DIVAS ON A DIME: Rediscover the forgotten king of carbs

By Patti Diamond

Add potatoes back to your meal rotation with this baked potato recipe. (www.JasonCoblentz.com)

Remember stuffed baked potatoes? I was discussing food with some friends, and none of us could recall the last time we had stuffed baked potatoes. We’ve been so occupied with quinoa and cauliflower rice that we overlooked the King of Carbs — good carbs, of course.

The humble potato is underrated. It’s a low-fat, low-cholesterol source of carbs and protein, packed with vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, calcium and more potassium than a banana. The bad reputation comes from typical toppings, like copious amounts of butter, sour cream and bacon.

I suggest adding baked potato night to your meal rotation. They’re a versatile canvas for any topping you can imagine, and of course, they’re budget friendly, because that’s how I roll.

Before topping, we must bake the potatoes. Crispy skin and fluffy insides are achieved with russet potatoes. Here’s how to bake them perfectly:

For oven baking, preheat to 400 F. Thoroughly wash the potatoes, poke them with a knife to release steam (to avoid explosions), and rub them with olive oil and salt. Place directly on the upper oven rack with a baking sheet below. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a knife easily pierces the potato.

For microwave cooking, poke, oil and salt the potatoes. Place them on a microwave-safe plate and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Repeat until cooked through.

If time is limited, start in the microwave and finish in the oven for 20 minutes.

Now, here’s a dinner recipe: Inside-out Shepard’s Pie. It’s a complete, quick and easy meal. Instead of the traditional casserole, we place the filling on a baked potato. That’s much simpler than mashing potatoes.



Yield: 4 servings

Time: 1 hour

4 baking potatoes

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 cup onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 to 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, to taste

1 (14.5 ounce) can (1 1/2 cups) beef broth

1 (14.75 ounce) can creamed corn

1 (12 ounce) bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the potatoes using your preferred method.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, on medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until mostly cooked; drain excess fat. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. When the beef is cooked, add the tomato paste, Worcestershire and broth, stirring to combine. Add your corn and veggies, and let this mixture simmer until the potatoes are cooked. It’s going to be saucy. Adjust seasoning to taste. When the potatoes are cooked, place them close together in a pie plate or baking dish. Cut them open partway, fluff the insides and spoon the filling inside the potatoes. Divide the cheese between the stuffed spuds and return to the oven or microwave to melt the cheese. Serve with a salad, and dinner is done.

Here are two more great flavor combinations for inspiration:

Pizza Stuffed Potato: Scoop the insides out of four baked potatoes. Mash with pizza sauce and shredded mozzarella, and stuff back into the skins. Top with sliced pepperoni, more mozzarella and Parmesan, and broil to melt.

Broccoli, Ham and Swiss: Scoop the insides out of four baked potatoes. Mash with butter, add diced ham, shredded Swiss cheese and steamed broccoli. Stuff into the skins, top with more cheese and broil to melt.

I hope this inspires you to pick up some potatoes next time you shop. As a wise person once said: “Potatoes give us french fries, potato chips and vodka. It’s like the other vegetables aren’t even trying.”


Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com


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