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Q & A: Healthy Potato Choices for Restaurants

Q:

We operate a restaurant in an area where people demand healthy choices on their menu. Do you have any suggestions?

A:

Helpful Tips for Creating Healthful Dishes with Idaho® Potatoes:

Scalloped/Au Gratin Potatoes: 1101Try this basic low-fat scalloped potato recipe: mix skim milk, sliced potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper; simmer until potatoes are nearly cooked. Add a little arrowroot dissolved in cold milk; stir until thickened. Pour into a hotel pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and low-fat Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350°F until brown. If you prepare a béchamel sauce from scratch for your scalloped potatoes, replace the cream in the sauce with equal parts skim milk and chicken stock and thicken with cornstarch or arrowroot rather than a roux. Add the following flavorful combinations of ingredients to your healthy scalloped potatoes, and your customer won’t miss the reduced fat:

  • Chopped sage leaves and diced yellow onions
  • Ground nutmeg and chopped chives
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, and fresh chopped basil
  • Thinly sliced Spanish onions

Replace the full-fat cheeses atop your au gratin potatoes with reduced-fat versions, like low-fat Parmesan, Mozzarella, Gouda, Cheddar, or Provolone. Choose a smoked variety for extra flavor.

Hash Browns: Use a non-stick fry pan coated with cooking spray instead of oil for reduced-fat skillet hash browns. If you do use oil to grill your potatoes, choose a heart-healthy oil such as corn or safflower. And make sure the pan and oil are hot (360 to 375ºF) before adding the potatoes; that will help reduce the amount of oil the potatoes absorb. Alternately, bake your browns in the oven, coating the pan with butter-flavored cooking spray first for extra flavor. Instead of salt, sprinkle your hash browns with a medley of finely chopped herbs. The herbs will add color, flavor, and a signature touch to your potatoes. Your customers won’t miss the fat if you turn up the flavor by adding minced garlic, onions, or shallots to your hash browns. Offer an exciting new twist on your reduced-fat hash browns with this Southwestern-style dish: Toss Idaho® potato hash browns with corn, diced red pepper, minced jalapeno peppers, and garlic; top with salsa.

Mashed Potatoes: Use low-fat or nonfat milk, or even chicken stock, instead of whole milk or cream for a lower-fat but still tasty mashed. As an alternate, add olive oil and water from the pot you used to boil the potatoes, instead of milk and butter. The potato water will contribute to flavor and also help replace the nutrients that are lost during boiling. Herbs and spices, either fresh or dried, can act as colorful flavor boosters in your lower-fat mashed potato preparations. Try basil, parsley, sage, tarragon, dill, saffron, or curry. Prepared sauces also can kick up the flavor of your reduce-fat mashed potatoes. Just fold in horseradish, Dijon-style mustard, or sun-dried tomato paste.

A Few More Healthy Potato Ideas: Broiled potato chips are healthier than fried, and just as tasty. Spread potato slices (1/16-inch thick) in a single layer on lightly-greased baking sheets, sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper, drizzle with chicken stock, and broil until crisp (about 1-4 minutes), flipping slices midway through. Baking is another healthy chip preparation. To create Orange Roasted Chips, toss sliced potatoes (1/8-inch thick) with olive oil, grated orange zest, dried rubbed sage, and cracked black pepper. Place in a single layer on greased baking sheets and bake at 425⁰F until crisp (about 40 minutes), flipping potatoes midway through. For Herbed Chips, season with minced garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Grated raw potato is a healthy alternative to cream for thickening soups. Add about 3 tablespoons of potato per cup of soup. Dehydrated mashed potato flakes or granules work well, too, for a thicker minestrone. Add a tangy, low-fat twist to your potato salad by using a mixture of nonfat yogurt and nonfat mayonnaise to bind the salad. Or, try whipping potatoes with sun-dried tomatoes and freshly chopped basil. Do you have any tips you’d like to share with our foodservice readers of this blog? Send me a note.