The Tasty Nutritious Vegetable - The Potato
These days, potatoes have a special place in kids' healthy diet. Recent studies show, “children who consume potatoes have more nutrient-dense diet, overall, and they actually eat more of other vegetables.” The potato is often referred to as a gateway vegetable. In fact, when potatoes are served, a wider variety of vegetables are consumed. Yet, some parents are still confused whether potatoes are healthy or harmful to kids.
It is recommended that children ages 2 years and older consume a healthy, balanced diet with at least 50 percent of the body fuel comes from carbohydrates, preferably complex, and one of the best sources is potato. Potatoes are part of a child’s healthy diet, providing fuel, fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Potato is a good source of vitamin C which helps strengthens the immune system, acts as an antioxidant that prevents damage from free radicals in the body that may help prevent some cancers and reduces the risk of heart disease.
The vitamin B6 in potatoes helps with the health of the nervous system. Potatoes are also an excellent source of potassium, an essential mineral that plays an important role in a healthy cardiovascular system. In addition, potato skin provides a significant amount of dietary fiber, which helps reduce the risk of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases.
It is worth to mention that potatoes often blamed for being fattening because of the heavy foods they are associated with, such as butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon and fatty oils. In fact, without the heavy toppings, a medium size potato contains only 110 calories and no fat or cholesterol and is a healthy choice in child’s diet.
Potatoes can be cooked in many ways, including baked, roast, microwave or mashed. Because no oil is used in baking a potato, it is one of the healthier cooking methods. It is especially healthy if you eat the skin, as that is where much of the fiber and many of the nutrients are contained. But potatoes are also a great way to add other vegetables into your child's meal. Kids love the taste of potato and by combining it with another vegetable, children are usually more open to trying it.
The following are some healthy and easy way to prepare potatoes and introduce other vegetables!
To keep your potatoes low in calories and healthy, try these ideas:
Serve baked potatoes with salsa or diced vegetables and sprinkle about one ounce of shredded cheese on top.
Boil potatoes with finely chopped colored vegetables and add a little olive oil for a great side dish.
Have the kids help compare a few food labels when selecting canned or packaged goods.
Add cherry tomato, cooked peas, and chopped basil to the potato salad.
Make potato casserole with your child favorite vegetables or try adding a new vegetable.
Make roasted red or purple potatoes with mushrooms and chopped spinach in the oven with a bit of olive oil and your child favorite spices.
Make cauliflower mashed potatoes. Simply mash cauliflower and potato together
Or try making pink mashed potato- simply mix in beets to the mashed potato to create a fun dish!
Toss steamed diced yellow potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots with olive oil and fresh herbs of your choice for a tasty meal
Try baked potatoes with chunks of tuna fish and steamed green beans dressed lightly with oil and vinegar
Experts agree that potatoes are part of a healthy and balanced diet and putting potatoes on kid’s plate will improve overall diet quality. Children who eat potatoes (baked, boiled and roasted) had higher intakes of potassium and vitamin C and consumed more total vegetables in a day compared to those who did not eat potatoes.
Written by Maryam Malekian
Written on Dec 11, 2011
Last updated on Oct 15, 2013