Short days, long nights, and cold temps can result in a serious case of the winter doldrums—which can result in a serious diet disaster. Winter is notorious for comfort foods—warm, creamy, rich, delicious foods that are long on flavor, but short on nutritional value. We crave rich, carbohydrate-laden foods, such as mashed potatoes, when we’re hunkered down by the fire waiting for spring’s distant arrival.
And they’re not called comfort foods for nothing—rich, creamy mashed potatoes do offer a sense of comfort, satiety, and satisfaction on a cold night that no salad can provide. The good news is you don’t have to resist your cravings for comfort food to maintain a healthy diet—just give those mashed potatoes a simple makeover and dig in.
Mashed Potato Basics
Let’s face it—a plain potato is pretty bland, which is why we tend to add delicious, rich ingredients to make mashed potatoes. The potato provides the texture and the base, but the other ingredients add the tantalizing flavor. Most traditional mashed potatoes are loaded with butter and heavy cream, making them delicious but also loaded with extra calories and fat.
There are several other ways to add flavor and creaminess without the additional fat and calories. Typically, you’ll want to add some liquid for creaminess and some seasoning for flavor.
Think outside of the box—or outside of the cow, if you will. Milk and heavy cream are not the only liquid options for mashed potatoes. Some other options:
- Vegetable stock
- Chicken stock
- Plain yogurt
- Low-fat buttermilk
- Olive oil
If you think eliminating butter and heavy cream will leave you pining for more flavor, consider adding fresh herbs or other seasonings. Salt is not the only way to season mashed potatoes. Some alternatives:
- Roasted garlic
- Green onions
- Dry mustard
If you really want to make over your mashed potatoes, get creative and consider a mashed blend. Adding other seasonal vegetables will add flavor and additional nutrients to your dish. Simply simmer the other vegetables along with the potatoes and then mash together. Delicious options include:
There’s no reason to avoid comfort foods this winter. Get creative in the kitchen and find a mashed potato blend that is satisfying, nourishing, delicious—and healthy. Bon apetit!