The Powerful Potato!
Potatoes have a bad reputation because of their starch content and association with fast food but potatoes are a staple in many different diets and are an important food source. Potatoes are named the world’s 4th largest crop behind rice and wheat! Potatoes are a tuber meaning they grow underground and have sprouts in more than one spot on their body. Wild potatoes are native to the Americas and were only introduced to other parts of the world about 400-500 years ago!
The English word “Potato” stems from the Spanish word “batata”. Potato plants grow to be about 12 – 18 inches in height and stem in all directions underground. They typically grow to be round or oval in shape but vary in their size. In the United States there are over 600 varieties of potatoes which separate into 7 categories. These categories include: russet, white, red, yellow, purple, fingerling and petite potatoes. With all these options it can get overwhelming, so how can you ensure to pick the best potatoes? When buying potatoes, it is best to buy them individually, so you can inspect them for damage. They should be firm to the touch and relatively smooth without any green colouring. If you want to avoid inspecting grocery store potatoes you can grow them yourself! Potatoes thrive in cooler climates so to learn more about growing your own potatoes check out this link: https://www.almanac.com/plant/potatoes
Once you have your ideal potatoes it is best to store them in a dark and dry place between 7-10ºC. These storing conditions will give you the best potato quality – if you cannot store the potatoes at this temperature just try to keep them dry and in a dark cupboard, in a paper bag if possible. If you store your potatoes properly they can last up to two months (if you can go that long without eating them!).
Now, for all you potato lovers out there, you will be delighted to learn about their nutritional components that benefit immunity, skin health, and digestion! A lot of the potatoes nutrients are held in the skin so make sure you are eating all parts of the potato to get the maximum benefits! Potatoes provide one of the best carbohydrate, potassium and energy content that help you perform at your best! They are more energy-packed than many other popular vegetables and have more potassium than a banana! Potatoes also hold adequate amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, iron, copper, we could go on and on! The only vitamins potatoes do not contain are vitamin A and D. It has been said that humans can live off just potatoes and milk and still receive all essential vitamins!
BBQing is a Canadian year-round favourite pastime and the perfect side dish is homemade baked “fries”! These fries are the best addition to homemade burgers, BBQ chicken or veggies!
First, start with cutting your potatoes length wise and soaking them in cold water – this will soak up some starch, cut down the cooking time and allow for a crisper potato! Once you have soaked your potatoes (for as long as you can) coat them in olive oil and a little sea salt. Once they are marinated, spread them out on a baking pan and bake them for 30-45 minutes depending on how crispy you like them! Then take out and serve. You can also add toppings to change the flare of the potatoes. These toppings might be rosemary and a little parmesan or sprinkled chili powder to add a little heat!
This month the Kidco Kitchen’s nutrition curriculum is focused on plump potatoes. We believe nutrition education is integral to children continuing on a path of healthy eating throughout life. Our curriculum focuses on three main areas: where food comes from, exploring foods through the senses and how food affects our bodies. By educating children on the basics of food nutrition, it empowers them to make healthy food choices beginning at a young age. Make sure you ask your kiddies weekly about what they are learning!
Many people neglect the fact that potatoes are a powerhouse vegetable (if properly prepared!). But as we have learned potatoes provide us with multiple benefits and can be prepared in a variety of ways. So, with that being said go pick some good-looking potatoes and get creative!
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @kidcochildcare and on Instagram @cheflisaruscica!
Chef Lisa Ruscica
Chief Food Ambassador