Here’s the problem with potatoes: they’re super boring. Let’s please admit it. “I won’t admit it, Todd!” you say in an inappropriately upset tone. “Some of my favorite foods are made of potatoes!”
It’s true, kind of. We can all think of wonderful foods that are pretty strongly potato-based. Fries, hash browns, baked potatoes, sometimes vodka– the common thread between them is their childhood as a normal potato. But they also all have in common that you had to do a lot of stuff to that potato in order to enjoy it. Fried and salted, buttered and creamed, or at the very least drowned in ketchup, potatoes are one of our most disliked favorite foods.
I’ve never really been a fan of boring potatoes, but at least I admit it. Even as a kid, the fact that I had to drown my baked potato in sour cream to enjoy it rang a little sneaky to me, so I just tried to avoid the spud in general if it wasn’t covered in cheese or ketchup. I like potatoes a lot more now, but I think there’s an important principle in trying to enjoy them without a lot of accoutrements or frying. There’s a lot of integrity in roasted potatoes that have nothing more than spices and a little olive oil to cover their nakedness.
As part of our quest toward living simply, we try to apply the same principle to mashed potatoes here in the VP manor. You can get on the internet and find all kinds of recipes (who knew?) for the world’s best mashed potatoes that everybody’s kids gobble up by the bucketful, but the ingredients list usually includes cream cheese or silly amounts of butter or everybody’s favorite taste-booster: bacon. I think that it defeats the purpose of cooking something well if you have to include cheese and bacon to even enjoy it.
However, like I said, potatoes are awfully boring, and they do need some help. What we want from mashed potatoes is two things, mainly: creaminess, and flavor. To accomplish this in a more nutrition conscious way, we ended up turning to one of my favorite kitchen helpers: yogurt! Both yogurt and buttermilk are just plain old milk that have had their proteins and flavors changed by friendly bacteria, and I like to use them anytime I need to add creaminess without extra fat or sugar. Buttermilk and yogurt each have their own benefits flavor-wise, and they fit the bill for what we need in our mashed potatoes. The thickness of texture and nutty tanginess of flavor give our potatoes enough character to pass the bar without any other assistance. Try it out, I think you’ll agree.
Awesome Healthy Mashed Potatoes Recipe
3 lbs thin-skinned potatoes (such as red or yukon gold)
1 cup total of buttermilk or unflavored/unsweetened yogurt.
1-2 tb butter (optional)
salt and pepper
milk if needed, to adjust texture to your preference
spinach or other add-ins, just for fun (optional)
Cut the potatoes into quarters (leave the skins on) and microwave for 5-10 minutes until a fork pierces with no resistance. You can also boil the pieces, but that’s a huge pain and has no benefits over the microwave method.
Once the potatoes are soft, mash or whip them until they fall apart. We use a handheld mixer/eggbeater for this, and it works really well, but to each their own.
Mix together your dairy items and microwave briefly (20-30 seconds). This is just to get them warm, so they don’t suck the heat out of your mashed potatoes. No one likes cold mashed potatoes.
Mash together your liquids and your potatoes. Adjust liquid to your taste. Add salt and pepper and any other add-ins and serve.
Try these out before you tell me they’re not as good as your mom’s. Trust me, you’ll be on my team once you do, especially if you’re trying to live more simply and eat fewer pointless calories.