JEFF TIEDEMAN: Sweet versus whiteSome tout sweet potatoes as a healthier alternative to regular potatoes. But a closer look at the two potatoes — actually they belong to completely different vegetable families — reveals they have much in common.
The emphasis on eating healthy often pits one food against another. There’s no doubt that some of the comparisons warrant our attention.
For example, not all rice is created equal. There has been a push in recent years to substitute brown rice for white rice. That’s because white rice loses much of its nutritional value through milling and polishing.
Then, there’s the debate over butter and margarine. Many people turned to margarine as researchers and nutritionists recommended, when the former came under scrutiny for its high levels of saturated fat. But high levels of trans fats in some margarines had people retreating. Now, olive oil and vegetable-based spreads are named as healthier alternatives.
But there are some examples that aren’t as cut and dried. In fact, they’re like comparing apples and oranges. That’s the case with regular potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Some tout sweet potatoes as a healthier alternative to regular potatoes. But a closer look at the two potatoes — actually they belong to completely different vegetable families — reveals they have much in common. Here are the facts:
— In a 100-gram portion, the white potato has 92 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 2.3 grams of dietary fiber, 2.3 grams of protein and 17 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.
— The same amount of sweet potato has 90 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 35 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C and 380 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin A.
— Both also have high levels of antioxidants, although sweet potatoes may offer a bit of an advantage.
I’ve eaten a lot of spuds — both white and sweet — over the years. But when I was growing up, about the only time we had sweet potatoes was at my grandparents’ on the holidays. Now, both are part of my diet. (Have you ever had sweet potato oven fries?)
A big reason I like both kinds of potatoes is that they are so versatile. They can be boiled, baked, microwaved, steamed, fried or roasted — even grilled.
Just in the past week or two, we’ve had both baked, new whites mashed with broccoli and cheese (see recipe at http://chefjeff.areavoices.com/2012/03/26/cheesy-broccoli-potatomash/) and sweets in a hummus made with chickpeas.
I’ve come across a couple of other potato recipes that we hope to try soon, which have piqued my interest.
Crash Hot Potatoes is a recipe from “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier,” by Ree Drummond. A picture of them reminds me of the tasty, crispy, oven-browned, parsley-buttered potatoes we use to have at our school hot lunch in the basement of the old Cathedral High School in Crookston.
The second one — Two Potato Gratin, which can be found at the Mayo Clinic website (www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy recipes/NU00352) — plays no favorites. It combines both kinds of potatoes in a side dish suitable to accompany roasted chicken, pork or beef.
That’s what I call healthy competition.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.