Chips. Fries. Wedges.
Whatever you want to call them, it’s hard to deny that crispy baked potatoes are pretty delicious.
Potatoes are perhaps one of my favourite foods. Not only can they be cooked up in a variety of different ways, they’re also incredibly nutritious and can be paired with almost any food.
It may come as a surprise to hear about potatoes being nutritious, but trust me, they are. Due to the increased trend in low-carb diets, the humble potato has fallen out of favour over the years, with common misconceptions that they are ‘fattening’ or ‘too high in starch’.
The reality is that potatoes are possibly one of the most nutritious foods we can eat. As part of a well-balanced wholefoods plant based diet, potatoes can actually play a huge role in keeping us healthy and fighting disease.
Potatoes form quite a big part of my diet and I eat them at least a couple of times a week, if not more. You can eat them boiled, steamed, roasted or mashed, but my favourite way is to make them into oil-free baked fries.
I’m so excited to actually share how I make these awesome oil-free baked fries with you all. 🙂
Potatoes – Nutritional Profile
According to Medical News Today, a 100g serving (just over half a medium potato), contains:
- 94 calories
- 0.15g fat
- 21g carbohydrate
- 2.1g fibre
- 2.1g protein
- 10ml calcium
- 27g magnesium
- 544mg potassium
- 12.6mg Vitamin C
- 38mg folate.
Different varieties of potato will provide varying levels of these nutrients, but it’s safe to say that casual white potatoes are a bit of a powerhouse.
They are also extremely low in sodium, which can be great for those prone to water retention or bloating.
A lot of people believe that a potato contains mostly starch, but this isn’t quite true. Approximately 70-80% of a potato’s weight is made up of water.
Benefits of Potatoes
When we eat potatoes, we can actually look forward to a whole host of health benefits.
- Improved digestion. Thanks to their high fibre content, potatoes can help to keep the digestive tract moving and reduce water retention.
- Contribution to bone health. Because of their high mineral content such as calcium, phosphorous and zinc, potatoes help to keep our bones healthy. They also contain the ideal calcium-to-phosphorous ratio, which is important for adequate bone mineralisation.
- Improved blood pressure, due to potassium content and low sodium (apart from when high blood pressure is caused by diabetes).
- Reduced inflammation due to their choline content. Low inflammation in the body promotes good mood, memory and learning, as well as muscle movement and recovery.
- Cancer fighting. The folate in potatoes plays a significant role in DNA synthesis and repair.
- Help with weight management. The high carbohydrate content of potatoes helps with increased satiety without consuming too many calories.
- Metabolic health. The vitamin B6 in potatoes helps with breaking down carbohydrates efficiently into glucose and essential amino acids.
- Skin health. The vitamin C content helps with collagen production and and prevents damage caused by sun, pollution and smoke.
Because potatoes are high in carbohydrates, they make a brilliant energy source and help keep glucose levels stable. This helps to maintain brain efficiency, keeping cognitive activity and performance high.
Regular intake of fibre can also help to lower cholesterol over time, and improve the function of insulin in the body.
What about the high GI?
A big reason people avoid potatoes is because of their high GI.
A food’s GI score indicates how quickly that food is broken down by the body into sugar. The higher the score, the faster the food is broken down.
Many varieties of potato have have a GI score of 80 or above. This means many people assume they are not suitable for those trying to lose weight, diabetics or those on a low-carbohydrate diet.
However, even the diabetes.org website acknowledges that:
- Not all low-GI foods (like chocolate) are healthy choices. So, by this same token, not all high-GI foods are unhealthy choices.
- Combining foods alters the GI of an overall meal. So, when you pair potatoes with some healthy fats and protein, the absorption of the sugar is slowed down.
- Eating to control diabetes isn’t just about GI ratings. Diabetics are told to ‘eat for the bigger picture’ and choose foods that are low in saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Potatoes meet all of these criteria!
- Cooking methods also affect GI. For example, boiling potatoes lowers the GI, whilst the dry heat of baking can actually increase the concentration of sugars. Cutting up potatoes also preserves their starchiness, more so than baking them whole (PrecisionNutrition.com).
When it comes to weight loss, things get interesting. Many people have had huge success losing weight whilst eating potatoes, and have documented their results. Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, went on a potato-only diet for two months in 2010. In the first three weeks he lost 12Ibs, and lost another 9Ibs after that. His reports were that he’d “never felt so stuffed”.
Foodie vlogger and YouTuber High Carb Hannah also credited her ‘potato cleanse’ diet for a large part of her weight loss.
But of course you don’t need to go to such extreme lengths to lose weight…or enjoy the benefits of potatoes. The point of these experiments is that potatoes are satiety-boosting and less fat promoting than low-carb advocates claim them to be.
Why No Oil?
As many of you may already know, I don’t use oil in most of my cooking or baking.
You absolutely can use oil in your potatoes if you want, as there is no hard-and-fast way. I just prefer to leave oil out of my food so that I can fill up more on other nutrient-dense ingredients.
Baking potatoes over frying them also helps to maintain their vitamin C content, as when fried, 75% of vitamin C is lost.
Eating french fries in moderation absolutely won’t do you any harm (I definitely do!). But when eating potatoes more regularly, I like to make them like this, so I can indulge more in other things.
The idea of making fries or chips without oil definitely isn’t a new one. Many vegan and/or high-carb bloggers and foodies have been making them this way for years, such as Loni Jane, That Vegan Couple, Brand New Vegan, From my Bowl and This Rawsome Vegan Life.
However, I’m excited to share my version here, in the hope that I may be able to convince others to try the magic of oil-free fries!
Oil-Free Oven Baked Chips Recipe
The best potatoes for making chips or fries are usually the waxy type. My favourite are Maris Pipers.
I don’t always manage to find organic potatoes, but if you can get your hands on them then I would recommend it, as the flavour will be richer. Potatoes were also on this year’s Dirty Dozen list so it’s preferable to buy them organic.
And finally, I like to peel my potatoes, but you can always leave the skin on for maximum nutrients. Most of potatoes’ nutrients lie just beneath the skin.
- Any number of medium waxy potatoes you like (Maris Pipers, King Edwards or Yukon Golds are best).
- Salt & pepper
- Any other herbs and seasonings you like (see below for ideas).
- Preheat the oven to 230°C.
- Wash and peel the potatoes (or leave the skin on and just remove any dark spots).
- Cut the potatoes into wedges or long rectangular ‘fries’.
- Spread the chips/fries out on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. You may need more than one tray if baking a lot of potatoes.
- Season the potatoes with salt and pepper, and any other herbs/spices you’re using.
- Bake the potatoes at the top of the oven for 20 minutes, then flip. You may need to use your hands or a knife to carefully flip each potato and ensure it doesn’t break when it peels away from the baking paper.
- Bake for another 20 minutes, then serve.
I love to eat my potatoes plain, with a bit of salt and pepper. However, you can dress them up with a range of herbs and spices. Some ideas include:
- Smoked paprika
- Peri-peri spice mix
- Garlic or garlic salt
- Anything else you can think of!
I hope you guys enjoy this oil-free baked fries recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments below, and if you make them be sure to tag me on Instagram – #everythingspeachy.