Mashed potatoes is the quintessential comfort food. Perhaps it’s the ease of eating them, the way they slide down your throat with their smooth, warm goodness. Even the first part of their scientific name, Solanum tuberosum, is derived from a Latin word meaning “soothing.”
But it you want to make healthier food choices, you might think you need to give up mashed potatoes. Well, guess what? You don’t. You can even eat them regularly as long as you don’t load them with a bunch of unhealthy ingredients. But if you crave some creamy comfort, try some other mashed options, too, like turnip mash or mashed sweet potatoes. The flavor will be different, but you’ll still get that same comforting feel.
About mashed potatoes and health
A potato on its own is actually a healthy vegetable, even though it’s got a bad rap as a starchy, high-carb vegetable. Most of the problem with potatoes is the way they are made — deep fried in oil or mixed with milk and butter. When you bake, steam or saute potatoes, you’ll get the most health benefits.
Potatoes are a high-fiber food that offer protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer. They’re also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, potassium and manganese. Plus, they contain a variety of antioxidants.
Foods that are high in carbs will raise blood sugar, so it’s important for people with diabetes and blood-sugar issues to control their portion sizes and to combine starches like potatoes with a protein.
Ways to make mashed potatoes healthier
Take these steps to make better-for-you mashed spuds:
- Choose Yukon Gold, Russet or purple potatoes. Yukon Gold have a naturally buttery flavor. Russet potatoes are high in antioxidants, and purple potatoes have an even higher antioxidant content.
- Leave most or all the skin on the potatoes. The potato skin has the most fiber, and most of the nutrients lie just below the skin (so only remove a thin layer of the skin if you decide to peel them).
- Make them with non-dairy milk. Good options are unsweetened soy, almond or coconut milk.
- Make them without any milk at all. With a good blender or food processor, you can mix garlic, potatoes and a little olive oil without any milk and still have a creamy mash.
- Add garlic for flavor and health. You can wrap garlic in foil and roast it at 400 degrees for 45 minutes and then squeeze the cloves into the mashed potatoes. It’s also a good idea to add a little raw garlic as well.
- Use olive oil (mixed in after cooking and mashing) instead of butter or vegan butter.
- Add parsnips in place of some or all of the butter and oil. Parsnips are creamy and buttery without the added calories and fat.
- Add a little turmeric when cooking. This is especially good when combined with coconut milk.
- Add a little coconut oil. Coconut oil is amazingly good for you. Read why.
- Add wasabi for flavor and health.
- Add some veggies in with your mashed potatoes. Maybe some kale, mushrooms, onions or Bell peppers.
- Add some herbs while cooking. Some good ones to add are basil, oregano or rosemary.
- Add flavor with garnishes added before serving. Good options are chives, parsley, thyme or green onions. When you add herbs, you can use less or no salt.
- Eat them with a balanced meal. Pair them with a protein and veggies.
Healthy mashed potato alternatives
- Mashed cauliflower. Cauliflower helps detox the body and are high in fiber. It also has anti-cancer benefits.
- Mashed turnips. Turnips don’t need butter or oil to make them creamy and yummy. They also contain fewer calories.
- Mashed sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes have antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients and blood sugar-regulating benefits.
- Mashed celery root. Celery has a chemical that helps fight body fat.
- Mashed broccoli. Broccoli has antioxidants, enhances detoxification, prevents cancer and contributes to eye health.
- Mashed carrots. Carrots are high in antioxidants, particularly beta-carotene. The help keep your eyes healthy and have anti-cancer benefits.
- Mashed eggplant. Eggplant is good for your brain and rich in antioxidants.
- Combo of mashed rutabaga, parsnip and celery root.
Image Source: Caulimash