Say It with Potatoes

You don’t have to be Irish to love potatoes, so St. Patrick’s Day is a good time for Americans of any ethnic background to join in the celebration at mealtime.

Many people think potatoes are fattening, but it’s the way they are prepared that can make them high in calories. Americans eat more than 5 billion pounds of processed french fries every year and spend nearly $4 billion on potato chips. Fat- and calorie-laden butter, sour cream and cheese are common companions for baked potatoes.

There are, however, plenty of delicious, low-fat recipes for potatoes. And, if you cook them without first peeling them, you’ll retain the nutrients found close to the skin.

Instead of frying potatoes in oil, coat them lightly with oil spray and oven roast them. Add flavor with turmeric, cumin and perhaps some cayenne pepper. (If you need to watch your sodium intake, using spices nicely compensates for a lack of salt.) Or use canola oil to lightly sauté thinly-sliced potatoes with thin slices of onion and bell pepper.

When buying potatoes, always choose those that are firm, relatively smooth and with a fresh-looking color. (Potatoes with a greenish tinge have been overexposed to light and will have a bitter flavor, so any green areas should be cut away before cooking.) Avoid those with cuts, dark or soft spots, wrinkly or wilted skin, or an excessive number of eyes. Potatoes are best stored in a well-ventilated, dark, cool place (not the refrigerator). They should not be kept in plastic bags.

This country-style potato casserole is perfect for St. Patrick's Day. The hearty and super-healthy green kale makes it the right color for the day.

Potato and Kale Casserole - Makes 4 servings.

* 1 Tbsp. canola oil
* 1 Tbsp. broth or water
* 2 cups cold fat-free milk
* 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
* 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 cups cooked kale, chopped
* *1 Tbsp. chopped pecans (optional)
* 1/4 tsp. salt
* 1/4 tsp. white pepper
* 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
* 1 large cooked potato (peeled or unpeeled), thinly sliced
* 1 Tbsp. plain bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a medium-sized, shallow baking dish with cooking oil spray.

Combine oil, broth and milk in a saucepan. Mix in flour until dissolved. Over medium heat, cook, stirring, about 5 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat.

Lightly coat a skillet with cooking oil spray and heat over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté 5 minutes, then transfer into the milk mixture. Stir in kale, half the pecans (if using), salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Spread a thin layer of the mixture on the bottom of baking dish, cover with a layer of potato slices, and continue alternating layers of potatoes and kale mixture until both are used up. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs and remaining nuts (if using). Bake until heated through and top is golden, about 30 minutes.

*Frozen kale can be used. Thaw, drain and press out excess water before using.

The Author:

AICR’s Nutrition Hotline is a free service that allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. Access it online at www.aicr.org/hotline or by phone (1-800-843-8114) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. AICR is the only major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides education programs that help Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers. It has provided more than $78 million for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR’s Web address is www.aicr.org.

Article Source: AICR.org

Article Posted: March 13, 2006

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