmitter," says Vincent Pedre, M.D.
You can give sweet potatoes the exact same treatment you'd give white potatoes, subbing them on a one-for-one basis in any recipe. It's also fun to use them as an excuse to play around with fun twists on classic preparations—think, for instance, of mashed sweet potatoes with buttery ghee and a sprinkle of cinnamon. There's also a keto-friendly mashed cauliflower situation that could maybe satiate your potato fix if you're on the keto diet.