Remember baked potatoes? I'll admit I almost forgot about them amidst the grain-bowl carb-swap cauliflower craze. Baked potatoes are the ultimate comfort food—starchy and warm and filling, they're the perfect antidote to a chilly autumn night. It’s amazing how something so wholesome, so available and inexpensive could be so delicious too. But it’s true. And they're also really good for you.
What about the carbs, you say? I say, what about them, indeed! I’ll admit, I too avoided potatoes for a long time. But no more. I will have my baked spuds and eat the skin too. Here’s why: Potatoes are rich in vitamin C (good for keeping your immune system healthy) and potassium (good for healthy blood pressure) and offer some fiber, especially when eaten with the skin on. And according to my trusty nutrition sources here at EatingWell, eating more fiber will help you lose weight—and keep it off. All of that for about 50 cents per potato! Is that a bargain or what?
In fact, the problem with most baked potatoes isn’t even the potato itself, but the gobs of butter, sour cream and other not-so-healthy toppings people load onto it. So let’s get back to basics and have baked spuds for dinner tonight! Here are 10 healthier—and super-flavorful—toppings to try.
1. Prep: Scrub 1 medium russet potato per person and pierce in several places with a fork.
2. Cook the potato:
In the microwave: Place the potatoes in the microwave and cook on Medium, turning once or twice, until soft, about 20 minutes. (Or use the “potato” setting on your microwave and cook according to the manufacturer’s directions.)
In the oven: Bake potatoes directly on the center rack in a 400°F oven until tender, 45 to 60 minutes.
3. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, make two cuts in the top to form a cross, then squeeze the sides to make a little bowl for your toppings.
½ cup cooked broccoli florets; 3 tablespoons heated diced ham; 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt; ¼ cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
¼ cup chopped zucchini cooked with ¼ cup canned no-salt-added diced tomatoes and ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning; ¼ cup shredded Italian-blend cheese
½ cup red and/or yellow cherry tomatoes roasted in 2 teaspoons olive oil; ¼ cup cottage cheese; 1 teaspoon snipped fresh chives
2 slices cooked bacon; ¼ avocado; 2 tablespoons salsa; 2 tablespoons shredded Colby Jack cheese
2 ounces lean ground beef cooked with ⅓ cup sliced mushrooms and 3 tablespoons pasta sauce; 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon low-fat ranch dressing; 2 teaspoons chopped scallions
1 tablespoon prepared pesto; 1 chopped small plum tomato
1 tablespoon reduced-fat sour cream mixed with 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon pureed low-fat cottage cheese; 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon refried beans; 1 tablespoon prepared tomato salsa; 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
Related: 6 Reasons You Should Be Eating Carbs