Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nutrition Myths: the Humble Potato

This week's box contains:
  • Italian Parsley
  • Chantenay Carrots
  • New Potatoes
  • Loose Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Red Beets
  • Mystery (zucchini and yellow crookneck squash)

I love potatoes despite their bad rap.  Last summer I wrote a blog entry that contains all the details; I'll repeat a few of them here:

Turns out potatoes are nutritious, sufficiently so that “Humans can subsist healthily on a diet of potatoes and milk; the latter supplies Vitamin A and Vitamin D.” [1] Potatoes are starchy, but their glycemic load is manageable, they are a good source of fiber, protein, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and a bevy of phytochemicals. The urban legend about all the nutrition being contained in the skins is not true; most nutrients are evenly distributed throughout the potato. They are easy to grow in a number of climates. Not that one would thrive on a diet of potatoes and milk alone or would choose this path, but it should be no surprise that potatoes are heros in some parts of the world.

Interestingly, potatoes -- along with tobacco, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers -- are members of the nightshade family, which can be toxic to humans. It is true that green potatoes are poisonous, though you'd have to eat quite a few to feel any ill effects. Other interesting potato facts include:
  • Potatoes are the forth largest food crop worldwide.
  • The United Nations named 2008 the “International Year of the Potato
  • The average person, again worldwide, eats 73 pounds of potatoes a year.
  • There are over 5,000 varieties of potatoes, all seeming to genetically originate from southern Peru.
Visit the following sites for more info on the mighty potato, including recipes:

"New" Baked Potatoes
An amuse-bouche

baby russet potatoes (1-2 per serving)
specialty finishing salts, such as Halen Mon Smoked Sea Salt or Cyprus Black Flake

Clean the potatoes and wrap individually with foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from foil, slice and pinch to create opening, and top with butter and finishing salt. Serve immediately.

These were very small russet potatoes; these pictures give you an idea of scale.  Given their size, this was delicate work but well worth the extra effort.

Now for the rest of the box...

No doubt the parsley will be turned into pesto.
[Herb of your Choice]-Walnut Pesto
... makes 25 - 2 tablespoon servings

3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1 bunch herb of choice, ends trimmed
1 large garlic clove, pressed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon mellow barley miso
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender, adjust salt and pepper and use or freeze.
The carrots and strawberries will be eaten out of hand.  The spinach will likely be cleaned, chopped, and folded into whatever we make this week.  The beets will be roasted and tossed with balsamic vinegar and salt.

I must admit I'm sad to see that zucchini season is already here.  These are prolific plants and we're sure to have mountains of them throughout the summer.  While I don't dislike zucchini and the related types of squash, I'm not a big fan.  I will have to spend some time digging through my cookbooks to find was to enjoy this first pile and make some plans for those ahead.  I would love to hear your ideas ~ if you've got interesting ways to use zucchini, please let us know.

[1] Wikipedia, Potato, (August 2009).

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