Autumn Meal Hack: Potato Boats

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At some point along your newsfeed scroll, zucchini boats undoubtedly make an appearance with a #meatlessmonday tagline. Zucchini boats, similar to avocado toast, master the all-in-one dinner hack as an efficient option for busy nights. Despite a nationwide appearance on Superbowl Sunday however, potato skins don’t always gain the same praise.

Potatoes, whether mashed, fried, or baked, are often considered a classic comfort dish alongside mac n’ cheese. Potatoes, including the most popular varieties like russet, fingerling, white, and sweet, receive a questionable reputation given our culture’s misinformed fear of starch.

Despite this reputation, potatoes offer an impressive nutritional resume. Potatoes pack a multitude of vitamins and minerals including phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, and B vitamins. Another benefit, and perhaps the most appealing when compared to other starches, is potatoes’ content of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a specific type of fiber found only in certain plant foods like legumes and grains.

As the name suggests, resistant starch resists digestion. This characteristic makes these starches available as a prebiotic food source for the friendly bacteria lining your digestive tract.1 This digestive benefit not only helps to improve the overall health of your gut microflora, but may also help those who experience stomach discomfort from disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Now that you’re convinced, let’s use these nutritional powerhouses as a vehicle for your favorite weeknight recipes:

Prep Your Base

Simply scrub your potatoes under running water, slice lengthwise and coat with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes, or until tender. If you don’t have the time, microwave your potatoes for a quick alternative. Take note: the percentage of resistant starch can decrease significantly when potatoes are cooked. Avoid the loss by cooling your cooked potatoes for a few hours after baking. #TTPTip: prep a few potatoes at once and leave refrigerated for easy meal access during the week.

The Perfect Middle

Slice your potatoes lengthwise and scoop some, but not all, of the middle. Don’t throw away the potato flesh just yet. Place your potato halves in the oven on broil for 5 minutes to crisp the outside. In a large saucepan, add your favorite chopped veggies (I like broccoli and bell peppers) and ground turkey meat (or tofu, for my vegan readers) Sauté the mix using olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and your favorite store-bought (or homemade) tomato sauce.

Assemble and Serve

Once the potato halves are crisp and your filling is ready, fill your boats. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese (or a dairy-free alternative) and bake until tops are golden. PS- You can make these ahead and freeze for a quick weeknight meal option. Simply freeze your filled boats and when you’re ready to serve, defrost and put in a 400-degree oven for 10-15 minutes to warm.

Reference:

  1. Bird ARBrown ILTopping DL. Starches, resistant starches, the gut microflora and human health. Curr Issues Intest Microbiol. 2000 Mar;1(1):25-37.

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