I frequently host friends for dinner and if there is one thing I have learned, it is the importance of having reliable side dish recipes at hand. I love to experiment with the main meal; however, when doing so, I find it to be safest when it is paired with a more traditional side. This is most important when cooking for people who tend to be more conservative with what they eat.
White potatoes are not the enemy
As discussed in my fish cake recipe and my article about Paleo 2.0, the word is now out that white potatoes are usually a very healthy source of carbs and shouldn’t be feared. In fact, obtaining to bulk of your carbohydrates from starchy vegetables instead of fruits is healthier because starch gets digested as pure glucose, while most fruits are half fructose, which easily becomes toxic. White potatoes are also very nutritive and are not at all devoid of vitamins and minerals. Think mainly of potassium, vitamin C and cooper.
One of the reasons why white potatoes have been shunned by a lot of people in the Paleo diet community before is because of some of the toxins found in them like the saponins solanine and chaconine. It’s important to note though that all vegetables create natural pesticidal toxins in order to protect themselves. This is why eating a diet that is diversified in plant matter is a good idea. The trick with potatoes is that most of the toxins are in the skin and can therefore be easily avoided. This is also why I always recommend to peel your potatoes.
It’s not rare to hear about people who can’t tolerate sweet potatoes very well while they have no problems with regular white potatoes.
Of course, there are always exceptions and some people will find that they do better if they greatly limit their carbohydrate/starch consumption. It’s often the case for people with highly damaged metabolisms or people with bacterial overgrowth issues. Most people can return to a healthy consumption of 100 to 150 grams of carbohydrates per day once they regain health.
I have for you a very simple yet delicious pesto mashed potato recipe. You can make this really easy by using store-bought pesto, as long as the ingredients are all natural and only olive oil is used; however, I would highly recommend making your own homemade basil pesto. There is no better time of year to make a large batch of fresh pesto than in the summer, when fresh basil is abundant and cheap. Basil is also really easy to grow in a little home garden. Every spring I plant way more basil than I will ever need just because I love to make as much pesto as I possibly can to last me during the winter months. It is so easy to do a very large batch and it freezes very well. I am sure you have seen or heard it before, but I will mention it anyways because it was one of the best tips I ever received; freeze your pesto is large ice cube trays. Once frozen, store them in freezable bags and you can easily use just the amount you need without having to thaw too much.
So it’s now time to stop worrying and love white potatoes:
Pesto mashed potato recipe
Serves 6, as a side
- 6-8 potatoes, peeled;
- 2 tbsp paleo cooking fat like coconut oil, butter or tallow;
- 2 cloves garlic, minced;
- A few splashes of heavy cream or coconut milk;
- 4-6 tbsp pesto;
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;
- In a large saucepan, boil potatoes until soft. I always cube my potatoes prior to boiling because they cook faster and are easier to mash afterwards.
- Once soft, strain the potatoes. In the same saucepan over a low heat, melt the cooking fat and add the minced garlic. Allow it to sit for a few moments in order for the flavors of the garlic to diffuse into the cooking fat.
- Place the potatoes back in the saucepan and begin to mash. Pour in the heavy cream or coconut milk as needed. Be sure not to add too much, as it is very easy to dilute the other flavors. Alternatively, you can also simply use more of your chosen cooking fat instead of cream or coconut milk, it’ll make for an even richer side dish.
- Once fully mashed, add the pesto. The amount will depend on how strong you would like to the pesto flavor to be. Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste.