We climb aboard the magical carpet, for a ride with a plant near and dear to my heart. It’s a perennial root vegetable, grown as tubers, in the roots of the plant (tubers are the edible section of the plant). Enjoyed by cultures worldwide, this plant is native to the Andes mountainous region in South America. Accounts also show Native Americans cultivating tuber plants in areas south of the Rocky Mountains.
There are thousands of different types, making them one of the largest food crops in the world. This starchy vegetable can be made into all kinds of delicious dishes. Makes for a phenomenal siding on most dinner plates.
Did you take a stab at it yet?
You must have a good idea by now…. So let’s talk potatoes!
The Inca Empire first cultivated this plant thousands of years ago. Since then, humans have been consuming potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It quickly moved across Europe throughout the 16th century. Soon after, it was being cultivated all over the word.
A host of nutritious benefits are packed inside each and everyone! In addition to cholesterol free and sodium free, potatoes are bountiful in the following categories.
- Protein – Depending on size, you can expect an average of 2-3 grams of protein in every potato.
- Vitamin C – An essential vitamin only found in fruits and veggies. Important for healthy muscle growth, amongst other things.
- Potassium – Estimates show most Americans do not consume enough potassium. One potato skin can give you 15% of your daily value. Have a couple skins and you’re well on your way to getting enough potassium.
- Carbohydrates and fiber – Essential nutrients for our muscles. Gives the body energy it needs to push through long arduous days.
With skyrocketing prices at grocery stores and farm stands across America, growing your own food is a monetarily smart decision. A few simple steps to follow and you can begin to freely enrich your diet.
- Place a potato on a dish, store it in a dark, cool area for a few weeks. Until the sprouts start to form.
- Once frost periods are over, find a sunny area with some space. Dig holes 1-2 feet apart.
- Bury a sprouted potato a few inches below the soil line, sprouts facing up.
- Be sure to water every couple of days. 3-4 months later, you should see flowers on your plant.
- Dig up your potatoes a couple weeks after flowers have bloomed.
Potatoes with sprouts are safe to consume. All you do is snap off the sprouted portions. Do not attempt to eat them in any way. Sprouts contain a toxic substance that induces vomiting and/or diarrhea. No, thank you!
Potatoes can be used for a number of different things. In addition to the obvious (food), it is also used in medicine. Sliced thinly, potatoes make a great poultice, due to antibacterial properties. It will soothe a skin burn and safely apply moisture to the injured area.
Most cultures globally use potatoes as an everyday crop. The Irish adopted the potato as a go to food of choice. The potato famine in 1840, wiped out crops all across Ireland. Potatoes were one of the only crops grown at that time to meet societies nutritional needs. Once potato crops were destroyed, millions of people either fled, or starved to death. Ireland lost nearly 1/4 of their population during this period.
Potatoes are certainly a powerhouse in the nutrition category. To maximize these nutrients, baking or steaming is the best cooking option. Boiling, for instance, allows healthy nutrients to escape, like vitamin C and potassium.
There are certainly a plethora of ways to eat a potato. They can be eaten raw, but this is not recommended and should only be done in small quantities. Some of the most common ways of preparing the potato include.
- French fries
- Potato salad,
- Hash browns,
- Home fries,
- Potato soup.
- Potato chips,
- Gnocchi ,
- Potato skins.
My favorite idea with leftover baked potatoes, cut them into french fries and freeze them. When you’re ready to thaw them out, this will allow for even reheating. Opposed to thawing out a whole potato which may not heat up evenly throughout the middle.
As we draw to a conclusion, we stumble upon a few fun facts.
When you buy potatoes in the store, they are still alive. This is how and why they grow sprouts.
The notion that potato skin contains the most of the nutrient is false. Large amounts of fiber are located in the skin, but most other nutrients are found in the starchy center.
Cooked potato dishes will freeze well. Just remember to let them cool to room temperature before doing so.
Not sure about you, but suddenly I have a craving for french fries!
See ya next time.