This has been a difficult and challenging year (last year was no picnic, either), so desire and time for this blog has been short. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t still be making some yummy things!
This Thanksgiving, I spent the holiday with my mom. (Her health, never very strong, has taken a most definite dive for the worse this year.) We actually had two Thanksgivings — one on the day, with ham, green bean casserole, spaghetti squash, and cornbread (which we used the next day for dressing). I did ham on Thanksgiving for a few reasons: 1) it was easy, 2) it gave the kids and grandkids a different meal to eat after the turkey meal eaten at my in-law’s, 3) it added some ham leftovers for ham sandwiches into the leftover mix, and 4) it gave us a delicious ham bone to freeze later for beans.
On the Friday after Thanksgiving, we hosted what we informally call “Thanksgiving II,” which we also shared with two dear friends of ours. This was the more traditional Thanksgiving meal and included Mashed Potatoes.
Potatoes have gotten a bad rap, bless their little eyes. ;-) Chris Voigt, head of the Washington State Potato Commission, got so fed up with all the trash talk about potatoes that he went on a potato-only diet for two months — and lost 21 pounds eating 20 potatoes a day!
As Wikipedia tells us:
The potato contains vitamins and minerals, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and natural phenols. Chlorogenic acid constitutes up to 90% of the potato tuber natural phenols. Others found in potatoes are 4-O-caffeoylquinic (crypto-chlorogenic acid), 5-O-caffeoylquinic (neo-chlorogenic acid), 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic and 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acids. A medium-size 150 g (5.3 oz) potato with the skin provides 27 mg of vitamin C (45% of the Daily Value (DV)), 620 mg of potassium (18% of DV), 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (10% of DV) and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium,phosphorus, iron, and zinc. The fiber content of a potato with skin (2 g) is equivalent to that of many whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals.
In terms of nutrition, the potato is best known for its carbohydrate content (approximately 26 grams in a medium potato). The predominant form of this carbohydrate is starch. A small but significant portion of this starch is resistant to digestion by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine, and so reaches the large intestine essentially intact. This resistant starch is considered to have similar physiological effects and health benefits as fiber: It provides bulk, offers protection against colon cancer, improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, increases satiety, and possibly even reduces fat storage. The amount of resistant starch in potatoes depends much on preparation methods. Cooking and then cooling potatoes significantly increases resistant starch. For example, cooked potato starch contains about 7% resistant starch, which increases to about 13% upon cooling.
Wanting to simplify the meal as much as possible, I was struck by an idea — why not make mashed potatoes in the slow cooker? I Googled and, after reviewing several recipes, inspired by this recipe:
I decided to give Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes a try.
While I will sometimes peel potatoes when I make mashed potatoes, I usually just scrub them really well and leave the skins on — not only is it faster and easier than peeling them, but it leaves in the nutrition and fiber from the skin. I first had mashed potatoes with the skins at Calico County Restaurant in Lawton, Oklahoma and I found them to be quite tasty.
I’m not too picky about what potatoes I use — I tend to go with whatever I have on hand or what looks good at the store. Red potatoes are a favorite, but I’ve also used Idaho and white potatoes. Last night, I did a mix of red and white potatoes.
I use 1% milk (skim is fine, too) and just a dollop of butter. The amounts depend upon the quantity of potatoes I’m making; I just add it in slowly, bit by bit — remember, you can always add in more, but you can’t take it back out!
These potatoes cook up to be sooo tender that they mash incredibly easily with a potato masher. My mom was shocked at how delicious these potatoes turned out (apparently, she’d had doubts about them but hadn’t said anything beforehand). From now on, if I’m making mashed potatoes for more than just a few folks, I’ll be doing them in the slow cooker! And if you have a slow cooker liner, clean-up will be a breeze, too!
These taste so yummy, you’ll be dancing the mashed potato! (Go on, give it a watch! The first link shows you how to do the dance; the video has the song. You know that watching them and singing and dancing along will do your heart and soul good!)
Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes (Serves 8 – 12, depending upon serving size; I’ve written this up for 3 pounds of potatoes, which is how I made it in my 3 1/2 quart slow cooker; you can increase or decrease based on your needs)
- Approximately 3 pounds of potatoes, scrubbed well
- Margarine or butter (amount depends upon quantity of potatoes, I used about 4 tablespoons or so, DIVIDED)
- Approximately 1 cup chicken stock OR vegetable stock/broth (NOTE: I’ve found that stock has less sodium than reduced sodium broth)
- Milk (1% or skim is fine; amount depends upon quantity of potatoes and how thick — or thin – -you want them)
- Salt and pepper to taste (because I cooked with stock, I didn’t add any salt)
- Scrub the potatoes. Peel them, if desired — I leave the peel on and just cut away any unsavory-looking spots. Cut into good-sized chunks.
- Place a slow cooker liner in your slow cooker, if desired (this will make clean up easier).
- Place prepared potatoes in slow cooker. Pour in approximately 1 cup of stock or broth. Add a tablespoon or two of butter.
- Cover. Cook on high for 4 hours or so.
- Add in more butter (start with another tablespoon or two), some milk (start with just a splash or two), and season with salt and/or pepper as desired. Mash potatoes with a potato masher. (NOTE: If you’re wanting to be fancier with your potatoes, you could also try adding in some light sour cream or fat-free Greek yogurt, some reduced-fat cream cheese, some garlic powder, maybe buttermilk in lieu of milk.)
- Keep warm in slow cooker until ready to serve. Remove to serving dish or serve from slow cooker.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
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