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From blues and reds to whites and yellows, we’ve got the lowdown on potatoes.
Article By: Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein
Skinny on Potatoes

Potatoes are a year-round staple, whether you enjoy them in a cold salad at a summer potluck, mashed or roasted at the holidays, or as part of a traditional Irish meal around St. Patrick’s Day.

And that’s just because they taste good. Now consider their excellent nutritional profile: potatoes are fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free. A medium-size potato (5.3 ounces, about the size of a computer mouse) has half your day’s vitamin C requirement. Contrary to popular myth, most of the potato’s vitamins and minerals are not found in the skin. Instead, they cluster in a layer a little less than an inch under the skin. Therefore, removing the skin will not affect the spud’s nutrition. But don’t reach for the vegetable peeler just yet: If eaten with its skin, a potato has more potassium than a banana and is one of the best fiber options in the produce section.

Basic varieties
There are five basic types: yellow-fleshed, red-skinned, white, blue and Russet. They are categorized by color and by starch: less starch yields a firmer potato. The following chart outlines the differences between each variety.

The Potato Rainbow
Yellow-fleshed
These dense, creamy potatoes, typified by the Yukon Gold variety, are moderately starchy, and so make excellent mashed potatoes and au gratins. They are flavorful, slightly sweet and perfect for steaming, boiling, stir-frying and pan-frying (as in hashed browns or hash).
Red-skinned
Often called “new potatoes,” these spuds have a vibrant red skin — and some, a mottled red skin. They have a mild, earthy taste and are the least starchy of any variety, so they’re best roasted with olive oil and herbs. Because they hold up well, they’re also great in potato salads.
White potatoes
Perhaps the most versatile potato, these are available in round little balls or long fingerlings (not named for fingers but for little German fish). They should not be confused with larger Russets; white potatoes, like Irish creamers, are always small with a creamy white or pale beige skin. Use them for salads, mashed potatoes, oven fries and any dish that requires boiled or steamed potatoes.
Blue potatoes
Closely related to the original potatoes from South America, blues are actually available in a range of colors: blue, violet, purple or lavender. These fairly starchy potatoes have a nutty, earthy taste. They are good roasted or mixed into doughs (bread, muffin or even tamale).
Russets
Sometimes called Idaho or baking potatoes, Russets are the starchiest (and thus the fluffiest) potatoes and have thick, netted-brown skins. They make fluffy mashed potatoes and classic baked potatoes as well as great French fries. Their skin is so thick and chewy that these are the only potatoes that can be turned into potato skins. Because of their dry, starchy texture, they are also the only potatoes that can create gnocchi or potato noodles.

Best-ever mashed potatoes
Here’s a shock: the microwave actually makes the best mashed potatoes.

1. Wash (but do not dry) 4 or 5 medium Russet or yellow-fleshed potatoes. Do not prick or peel them. Place them in a large, microwave-safe bowl with a lid that has an open vent hole — or cover the microwave-safe bowl with plastic wrap and then poke a small hole in the wrap.

2. Microwave on high for 8 minutes (total) without disturbing.

3. Remove from microwave — be careful of hot steam — take off the lid or plastic wrap, and mash with an electric mixer at medium speed or a hand-held potato masher adding some skim milk, fat-free chicken or vegetable broth, a little butter or olive oil and/or some Dijon mustard and herbs.

 

  © 2012 Weight Watchers International, Inc. © 2012 WeightWatchers.com, Inc. All rights reserved.
WEIGHT WATCHERS and PointsPlus® are the registered trademarks of Weight Watchers International, Inc. and are used under license by WeightWatchers.com, Inc.
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By Elizabeth Nolan Brown, for Blisstree.com

Omnivores, take note: Embracing a vegetarian diet could make you happier and less stressed, according to new research published in Nutrition Journal.

The reason comes down to fatty acids: Diets that include meat and fish are higher in arachidonic acid (AA), an animal source of omega-6 fatty acids. Much of the meat Americans eat today is quite high in AA: The average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid profile of modern grain-fed meat is 5 times higher than grass-fed meat, like our ancestors ate. And previous research has shown high levels of AA can cause mood-disturbing brain changes.

High-fish diets also mean higher levels of long-chain, or omega-3 fatty acids, like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both EPA and DHA combat the negative effects of AA. High dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to better brain health, better mood and a host of other health benefits. Most health experts recommend an omega-6/omega-3 ratio of about 4:1.

In theory, then, frequent fish eaters should have be protected against the damaging effects of AA because of their higher intake of omega-3 acids. But an earlier study found omnivores reported significantly worse moods than vegetarians, despite higher intakes of EPA and DHA.

In this follow-up study, 39 meat-eating participants were assigned to one of three diets. A control group ate meat, fish or poultry daily; a second group ate fish 3-4 times weekly but no meat; and a third group ate strictly vegetarian. After two weeks, mood scores were unchanged for the fish- and meat-eating groups, but vegetarians reported significantly better moods and less stress.

Source: Huffpost Healthy Living

by Anne Englebert on March 5, 2012

Eating organic has lots of benefits compared to conventional food; it is healthier for you and better for the environment. However, the price for enjoying the freshness and goodness of organic vegetables and fruits can often be quite expensive if you don’t know the right way or places to buy them on the cheap. Here are five green tips that will help you to eat organic and local without breaking your food budget:

1-  Shop at Local Farmers’ Markets: The farmer’s market is a great source of local and fresh organic produce at great prices. Similarly eating local straight from the farmer will reduce your carbon footprint as these products do not travel from all over the world to end up on your plate. The farmers present on local farmers’ markets come only from a maximum distance of 100-miles.  Moreover, eating organic food from local farms is also a way to support the local economy of your community as the large majority of organic farms are small farms. You can easily find local Farmers Markets nearby by simply typing the name of your city along with “farmers market” into your search engine. You can also use the website Local Harvest that lists every place where you will be able to buy cheap organic foods.

2- Receive an organic basket of seasonal vegetables and fruits: Organic vegetables and fruits are often cheapest during the times in which they are most abundant. You can save even more money on organic food by joining a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  The program can supply you with seasonal food directly from local farms on a weekly basis. A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public, and these shares consist of a basket of vegetables, but other farms products can be included. Whatever the farm grows each week, you get your share of the yield. However, you can’t choose exactly what you want, you get what the farms grows. So as long as you’re not picky, you will always get the best seasonal produce for the cost of conventional produce in the grocery store or even cheaper. For fruits and vegetables that you do not like or have allergies to, most CSAs allow you to list the items that you do not want to receive.

3- Join an Organic Food Buying Club or an organic food Co-Op: A food cooperative or a buying club are a great way to get the organic produce you want on the cheap. Local co-ops typically works by gathering people who all want to take advantage of bulk buys as well as sharing the cost and savings.  Then the co-op is responsible for contacting local farms, distributors, or other sources to get the best prices on bulk orders and order accordingly for the entire group. After the produce is delivered, it’s divided up equally amongst the members. The best website to find food co-ops near you is Weston A. Price Foundation Local Chapters that only lists active co-ops.

4- Buy organic food directly from the farm: If you have more time or you are not living too far away from an organic farm, go visit the farmers and their farms yourself. You can directly check with them the quality of what you buy — either organic vegetables or organic meats. It is perhaps not the best option to save money, however, going directly to the farm can give you some great discounts! Go on Eat Wild Farm Directory to find local farmers that offer a variety of meats or on Local Harvest for organic vegetables.

5- Grow Your Own Organic Vegetable Garden: The cheapest way for getting healthy, fresh, organic vegetables and fruits is to start your own kitchen garden. It’s a great option to get extremely fresh foods on the cheap while spending time outside and working in your garden with your family. Even the first Lady Michelle Obama started a garden at the White House in 2009, so why not you?

Thanks to these options, you can now avoid paying a premium for organic produce and easily find cheap organic foods in the way you prefer that is most convenient for you and your family.