JEFF TIEDEMAN: Meat and tatersThese foods fit a healthy diet — in moderation
Have you ever sat down and seriously thought about what food is your favorite?
If asked, I would be hard pressed to choose mine. Some days, I might proclaim baked pheasant with wild rice dressing the best. Another time, a fettuccine with shrimp and pesto dish that we occasionally have would take top honors. And there have been occasions that something as simple a pot of homemade vegetable soup has taken my fancy.
But the truth be told, I would be remiss not to mention that meat-and-potatoes meals have a special place in my heart — and at our dining room table.
While I’ve moderated my red meat consumption over the past several years, that’s not to say my love of meat and potatoes has waned.
We grew up on meat and potatoes. Veggies were mostly just a side. We would have the two together at least three times a week. This was especially true in the cold winter months, when a healthy dose of meat and taters was comforting.
On Sundays, we always had either a roast (beef or pork) or chicken along with mashed potatoes and gravy. Most weeks Mom also fixed a meatloaf, with bakers, of course. Once in a while, we’d have french fries with hamburgers. And occasionally, Dad used to make fried potatoes to go along with some sort of meat.
A lot of people I know who grew up in the 1950s and ’60s can relate, especially those who lived on a farm, where folks raised much of their own food.
I don’t believe that the concept of a meat-and-potatoes meal has completely fallen by the wayside. Just recently, I helped with the cooking at a party where the main course was a blueberry buffalo stew that was served on buns. Among the other things on the menu was Therese’s homemade potato salad.
When our grandson, Rakeem, joins us for dinner, a favorite of his is homemade sausage with mashed potatoes (with whole-kernel corn on the side). Another is burgers with some sort of spuds, particularly oven fries. (Fix these by slicing raw potatoes into strips. Then drizzle them with olive or canola oil, spread them on a baking sheet and cook them at 425 degrees for 20 to 35 minutes, depending on their thickness.)
While more people, including our family, try to have meals these days that might be heavy on vegetables and fruit (multiple studies have show they reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer) and with meat as a side, I do believe that those who say meat and potatoes are unhealthy are wrong.
The amount of cholesterol in beef is similar to that in chicken and fish. It’s the fat in meat that is the culprit when it comes to heart disease. And meat is a good source of protein and the minerals zinc and iron.
Similarly, potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates. (Carbs are not fattening; excess calories are fattening. Consistently overeating french fries or butter-filled baked potatoes can be fattening, but so can overeating any food.) Potatoes also are nutrient-rich, a natural source of potassium and vitamin C. On their own, potatoes are fat-free and contain no cholesterol or sodium.
But the bottom line is all foods fit — in moderation.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.