Healthy eating

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 September, 2010, 12:00am

Here's the real deal:

-Potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates, which are essential for providing energy.

-They are high in fibre - a baked potato provides almost 12 per cent of a person's daily requirements for this nutrient. Fibre is needed to maintain a healthy digestive system, preventing constipation and lowering the chances of developing colon cancer later in life.

-Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin C and were eaten by English sailors in the 19th century to prevent scurvy, a life-threatening illness. Eaten with the skin on, a medium-sized potato provides 27mg of vitamin C, which is nearly a half of a person's daily need.

-They are a good source of other vitamins and minerals such as folate, vitamin B6, potassium and copper.

Vitamin B6 is needed to make both the hormone adrenaline, which helps us to deal with stress, and neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which not only help deliver messages from one cell to another in the body but also aid us in regulating our moods.

Folate and copper are essential nutrients in the production of healthy blood cells while potassium is important for the proper functioning of all cells and organs in the body.

-Potatoes are really versatile. They can be eaten on their own or combined with other ingredients to make a hearty supper dish like this cottage pie.

Food factfile: Potatoes

Many of us think potatoes are high in carbs, fattening and an unhealthy food choice. That's not really surprising given that most people eat potatoes either deep-fried as crisps and French fries or laden with oil, butter, cream or sour cream. However, the humble boiled or baked potato is a nutritious food that is low in calories. Did you know a boiled new potato contains only 26 calories?

Cottage pie

A classic British dish made with minced beef - not to be confused with shepherd's pie which is made with minced lamb.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

1 tablespoon oil

1 large onion finely chopped

1 large carrot, diced

500g lean mince beef

1 tablespoon flour

375ml beef stock

1 bay leaf

2 heaped tablespoons tomato pur?e

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping

750g potatoes, (4 medium) peeled and chopped

50g low-fat spread

50ml semi-skimmed milk


Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook over a medium heat until soft.

Turn up the heat, add the mince and brown for 5-7 minutes. Add the flour; stir.

Add the beef stock, bay leaf, tomato pur?e and Worcestershire sauce.

Cover, and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season.

Make the topping by boiling the potatoes until soft. Drain and mash with the butter and milk. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the meat into an ovenproof dish. Top with the mash and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Wynnie Chan is a British-trained nutritionist. She answers readers' food questions in Sunday Young Post



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