Unshaming the Mashed Potato

by Rita Shimniok of Purely Living Wellness

The coveted mashed potato for the Thanksgiving meal – personally, give me another helping of mashed potatoes and skip the pie! Do you feel the same?

I used to feel guilty about eating mashed potatoes at the holidays and felt I should stick with the yams. Depending on how the orange potatoes are dressed, they could be even worse for my health!

I let go of the guilt and I hope this share today helps you do the same if you struggle with food guilt. Now, I am not saying that if you have a potato allergy you should dive in, but for those of us who have a healthy mindset around food in general, I am declaring that some indulgences during the holidays is not only freeing, it’s good for your mental health. Shame and guilt are never a good thing…

I want to share with you a twist on the typical mashed spud, and also share some information that can scientifically reduce your guilt. Let’s start there…potato starch may have gotten a bad rap. Just as butter was given a bad rap and margarine was ushered in, which in reality ended up being detrimental to the global population as the nasty unsaturated fat, chemical-laden margarine caused arteries to clog and heart disease to rise. If you are still on the artificial butter bandwagon I encourage you to really dig in…and read “Good Fats, Bad Fats” by Gary Taubes.

I digress…about the spud…the starch was reported to be our enemy. But is it?  Per this article from the Mastering Diabetes organization, the insulin issue may be more about food combination. A person who is eating a higher fat diet might have more of a reaction to the white spud than others.  It is the fat/potato combo that makes potatoes potentially hazardous to one’s health – which is why the French fry is one of the most, if not in the top 3, of unhealthy food choices. The mention of unsaturated fat above…is important. Because it is the canola and vegetable oils that are the artery-clogging kind, and this is often used to fry potatoes. The combination spikes insulin and produces acrylamides, which is a carcinogenic chemical.

The Atkins Diet generated an all-out war on carbs – no matter what kind, simple, or complex. But carbs are absolutely necessary for your body to function. Again, please review this well-done article which explains the benefits of potato starch. The average medium white or red potato has a value of 27 carbs, whereas sweet potato has 37. Not all potatoes are alike. Fingerlings are reported to have the least amount of starch, and baking potatoes have the most, with a glycemic index of 87, which is what makes them fluff up so nicely when split open after baking. Generally speaking the smaller the potato the lower its glycemic index. This article ranks potatoes by how healthy they are and explains the vitamin and mineral content of various potatoes.

Embracing mashed potatoes – let’s dirty them up!  

I love mashing my potatoes with organic, unsweetened almond milk.  First, I saute garlic and caramelize onions in avocado oil if vegan – or use a combination of bacon fat and ghee for even greater flavor. These three foods: almond milk, garlic, and caramelized onion are added to a blender or food processor to puree. I  don’t care for watery potatoes – so I mash my potatoes with a good ol’ fashioned hand masher, and fold in the delicious puree. Personally, I add in additional ghee, but if you are vegan can skip this.  If there is no concern for fat content – you can even fold organic full fat sour cream and perhaps even asiago shredded cheese to your potato mash. Once you have the desired flavor, place the mashed potatoes into a baking dish and place in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes to create a lightly golden crust on the potatoes. Have you heard the term “foodgasm”? Yeah, this is a great description for your first bite of these amazing mashed potatoes!

Don’t be guilted or shamed when you enjoy your holiday celebrations. Food is to be enjoyed, praised and given thanks for providing beneficial nutrients for life. 

In love, peace and light,

Rita S.