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Embrace the humble spud

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

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JANUARY is a hard month to love. The coffers are bare, winter is in full swing and calorific treats are off the menu as the nation tries to combat the traditional post-festive bloat.

Thankfully, the humble potato goes some way to addressing these concerns. Not only is it a cheap cupboard staple which is easy to cook, it has the starchiness we crave on cold nights and experts say it's good for our health, too.

Despite popular opinion steering us away from carbohydrates, spuds are naturally fat-free, low in calories and a good source of fibre, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B6.

In fact, a recent study found eating a portion of potatoes twice a day can lower blood pressure, and a separate study claimed potatoes provide more health benefits than so-called "superfoods" like banana, broccoli, beetroot, nuts and avocado.

Sian Porter, consultant dietician to the Potato Council, said: "It is important to have a wide variety of foods in your diet and to include at least five different portions of fruit and veg a day, but sometimes our heads are turned by new things and we underestimate old favourites like potatoes and how they compare to other, often more expensive, 'superfoods'."

So whether you're mashing, baking or boiling, it's high time to fall back in love with the trusty spud.

And, if you have ever wondered which of the many varieties of potato are best for different dishes, here's a guide to the new potato classification system by manyfacesofpotatoes.co.uk

Fluffy: Typical varieties are Maris Piper or King Edward. When cooked it has a fluffy middle, but don't boil them for long as they don't hold together well. Use them for making family favourites such as roasties, jackets or chips.

Smooth: Typical varieties include Desiree. When cooked this tatty has a smooth texture. Try as mash, wedges or boiled – or cooked in a sauce, such as dauphinoise or a hot pot.

Salad: Typical varieties are Charlotte or Maris Peer. When cooked it feels firm to the bite and they taste great simply prepared in their skin. Try them in salads or served as an accompaniment boiled, steamed or roasted whole.

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