Lately I’m trying to appreciate and cultivate simple pleasures in my daily routine—little things that bring me joy (and reduce my stress levels). Things like: sitting at the table at mealtime, taking a walk with my husband after work, having baked potatoes for dinner. Baked potatoes!
The ultimate comfort food—starchy and warm and filling—baked potatoes are the perfect antidote to a chilly autumn night. It’s amazing how something so wholesome, so available and inexpensive could be so delicious too. But it’s true.
What about the carbs, you say? I say, what about them, indeed! I’ll admit, I too avoided potatoes for a long time thanks to the low-carb craze. But no more. I will have my baked spuds and eat the skin too. Here’s why: Potatoes are rich in vitamin C (good for keeping your immune system healthy), potassium (good for healthy blood pressure) and offer some fiber, especially when eaten with the skin on. And according to my trusty nutrition sources here at EatingWell, fiber may actually promote weight loss. All of that for about 44¢ per potato! Is that a bargain or what?
In fact, the problem with most baked potatoes isn’t even the potato itself, but the gobs of butter, sour cream and other unhealthy toppings people load onto it. Here are 10 healthier flavor toppings to try from the EatingWell Test Kitchen. So let’s get back to basics and all have baked spuds for dinner tonight (seated at the dinner table, of course!).
Here’s How to Bake a Potato:
Scrub 1 medium russet potato per person and pierce in several places with a fork. Place the potatoes in the microwave and cook on Medium, turning once or twice, until soft, about 20 minutes. (Or use the “potato setting” on your microwave and cook according to the manufacturer’s directions.) Alternatively, bake potatoes directly on the center rack in a 400°F oven until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Per potato, 219 calories.
10 Topping Flavors to Try:
1 tablespoon nonfat plain yogurt mixed with 2 teaspoons chopped scallions, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Feta & Olive:
1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs and 1 teaspoon chopped black olives.
1 tablespoon each prepared salsa and Monterey Jack cheese and 1 teaspoon reduced-fat sour cream.
1 tablespoon low-fat ranch dressing and 2 teaspoons chopped scallions.
1 tablespoon prepared pesto and 1 chopped small plum tomato.
1 tablespoon reduced-fat sour cream mixed with 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish.
1-1/2 teaspoon tapenade and 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or parsley
1 tablespoon pureed low-fat cottage cheese and 2 tsp. chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon refried beans, 1 tablespoon prepared tomato salsa and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon crumbled crispy bacon, 1 tablespoon shredded sharp Cheddar and 1 tablespoon sliced scallion