The perfect potato

Potatoes are packed with nutrition — whether they’re “good for you” depends on what you put on them.

Hot potato!: A medium potato is about 110 calories, contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol, but does contain fiber, magnesium and antioxidants.

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

It’s summer, it’s hot, but you may want something more than salad. What’s for dinner? A quick meal — a stuffed potato.

Potatoes are more than carbs, a word that frequently strikes terror in the ears of a dieter. But in fact, a medium potato is about 110 calories, contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol, contains more potassium than a banana, supplies nearly one-half of your daily requirement of vitamin C, is a good source of Vitamin B6, and contains fiber, magnesium and antioxidants. Potatoes are nutritious; whether they’re “good for you” or not may depend on what you put on them. Choose toppings wisely, if you are counting calories.

Microwave Idaho or russet potatoes for about 10 minutes or until done when pierced with knife. Split the potatoes in half lengthwise, squeeze the potato ends together to loosen the insides, and top with leftover chopped ham, chopped chicken, salami, tuna, bacon bits, roasted garlic and olive oil, chopped broccoli, corn, chopped onion, plain yogurt, sour cream, baked beans, cottage cheese, shredded cheeses or fresh herbs. Sometimes you can just shop your refrigerator for easy fixings.

If you have the inclination to turn on the oven briefly, microwave the potatoes first and try some of the following twice “baked” potatoes. They are relatively easy to make and clean up.

TWICE “BAKED” POTATOES

4 baking potatoes

Scrub potatoes and prick them with a fork in several places.

Microwave them until done — when a knife can easily pierce them.

Cool slightly (so as not to handle a hot potato!)

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out pulp into a bowl, leaving ¼-inch of the potato shell.

Then Choose Your Filling:

COTTAGE CHEESE FILLING

Potato pulp from 4 baking potatoes

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

½ cup onion, chopped

¾ cup cottage cheese

1 egg

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Paprika

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Scoop potato pulp into a bowl and add 1 Tbsp. butter. Mash slightly.

Saute the onion until transparent in the other tablespoon of butter, and add to the potatoes, along with the cottage cheese, egg and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.

Beat until smooth but not pasty.

Spoon and heap mixture into empty shells.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and paprika.

Arrange filled potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet in the middle of the oven, and bake for 15–20 minutes.

CHEDDAR AND MUSHROOM FILLING

Potato pulp from 4 baking potatoes

4 Tbsp. butter, divided

8 oz. mushrooms, chopped well, and their juices

3 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped

1 tsp. dried mustard

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Scoop potato pulp into a bowl and add 1 Tbsp. butter. Mash slightly.

Saute mushrooms in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter until mushrooms are cooked, and add to the potatoes, along with the chives, mustard and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Beat until smooth but not pasty.

Spoon and heap mixture into empty shells.

Sprinkle tops with extra cheese, if desired.

Arrange filled potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for 15–20 minutes.

BACON AND CHEESE FILLING

Potato pulp from 4 baking potatoes

1 Tbsp. butter

½ cup milk

1 egg

1 cup of your favorite cheese, shredded

5 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Scoop potato pulp into a bowl and add 1 Tbsp. butter. Mash slightly.

Add the milk, egg and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Beat until smooth but not pasty.

Spoon and heap mixture into empty shells.

Sprinkle tops with Parmesan cheese and paprika.

Arrange filled potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet in the middle of the oven, and bake for 15–20 minutes.

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)

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