Instead of Potatoes Use...

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Tamar Genger MA, RD
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Potatoes still don't have a great reputation.  Most people think they have to avoid them because they are high in carbs. 1 large potato has 280 calories and 63 grams of carbs, but it also has 7 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, and half your daily value of potassium.  

The biggest problem with potatoes is really how we eat them. They are usually fried, filled with butter, or served with gravy, however even when we keep it plain there are some other tubers that may offer more nutrition bang for the buck. When every calorie counts you can try these potato substitutions for lower calorie, higher nutrient sides that will add variety and flavor to your meals.  

1. Turnips

FRESH RAW TURNIPS

Turnips are lower in calories than potatoes, 18 calories per cubed cup versus 59 in potatoes. Both have a nice amount of fiber and both have vitamins and minerals, although potatoes actually provide a higher amount of potassium and other minerals.

Turnips have a slightly bitter taste and they are not quite as starchy as potatoes, but they can be used in all the same recipes. My favorite way to use turnips is to actually mash them up with potatoes instead of a full sub, but anything you can do with potatoes you can do with turnips, even baking and stuffing them. 

TWICE-BAKED TURNIPS

Twice-Baked Turnips

Who would have thought to make this elegant side dish based on the same idea behind a twice baked potato -- but it totally works.   

2. Cauliflower

cauliflower.jpg

Cauliflower has become a substitute of all carbs. It is used in place of rice, couscous, and even pizza crust. It can also be a really easy flavorful substitute for potatoes.

Cauliflower is much lower in calories than potatoes with only 14 per ½ cup boiled compared to 67 in the equivalent amount of potatoes. However, it is notable that potatoes are higher in fiber and both have lots of key vitamins. Cauliflower is particularly known for being a good source of folate and vitamin K.

A popular cauliflower substitutue for potates is mashed, often with lots of cheese, but my favorite way to use cauliflower in place of potatoes is in kugel and latkes.

CAULIFLOWER KUGEL BITES

CAULIFLOWER KUGEL BITES

I have surprised many with these cauliflower bites. Everyone loves them and with big meat and carb heavy meals, going a little lighter on the kugel really does make a difference.   

3. Carrots

Carrots.jpg

Carrots are not always thought of as a potato sub, but they also work in many of the ways we love potatoes. Mashed, turned into chips or fries, scalloped, and more are delicious ways to prepare carrots.

Carrots have a nutritional profile more similar to sweet potatoes with their orange color and lots of beta-carotene, but compared to the 67 calories in ½ cup boiled potatoes carrots have only 27 calories.

CARROT PUREE

carrot puree

Mashed carrots should not be relegated to baby food - mix it up with lots of spices and you might not need mashed potatoes again.

These are the three vegetables that most of us are already familiar with that sub well for potatoes. In other cultures it is common to use Taro and Yucca, both starchy vegetables that can also sub for potatoes, but they don't offer the same reduced calorie benefits and are not always as easy to find.

How do you feel about potatoes? Do you use anything else as a substitution? 

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