The In Season Vegetable With A Bad Reputation

January 2, 2013   59 Comments

Snack Girl knows how you are feeling right now. Too many bowl games?

Slow Cooker Potato

But, don’t call yourself a “couch potato”. Call yourself a “couch potato chip”. Potatoes are not the same as potato chips.

For example, humans can actually survive healthily on a diet of potatoes supplemented only with milk or butter, which contain the two vitamins not provided by potatoes (vitamins A and D). I would not suggest you try this with potato chips.

Yes, potatoes are nutritious. Here are the nutritional facts for one medium potato:

170 calories, 0 g fat, 0.0 g saturated fat, 37 g carbohydrates, 2.0 g sugar, 5 g protein, 4 g fiber, 25 mg sodium, 4 Points+

and you get 35% of your daily value of Vitamin C and 10% of your daily value of iron.

I happen to really like potatoes because they are cheap right now. I bought 10 pounds for $5 and they are perfect for the cold, wintry weather we are having.

The problem is we load them. Potatoes are not guns. Why we insist on putting sour cream, butter, and bacon on a potato in mounds is a mystery to me because they taste great with very little seasoning. Okay, they also taste great “loaded”, but that is a terrible way to stay healthy.

My suggestion is to seal in the flavor of the potato by baking them in a slow cooker like this:

Scrub your potatoes, dry them, prick them with a fork, wrap them in aluminum foil, put them in a slow cooker on low, and leave them for 7 hours.

What will happen? Well, you will walk in after a hard day and smell the wonderful scent of baking potatoes.

Grab some fresh salsa and a little bit of cheese and have a lighter potato with added vegetables. Add some black beans mixed with corn and some tabasco? How about salt, pepper, and some greek yogurt?

Take a good hard look in your fridge and see what you can find that isn't butter, sour cream, and bacon and put it on your potato.


What do you put on your baked potato?

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Okay, I'll be honest here. I love potatoes but was told by a doctor that white potatoes are basically sugar and I should avoid them in my quest to lower my cholesterol, so I have put them in the white bread, white rice category. Am I wrong? I'd be so happy to be wrong. ; )

on January 2, 2013

I use a little Smart Squeeze (Smart Balance Squeeze Butter) and a Laughing Cow cheese triangle. Very good and low WW points plus. I also sometimes use lowfat cottage cheese. Tastes a lot like sour cream. Enjoy!

on January 2, 2013

I hate that potatoes get a bad wrap! I love them!! They are fantastic little vegetable!!!!

on January 2, 2013

Interesting website about the potato by a doctor. Worth reading.

on January 2, 2013

I add steamed broccoli and lowfat cheddar cheese and dinner is done! YUM!

on January 2, 2013

If I eat potatoes, and it's rare, it's a sweet potato. white potatoes have a high GI and are just meh when I try them. so many better options for vitamins, potassium, TASTE and nutrients than a plain jane white potato. I agree with patti's category for white potatoes! I'll leave them out of MY skinny choices for 2013.

on January 2, 2013

Can you cook sweet potatoes like this?

on January 2, 2013

I love potatoes in pretty much any form but french fries (I know I'm weird). To make them healthier, I top them with low fat greek yogurt and a bean salad made of: black beans, kidney beans, white beans, red wine vinegar, olive oil, tomatoes, and cilantro. Sometimes I add corn but not always. I do love them with butter and sour cream but I try to make that a rare treat. I like sweet potatoes but not everyone in my family does. We've found that mixing 1/2 sweet potato and 1/2 yukon gold and mashing them together makes a mix everyone likes.

on January 2, 2013

My RD philosophy: if you like white potatoes eat them! As snack girl posted they have a lot of great benefits when not loaded with fat or when you don't consume the ones the size of your head. Only eaten in large quantities will it effect your triglycerides (not total chol unless loaded with sour cr/butter/bacon). All carbs are sugar when not burned off (used) by the body. Are there better carb choices:sure but do they have to be on the forbidden list- only if you can't control yr consumption. As for GI, it also depends on what you eat the food with, how it's cooked and then when its eaten (potatoes eaten the next day have lower GI). Happy New Year! Hope we can all find peace in what we eat.

on January 2, 2013

No one ever got fat from eating a baked potato. It's what they put on them that matters. Scrub the skin good and eat that also.

on January 2, 2013

Lisa, you are an incredible writer. I can always related to your 'writer's voice.'

Baked/microwaved, plain potatoes can be pretty darned dry and hard to swallow, and that's why I think we are tempted to put greasy stuff on them. I actually like boiled red potatoes with some salt, because they aren't dry. I will sometimes use salsa on a baked potato, but it has to be great salsa as the potato will only taste like salsa.

I like sweet potatoes, microwaved in the peel, and topped with agave nector or real maple syrup and a sprinkle of real cinnamon. This keeps it from being too dry. Sometimes I also top with raw, organic, chopped pecans or walnuts.

on January 2, 2013

Sorry to be dumb, but what is GI?

on January 2, 2013

Will try this tonight with a 4 bean, lean hamburger chili on top. Yumm.

on January 2, 2013

Potatoes are also packed with potassium -- it's in the skin, though, so don't peel them!

on January 2, 2013

Unloaded potatoes are great; thanks for the reminder, Lisa.

When my wife and I are out and let ourselves get too hungry, it's straight to Wendy's for two (or three!) plain baked potatoes. Some salt and pepper and that tides us over for a little while.

This may seem like a weird cooking method -- and it requires a careful watch -- but it yields the buttery-est potatoes I've ever had:

- scrub a potato or two (we buy organics because potatoes are on the "Dirty Dozen" list)

- wrap each potato in a plain white paper towel (or I guess you could use a small, clean rag)

- wet the paper towel completely

- insert the potato/towel combo deep into an oven mitt. (Yes, an oven mitt.)

- fold the end of the oven mitt over and put it in the microwave

- microwave on high for a few minutes (ours take about 5-6 minutes, but better to check it early than to burn down your house)

- CAREFULLY remove the oven mitt from the microwave and CAREFULLY dump the potato(es) on to a plate or something and LET COOL

- when cool, remove the towel and season to taste. (We typically do sea salt and pepper, but there's some African Smoke seasoning from Trader Joe's that my wife likes, I like salsa or spicy mustard...)

I, too, like the Yukons for the above method.

on January 2, 2013

Andy D - At a craft fair I bought a home made fabric container that is to be used in the microwave to bake the potatoes. I could of saved myself some money by using a oven mitt. Same idea. It does work well. I like the idea of the crock pot though for when I make my husband sweet potatoes. Usually I bake 5 to 6 in oven on a Sunday and he has them for the week.

on January 2, 2013

I am trying this today! You give so many unique and inspiring ways of doing things...thanks SG!

on January 2, 2013

@Sue K- I actually bought off ebay a pair of the containers you mentioned and the first one caught fire. It was then that I learned the importance of making the towel completely damp (so that the potato steams, not bakes) and watching it carefully until I get a better feel for size/time calculations!

And I'm with you -- it does work well and makes for yummy potatoes.

But your crock pot idea has me interested -- do you put the sweet potatoes in water in the crock pot and let them cook during the day or something else? Thanks in advance!

on January 2, 2013

Holly...GI is Glycemic Index. It's how fast your body converts carbs to sugars. Google it for the whole story.

on January 2, 2013

Anyone who wants to tell me that I am great writer gets extra points today :)

So, white bread is a processed food, white rice is a processed food - both have the nutrients removed from them. Potatoes have carbohydrates BUT they also have nutrients which makes them a better choice.

Sweet potatoes have even more nutrients than white potatoes (that orange color is Vitamin A, baby) - so if you like them - bake them in the slow cooker too.

Most of us are trying to stop eating crap and potatoes are definitely not crap. That is my take.

on January 2, 2013

I would do them the same way as regular potatoes in the crock pot. Wrap in foil, no water.

Thanks for the warning about wrapping in paper towel first. The instruction never mentioned that. It makes sense and I guess I was lucky it didn't catch on fire.

on January 2, 2013

To piggyback on Lisa's comment, recently, my wife was wondering how much protein she was getting, so I went to my favorite nutrition-calculator site ( and calculated the protein percentages* for a few of our common edibles:

quinoa 13.86% of calories from protein

lentils 30.03%

spinach 34.80%

baked potato 8.21%

* Since 1 gram of protein = 4 calories (and 1 gram of fat has 9 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories), you just:

take # of protein grams

multiply that by 4

divide that result by the total # of calories

= % of calories from protein

It seems that our bodies have an easier time getting the benefit from plant-based proteins (it sounds, to me, like animal protein is too biosimilar to human protein, so our bodies try to eliminate it, not digest it), so she and I are content with the above "low" protein percentages and don't worry that we're not getting the 30-40% (or higher) RDA (which, I'd argue has a strong animal-protein industry influence).

Stepping off my soapbox... :)

And thanks for the details, Sue K. I'll try that soon!

on January 2, 2013

Hi there, We love potatoes- white or orange! I can't wait to try the slow cooker method. I add steamed broccoli & just a small bit of grated cheese on top. Thanks for the reminder.

on January 2, 2013

Sometimes people get so caught up in the GI levels that they miss the point of eating a variety of vegetables and carbs. Think of the GI levels in process foods, not real food.

on January 2, 2013

I like to top a baked potato with fat free cottage cheese and a bit of S&P, no butter necessary. I prefer sweet potatoes and intend on trying your crock pot method. Thanks for the idea, Snack Girl!

on January 2, 2013

Argh! I'm such a moron. I didn't even realize that Lisa had explained how to slow-cook potatoes in the post. (I just skimmed the directions because I was like, "Yeah, potatoes, good stuff...")

Maybe I need to jump-start my day with a baked potato. :)

on January 2, 2013

Red-skin potatoes, cut up in small chunks, tossed with olive oil, salt & pepper, roasted. Perfect.

on January 2, 2013

A little olive oil, enough smoked paprika and some coarse salt, ummmm!

on January 2, 2013

not to get too off topic...but I have a potato swap I can't help but sharing. For all of you who are fans of can do the same thing with tempeh and create a tempeh hash that is terrific. Cook some chopped onions and garlic in olive oil, add tempeh and break it up with a wooden spoon in the pan...add some soy sauce, and a little bit of paprika and cook ~10 min @ med/low with salsa if desired when done and this makes a very filling breakfast with the protein from tempeh!

on January 2, 2013

@Michelle- what a great recipe! My wife and I *love* that kind of breakfast and usually only get it when we luck out at a breakfast place that serves it. But your explanation makes it sound so easy that I've already queued it up to give it a try this Sunday. THANK YOU for the tip! :)

Oh, have I mentioned that Lisa is an amazing blogger? ;)

on January 2, 2013

Michelle - Have always wanted to try Tempeh, but wasn't sure what to do with it. Will try this, thanks

on January 2, 2013

So just to confirm, the sweet potates can be cooked using the same method with aluminum foil in the crock pot? Same amount of time? and no water needed? I'll have to try this!!

on January 2, 2013

Have to say I could live on potatoes. Anyway is good. If I can't figure out what to eat I'll eat a potato. Read The Starch Solution. Happy New Year everyone.!

on January 2, 2013

@Lynn - it will work. Trust me.

on January 2, 2013

Snack Girl, can you define what you consider a 'medium' sized potato. As in when I'm selecting potatoes at the grocery store, about how many ounces am I looking for? Thank you for defending the white potato! I agree that it is a pure unprocessed food that is safe to include in a healthy diet.

on January 2, 2013

@Cathy - a medium potato is between 2 inches and 3 inches in diameter and weighs about 6 ounces.

on January 2, 2013

I use on my baked potato fat free sour cream, spray no calorie fake butter, turkey bacon and no cheese. But I measure it all out. Should be ok if you allow yourself the calories and such from the items.

on January 2, 2013

Cheers to the potato! I reconnected with the pototo in the last year realizong I was missing out on some good nutrition. I like to boil them and top with a little salt and pepper and maybe a small bit of butter if I have some wiggle room in the days consumption.

on January 2, 2013

I put lots of veggies on mine--love broccoli and onions! Also make chipped beef that is yummy and put a bit of that on there and a bit of shredded cheese.

on January 2, 2013

I lived in Denmark for two years, and realized that I had never tasted a potato before. The potatoes there were so incredibly full of flavor. They were sold at grocery stores in a box of dirt. It made me wonder what happened to the ones we eat here, how they ended up so flavorless. Even organically grown potatoes don't have the richness of flavor that the Danish potatoes do. Even our home-grown ones aren't as good. I grew up in the woods, and we had potatoes almost every night for dinner that we had grown in our garden. By spring time the remaining spuds were pretty wrinkled, and had started to grow, but to this day I still love eating a boiled potato, mashed with a fork, with butter, salt and pepper. A table spoon of butter never hurt anyone, and it sure does a potato good.

on January 2, 2013

I LOVE baked potato with Green Giant broccoli and cheese on top!! Basic meal in one and low WW points plus too!!! YUM!!

on January 2, 2013

Lisa, You ARE a great writer and an inspiration. I have maintained my goal weight with WW for almost three years now. A 5 ounce baked Yukon potato with one Laughing Cow wedge and a Broccoli & Cheese Smart Ones mixed in never fails when I need a satisfying lunch to stick with me; so portable, too! As someone else pointed out, no one ever got fat from eating a baked potato. Thanks for all you do! :-)

on January 2, 2013

Lynne, thanks so much for sharing that article on potatoes! "Are Potatoes that Bad?" supported Snack Girl's already reasonable-sounding opinion with medical facts. I especially liked how they linked the Satiety Index (surprisingly different from the GI!); I can't wait to read more about that.

Also, Snack Girl: I totally agree with Zennifer that the voice you write with is relatable and energetic. Thanks for all you do!

on January 2, 2013

Which greek yogurt do you recommend?


on January 2, 2013

A few years ago I had a severe potassium deficiency combined with dental problems that kept me from being able to chew. Potatoes saved my life! Literally! I cubed and cooked them in water with boullion, then drained most of the water, and mashed them. I usually added a mixture of roasted red bell peppers & garlic that I blended in my Magic Bullet, which was absolutely delicious.

on January 2, 2013

Do you cook them on low I assume?

on January 2, 2013

I like mine with black beans, shredded cheese and tomatoes or salsa. This is my go-to meal when extremely physically active as it helps with potassium and sodium loss in sweat (I live in Florida and sweat a lot here).

on January 2, 2013

Mmmmm...potatoes. My favourite are purple potatoes which seem to be hard to come by, but when I find them I load up!! I was lucky as a child, my parents grew a huge garden and potatoes were a staple that we over wintered (including carrots). A word of warning, eating only organic potatoes (including sweet potatoes and yams) as the non-organic variety are sprayed with a nasty product called Bud Nip which prevents the potatoes from sprouting eyes; sprouted eyes on potatoes do not hurt, just cut them away. This is a very toxic chemical that binds to every cell in the potatoe and can't be scrubbed away.

on January 3, 2013

It's weird that you say that one can survive on potatoes with milk and butter only, and then go on to not recommend them.

I'll keep repeating myself - pastured/grass-fed whole milk (preferably raw) and butter are HEALTHY! Full of healthy fats! Vitamins A and D (D is SO VERY, VERY important!). Our ancestors craved and survived with lots of milk and butter. They were valuable. If they didn't have them, they traded for them.

If you serve a potato with veggies or salsa, you are just going to pee all those beautiful nutrients right out. You need a healthy fat to help you body assimilate the vitamins and nutrients.

on January 3, 2013

Just for clarification... you put the scrubbed, poked, aluminum foil wrapped potatoes in the crock pot for 7 hrs on low.... without any water on the bottom of the pot? And this doesn't damage the stoneware? Or is it a different type of pot? The idea sounds great, but I don't want to ruin my crock pot.

on January 3, 2013

Cristina, I agree. I usually add cheese to mine but butter works too. Plus I make a mashed potato and rutabega combination when only mashed stuff will do to which I add only butter, salt and pepper.

on January 4, 2013

I love the chewy skin on oven-baked potatoes; will I get that in a slow cooker if I don't wrap them in foil?

on January 6, 2013

I talked to our RD at work and she said the media is bogus! Potatoes are healthy and a potato is not the same or just as bad as chips or fries! Potatoes are healthy esp when lightly seasoned and not gooped fat laden toppings. Glad someone like you is spreading the word!

on January 11, 2013

I'm a potato fan! For healthy baked potatoes I like olive oil & roasted garlic, or salsa, avocado & Greek yogurt. Spouse like wasabi & soy sauce on his!

Have you tried the Hasselback style? I love those with just olive oil & seasoning, and sometimes a little parmesan is good too!

on January 12, 2013

So many ideas.. Can't wait to try the crock pot one!! Never thought of that.. I did/do WW... even though potatoes have points, I did not count them. Of course, I did not "load" my veggie either... Serving size of butter or sour cream, and salt/pepper.. I figure, eating a potatoe was better than eating a larger portion of meat or side of something else.. It works for me. Some great ideas here..

on January 13, 2013

My fave way with potatoes - cut into dice, and steam them. They cook quickly, and sprinkle a few fresh herbs on them - presto! The potatoes are finished. Learned this trick in a low glycemic cookbook.

on January 22, 2013

OMG having a LOADED WHITE potato occasionally is SO unhealthy! *gasp*


Unless you're allergic to or hate potatoes in general...

Having a loaded potato every once in a while isn't going to freaking kill you.

All white breads are NOT processed. Heck even wheat bread can be processed.

If the food is ORGANIC, NON-GMO verified, & USDA verified, then it is NOT processed. That goes for all foods in general.

Snack Girl, you should really read the labels more carefully and do more research on food before giving out ignorant advice on something you clearly didn't/don't know anything about.

Just my 2 cents.

on May 23, 2013

Jenn- you wrote "All white breads are NOT processed. Heck even wheat bread can be processed. If the food is ORGANIC, NON-GMO verified, & USDA verified, then it is NOT processed. That goes for all foods in general."

Perhaps you're defining "processed" in a different way than I am, but my understanding is that -- save for produce/nuts/beans pulled from the ground/plants and washed -- almost all food is processed in some way. To that end, the food industry defines five levels of food processing.… gives the summary:


In an attempt to unbundle all processed foods, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) recently developed a scale defining different levels of processing. Researchers then applied data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to understand which types of processed foods Americans are eating and what nutrients they derive from these foods.

IFIC defines 5 levels of processing:

Minimally processed: bagged salads, roasted nuts, milk, chicken and beef

Foods processed for preservation and freshness: canned tuna, frozen fruits, milk, and 100% juice

Combined foods: tomato sauce, spice mixes, and dressings

Ready-to-eat (RTE) foods: cereal, flavored oatmeal, nut butters, cheese, carbonated beverages, granola, lunchmeats, candy, and bread

Foods packaged to stay fresh: prepared deli foods, and frozen meals


That list defines bread (a "Ready To Eat" food) as taking their fourth-highest level of processing, so I respectfully disagree with your claim that "[bread] is NOT processed."

(This (and the fact that baking is only 8,000-10,000 years old (a relatively recent development on the human time scale), is why I strive to avoid it whenever possible. I think humans and proto-humans got along just fine without it for many millennia and can continue to get along without it.)

In my view, Snack Girl tries very hard to publish information about healthy eating and I think that she will get a lot of agreement that foods, er, "foods" that are more highly processed are less healthy.

on May 24, 2013

your ideas are FABULOUS! I don't think if you eat a potato occasionally will kill us!

I love baked potatoes and eat them occasionally. Remember variety is the key! My mom once was on a diet and lost like 30lbs. and her doctor told her to eat a baked potato every day. with a little milk and salt and pepper. It worked.

Keep up the good work, Lisa my diet would be boring without you to change it around!

on July 17, 2013

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