iowa potato businesses

The Healthy Potato

Did you know that the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in a potato can help ward off disease and benefit human health?

 

Heart health

The potato’s fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health. Potatoes contain significant amounts of fiber. Fiber helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease.

Inflammation

Choline is an important and versatile nutrient that is present in potatoes. It helps with muscle movement, mood, learning, fat absorption and memory. It enhances early brain development. Vitamin C and quercetin function as antioxidants, protecting cells against damage from free radicals. Quercetin has an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect that protects the body’s cells from damage by free radicals

Bone health

The iron, phosphorous, calciummagnesium, and zinc in potatoes all help the body to build and maintain bone structure and strength. Iron and zinc play crucial roles in the production and maturation of collagen. Phosphorus and calcium are both important in bone structure.

Immunity

Research has found that vitamin C helps reduce the severity and duration of a cold. Potatoes contain vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help prevent cell damage and cancer and promote healthy digestion and cardiovascular functions.

Blood pressure

A low sodium intake is essential for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, but increasing potassium intake may be just as important. Potassium encourages vasodilation, or the widening of the blood vessels. Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all present in the potato. These have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally.

Cancer

Potatoes contain folate. Folate plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, and so it prevents many types of cancer cells from forming due to mutations in the DNA. Fiber intake from fruits and vegetables like potatoes are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.

Digestion and regularity

The fiber content in potatoes helps prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Weight management and satiety

Dietary fibers are commonly recognized as important factors in weight management and weight loss. They act as “bulking agents” in the digestive system. They increase satiety and reduce appetite, so that a person feels fuller for longer and is less likely to consume more calories.

Metabolism

Potatoes are a great source of vitamin B6. This plays a vital role in energy metabolism, by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins into glucose and amino acids. These smaller compounds are more easily utilized for energy within the body. Potatoes contain a compound known as alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which helps the body to convert glucose into energy. Alpha-lipoic acid can help control blood glucose levels, improve vasodilation, protect against retinopathy in diabetic patients, and preserve brain and nerve tissue.

Skin

Collagen is the skin’s support system. The Vitamin C in a potato works as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke. Vitamin C also helps collagen smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.

Potato Power

THE NUTRITION FACTS LABEL SAYS IT ALL:

Potatoes provide the carbohydrate, potassium and energy that we need to perform at our best. More energy-packed than any other popular vegetable, potatoes have even more potassium than a banana. Plus, there’s a potato option to fuel your body and brain throughout the day — whether you lead an active lifestyle or are competing with elite athletes.

 

WOW!

Potatoes: Goodness Unearthed

No More Tears

onion

Courtesy of The National Onion Association

Why do your eyes water when you cut onions? And, more importantly, how do you make it stop?

We’ve all been through it: Many a recipe starts with the chopping of an onion. The next few steps are accomplished through a haze of tears as the savory and pungent onion prickles our noses and sends our tear ducts reeling. This video will not only show you how to cut an onion, it will answer that age-old question: Why do your eyes water when you cut onions?

Onion Facts

Onions are one of the oldest foods known to the human race. Onions are mentioned in the Bible as one of the foods the Israelites ate and history shows the ancient Egyptians. The Romans took onions to Europe when they made their way across the continent and the Pilgrims brought onions to the US when they came over on the Mayflower.

 

Onion basics

There are 27 different types of onions. All onions grow under the ground and have hollow green or bluish-green tubes that grow above the ground. Most people call these tubes the onion tops.

Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They will grow in just about any type of soil as long as they get sunshine and the right amount of water, but they will grow best in soil that is loose and acidic (has a ph of 5.5 to 6.5). Onions like for the soil to be moist, but not too wet. If the soil is too wet, the onions will rot in the ground.
In most climates you can plant onions in the mid to late spring. Onions can be started from seeds, but most people start onions from ‘sets’, which are tiny little onions.

The different types of onions

Most onions are purple, yellow or white. All onions taste like onions, but some are sweeter than others. Different types of onions also grow differently. Let’s look at a few of the most common types of onions we use for cooking and eating.

  • Pearl onions are tiny white onions with a sweet, mild flavor. They are used to make pickled onions, relishes, soups and stews.
  • Bermuda onions are large onions with a mild flavor and thick skin.
  • Egyptian onions have a very strong flavor. Both the bulb and the top are eaten.
  • Green onions are small, mild-flavored onions. Green onions—both the bulbs and the tops—are used in salads, dips and eaten by themselves.
  • Vidalia onions are yellow and have a sweet, subtle taste. These are the most popular onions for pizza, onion rings, salads and soups.
  • Super-sweets are also used in the same way Vidalia onions are used. Just like their name, these onions are really and truly super-sweet. People eat them raw on sandwiches, in salads and for making salsa.
  • Shallots and Scallions are small, mild-tasting and used in stir-fry, salads, and for seasoning foods. They are a lot like garlic.

 

Fun onion facts

  • Onions really do make you cry. That’s because of the sulfuric acid in them. The acid isn’t dangerous to eat, but it sure does burn your eyes.
  • You can peel or cut an onion without crying if you cut the root end last and if the onion is cold or you cut it while holding the onion under cold running water.
  • Ancient Egyptians worshipped the onion
  • Over 450 semi-truck loads of onions are eaten every single day!
  • There is an old saying that says the thicker the onion’s skin the colder the winter will be.
  • Onions have been used for many years to help get rid of coughs and fevers by placing a layer of sliced, cooked onions on your chest and wrapping yourself in warm blankets.
  • The largest onion on record weighed over 10 pounds!
  • You can get rid of ‘onion breath’ by eating parsley.
  • Onions are low in calories, high in calcium and high in vitamin C.
  • Onions are 97% water!

Sweet Potato Facts

Sweet potatoes are an excellent way to eat healthy!  They are fat-free and cholesterol-free.

Sweet potatoes are high in Beta Carotene.  They are an excellent source of copper, manganese, potassium, iron and vitamin B-6.

Sweet potatoes are a superfood and they taste great!  They are excellent accompaniments to poultry, pork, beef, lamb or seafood.  They can also be substituted in virtually any recipe that calls for apples, squash or white potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber when eaten with the skin on.

Sweet potatoes can be:

  • Baked
  • Steameduntitled
  • Boiled
  • Microwaved
  • Fried
  • Juiced
  • Pureed
  • Eaten Raw

Sweet potatoes are roots, compared to regular potatoes which are tubers (underground stems).

Sweet potatoes were grown by our first president, George Washington, on his farmland in Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Sweet potatoes were used by George Washington Carver, a famous scientist, to develop 118 products, including glue for postage stamps and starch for sizing cotton fabrics.

Sweet potatoes have unique health benefits!  They are loaded with vitamins A, C and E – antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease and cancer, bolster the immune system and even slow aging by promoting good vision and healthy skin.  They have been recently reclassified as an “antidiabetic” food.  They are anti-inflammatory and can protect against emphysema.

 

Potato ABC s

hand-graded-twice-badgeAre Potatoes Healthy? Let’s look at the ABC’s of Potatoes

According to a National Eating Trends survey, potatoes are America’s favorite side dish, and that’s great news, America, because the potatoes you love are good for you, too. Here is your A to Z guide on potato nutrition:

 

 

  • Antioxidants. Potatoes contain antioxidants including Vitamin C, Carotenoids, and Anthocyanins. The amount and types are dependent upon the potato variety. So, make sure to include a number of different potato types (e.g., reds, purples, yellow, russets) in your diet.
  • Vitamin B: Potatoes are a good source of Vitamin B which is a nutrient that plays an important role in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It helps turn the energy from food into energy your body can use.
  • Vitamin C: Potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C (45% of the DV), in fact they have more Vitamin C than one medium tomato (40% DV) or sweet potato (30% DV). Vitamin C plays a key role in the synthesis of collagen (important for healthy skin and gums) and may help support the body’s immune system.
  • Delicious. Potatoes are a blank canvas for hundreds of flavor combinations. Asian, Italian, American, German, Mediterranean…the possibilities are endless.
  • E—newsletter. Sign up today for a weekly potato recipe delivered to your email inbox each week at www.potatogoodness.com/e-weekly-recipe-email.
  • Fiber. One wholesome, satisfying potato with skin contributes 2 grams of fiber to the diet or 8% of the recommended daily value. Dietary fiber has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including improving blood lipid levels, regulating blood glucose, and increasing satiety (makes you feel full longer), which may help with weight loss.
  • Gluten-Free. Potatoes are naturally gluten-free. An ideal substitution for some of your favorite bread, grain and pasta-based dishes, potatoes add a boost of nutritional benefits too.
  • Healthy. That’s right, potatoes can be part of a healthy diet. It’s the toppings that typically put spuds over the top in calories and fat. Try salsa, low-fat cheese and broccoli instead!
  • Glycemic Index. The GI of potatoes is highly variable depending on the variety, origin and preparation methods. Confused?  Don’t worry about it–both the 2010 and 2015 Dietary Guidelines committees  concluded  there is no evidence indicating the GI aids in weight loss or weight loss maintenance.
  • Just 110 Calories. A medium (5.3 ounce) potato with skin has just 110 calories. Keep them lean by simply roasting with olive oil, herbs and a pinch of salt.
  • K = Potassium (periodic table, anyone?). Research suggests diets high in potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. Potatoes with skin are a good source of potassium.
  • Label. Look to the FDA-approved nutrition label for all of the facts on potato nutrition.
  • Magnesium. A medium potato provides 48 mg of magnesium and research indicates potatoes contribute 5% of the total magnesium intake in the diets of Americans. **
  • Nutrition Facts: One medium potato has no fat, sodium or cholesterol. Just check out the FDA-approved nutrition label!
  • OMG. Who doesn’t love the taste of potatoes?! Expand your passion for potatoes even further with new types, cooking preparations, and global spices.
  • Peel. The potato’s skin contains approximately half  the total dietary fiber, but the majority (> 50 percent) of the nutrients are found within the potato, itself.
  • Quick. Potatoes come in hundreds of shapes and sizes. Try the smaller varieties for a quick stove-top meal, and remember to use the microwave to speed the cook time of all your potato recipes.
  • Resistant Starch.  Resistant Starch (RS) is found naturally in potatoes and is a type of carbohydrate that is “resistant” to digestion by human digestive enzymes, just like dietary fiber. It also is believed to deliver similar health benefits to dietary fiber and has been shown in both human and animal studies to improve the health of the gastrointestinal tract and digestive system.
  • Types. Russets, reds, yellows, purples/blues, whites, fingerlings and petites. There’s a different type for every day of the week. Try them all!
  • USA. A vast majority of all potato farms in the U.S. are family owned. From California to the Carolinas, families just like yours work hard year-round to nurture, grow and deliver potatoes from their farm to your local market.
  • Vegetable. That’s right, folks. Potatoes are a vegetable.
  • Weight Management. Research shows potatoes (when prepared healthfully) can be part of a weight loss plan.**
  • Xcellent. Need we say more? Only two more letters to go and it’s pretty obvious potatoes are an excellent staple in our diet.
  • Yummy. According to consumers**, taste is everything. Tastes good and good for you? Potatoes are the superfood you’ve been dreaming about.
  • Zero. Did we mention zero fat, sodium or cholesterol?
iowa potato packers

Perfect Fit for a Healthy Diet

fat free

The funny thing about potatoes is………..

since we all grew up with them, we think we know all about ‘em. In fact, there is a lot of misinformation about potatoes; sometimes people think of them as a fattening starch, when in reality, they’re a healthy, fresh vegetable.

More and more, studies are showing they are a perfect fit for a healthy diet, assuming you go easy on the butter and sour cream.

So-called “low-carb diets” love to malign potatoes. In fact, research shows potatoes are a great tool in weight loss. They are low in calories and are full of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.

Buying and Storing Potatoes

Buying

Look for clean, smooth, firm-textured potatoes with no cuts, bruises or discoloration.

Proper Storage

  • Store potatoes in a cool, well ventilated place.
  • Colder temperatures lower than 50 degrees, such as in the refrigerator, cause a potato’s starch to convert to sugar, resulting in a sweet taste and discoloration when cooked.  If you do refrigerate, letting the potato warm gradually to room temperature before cooking can reduce the discoloration.
  • Avoid areas that reach high temperatures (beneath the sink or beside large appliances) or receive too much sunlight (on the countertop).
  • Perforated plastic bags and paper bags offer the best environment for extending shelf-life
  • Keep potatoes out of the light.
  • Don’t wash potatoes (or any produce, for that matter) before storing.  Dampness promotes early spoilage.
Des Moines Potato Company

There are more than 100 varieties of potatoes sold throughout the United States.

Each of these varieties fit into one of seven potato type categories:

 

Russet Potatoes

russetsAppearance: medium to large, oblong or slightly flattened oval, light to medium russet-brown, netted skin, white to pale yellow flesh.

Texture: floury and dry; light and fluffy; hearty skin that is chewy when cooked.

Flavor: mild; earthy; medium sugar content

Preferred uses: baking, frying, mashing, roasted

Russet potatoes are the most popular type of potato. Russets are ideal for light and fluffy mashed potatoes. They also fry up crisp and golden brown, and they are the potato of choice for baking. The delicate flavor and fluffy texture of baked russets go well with all kinds of toppings, from traditional sour cream and chives to spicy and bold Mediterranean or Latin flavors.

Red Potatoes

redsAppearance: small to medium; round or slightly oblong; smooth, thin red skin; white flesh

Texture: waxy, moist and smooth; creamy

Flavor: Subtly sweet; mild medium sugar content

Preferred uses: Roasting, mashing, salads, soups/stews

 

Because of their waxy texture, the flesh of red potatoes stays firm throughout the cooking process, whether they are being roasted or cooked in a stew. Their thin yet vibrant red skin adds appealing color and texture to side dishes and salads. Reds are frequently used to make tender yet firm potato salad or add pizazz to soups and stews, as well as being served baked or mashed. Round reds are often referred to as “new potatoes,” but the term “new” technically refers to any type of potato that is harvested before reaching maturity.

White Potatoes

whitesAppearance: small to medium; round to long shape; white or tan skin; white flesh

Texture: medium starch; slightly creamy, slightly dense; thin, delicate skin

Flavor: subtly sweet; mild; low sugar content

Preferred uses: mashing, salads, steaming/boiling, frying

 

White potatoes hold their shape well after cooking. Their delicate, thin skins add just the right amount of texture to a velvety mashed potato dish without the need for peeling. Grilling whites brings out a more full-bodied flavor. Create signature potato salads–just toss cooked white potatoes with dressings and ingredients “borrowed” from other salads, e.g., Caesar dressing and grated Parmesan; or ranch dressing, chopped egg and bacon crumbles.

 Yellow Potatoes

yellowsAppearance: marble to large size; round or oblong shape; light tan to golden skin; yellow to golden flesh.

Texture: slightly waxy, velvety, moist

Flavor: subtly sweet; rich; buttery; medium-sugar content

Preferred uses: grilling, roasting, mashing, salads

Grilling gives yellow potatoes a crispy skin that enhances the dense flesh, creating a slightly sweet caramelized flavor. The creamy texture and golden color of yellow potatoes mean you can use less or no butter for lighter, healthier dishes. The naturally smooth and buttery texture also lends itself well to lighter versions of baked, roasted or mashed potatoes. Simmer yellow potatoes until fully cooked, then drain, chill, and gently “smash” into flat disks. Brown these in oil or butter and serve as a side or appetizer topped with sour cream and chives or other garnishes.

Purple/Blue Potatoes

bluesAppearance: small to medium size; oblong to fingerling; deep purple, blue or slightly red skin; blue, purple lavender, pink or white flesh

Texture: moist; firm flesh. Flavor: earthy, nutty, low sugar content

Preferred Uses: roasting, grilling, salads, baking

 

Most blue/purple potatoes have moist, firm flesh that retains its shape while adding rich, vibrant color and luscious taste to salads. The purple color is preserved best by microwaving, but steaming and baking are also great ways to cook blue/purple potatoes. Because of their mild yet distinctly nutty flavor, blue/purple potatoes naturally complement green salad flavors. Red, White and Blues—Combine blue potatoes with whites and reds in salads or roasted medleys to make all three colors “pop”.

Fingerling Potatoes

fingerlingsAppearance: 2” to 4” long; finger-shaped or oblong; red, orange, purple or white skin; red orange, purple, yellow or white flesh–sometimes streaked with veins of color.

Texture: waxy, firm, try

Flavor: buttery; nutty; earthy; medium sugar content

Preferred uses: Pan-frying, roasting, salads

Fingerling color and shape are a welcome visual addition to any dish. Pan-frying and roasting enhance their robust flavor and showcase their wonderful nutty or buttery tastes. Consider fingerlings as a change-of-pace foundation for a unique potato salad. Split fingerlings lengthwise and oven-roast to serve as a small-plate or side-dish alternative to fries, with a flavor dipping sauce, like spicy ketchup, romesco, or sriracha mayo.

 Petite Potatoes

petitesThese small, bite-sized potatoes are actually a grade standard based upon size (“C-size” and smaller, oftentimes referred to as pearls or marble-size). They are the same skin and flesh color as their larger-sized cousins, as well as the shape, texture and sugar content. Their flavor profile is similar but with a more concentrated flavor to their larger-sized cousins.

Preferred uses: salads, roasting, frying

 

Petites make a great substitute for pasta, adding nutritional value as well. Roast a combination of colors for an eye-catching side dish. Their concentrated flavors and quicker cooking time makes petites a good choice for potato salads. Simply toss petites in olive oil, rosemary and salt and pepper to make colorful, delicious and fun roasted potatoes. They save you prep time, because they can be prepared and served whole, without slicing or chopping.