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Category: Health (Page 2 of 5)

Spud Sunday: In Defence Of The Spud

It has come to my attention that there has been a bit of potato-bashing going on.

The latest wave of anti-spuddism arises from a study carried out by Harvard researchers into the dietary habits of around 120,000 health professionals from around the U.S. over a period of 12+ years and published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The aspect of the research which has gained most attention is the finger of blame that is pointed towards potato products when it comes to potential for weight gain. On the basis of increased daily servings, the study finds that people who were in the habit of eating French fries gained, on average, 3.35 lb after four years, while those with a predilection for potato chips (or crisps, in Irish-speak) averaged a 1.69 lb increase. If your extra helpings came in the form of boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes, the increase was a more modest 0.57 lb over the four year period.

Cue articles, such as this one, which tell you the frightening amounts of calories, fats and carbs in your average spud meal and warn that “potatoes are calorie dense, very calorie dense“. Clearly, the article implies, when it comes to spuds and my waistline, I should be afraid, very afraid. The premise and the conclusion are simplistic, to say the least. While potatoes are certainly calorie dense if you douse them in fat, a plain boiled potato (as I have mentioned on these pages before) actually has less calories than the equivalent weight of plain boiled rice, pasta or bread. Nutritionally, too, it has plenty to shout about.

New potato

These, my friends, are not the problem

Other quotes such as this found here are also, I think, unhelpful.

The problem, said study co-author Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, is that “we don’t eat potatoes raw, so it’s easier [for the body] to transform the starch to glucose.”

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Spud Sunday: Vive La Spud

In France and in French cuisine, Parmentier is code for potatoes.

Find a dish adorned with that name and it’s bound to feature potatoes as its main ingredient. Antoine Augustin Parmentier, after whom such dishes are named, is somewhat of a hero when it comes to the potato in France. He was the man who, back in the late 18th century, was chiefly responsible for popularising the consumption of potatoes in that country. These days in Paris you’ll find an avenue and a metro stop which also bear his name. What’s more, if you’re a potato head like me, you’ll skip the Eiffel Tower and pay them a visit instead.

Avenue Parmentier

Avenue Parmentier, 11th Arrondissement, Paris

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Spud Sunday: Souper Food

“I’ve never had a good mushroom soup,” said Kev.

Bejaysus but it was quite the statement with which to launch into a lunchtime conversation at work.

It turns out that most of the people around the table had rather definite opinions on mushroom soup. While I would not, myself, have gone as far as to say that I had never had a good mushroom soup, I’ve certainly had my fair share of bad ones. Brian volunteered that he had once had a good mushroom soup from a packet, Dave that he once had a good mushroom soup experience, but it was somewhere exotic like Thailand. From the point of view of those seeking mushroom soup nirvana, it all sounded pretty grim, frankly. Except for the bit about being in Thailand. It also had the distinct whiff of a challenge, one that would more than likely find me whipping mushrooms and spuds into some kind of soupy frenzy.

gorta soup for life

Cue the return of Gorta’s Soup For Life campaign – where, for one week starting this coming Friday, April 8th, a range of restaurateurs in Dublin and Cork will be donating €1 per bowl of soup sold to fund Gorta’s work in Africa. The making of some decent mushroom soup seemed an appropriate way to follow on from my last year’s soupy contribution to their campaign.

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