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Potato Power! Healthy Tips and Recipes for the Lunchroom

Every day when the lunch bell rings, you face some of the toughest customers around – your students. They’re hungry and need to be refueled with a tasty and nutritious lunch.  And every day, you can win them over with America’s favorite vegetable – the potato.

There are so many creative, healthy and budget-friendly ways to prepare potatoes–they are the perfect canvas for anything from a splash of colorful vegetables on creamy mashers to simple herbs on crispy oven-roasted spuds.

And as your students are busy pleasing their palates with these dynamic recipes and menu ideas, you can pat yourself on the back  knowing you’ve served up something kid-friendly and something that research shows will help students enjoy all their vegetables!  Don’t forget–one medium, skin-on spud has 110 calories, zero fat, is a good source of potassium and vitamin B6, and is an excellent source of vitamin C.

Potatoes USA is happy to help you get cooking with a treasure trove of creative and healthful potato recipes and industry information on value-added potato products available from U.S. potato growers. With everything from roasted potatoes and baby bakers to zero-trans fat and baked fries available, menu planning just got a whole lot easier.

 

Tricks and Tips for your cafeteria:

Sprinkling vegetables on baked or mashed potatoes is a stealthy way to give kids their five-a-day. The Clarke County School District in Athens, Georgia, puts steamed broccoli and cheese on their baked potatoes for double veggie nutrition that kids eat up.

Replace some or all of the butter in traditional mashed potatoes with broth or condensed skim milk.

Use leftover mashed potatoes—or the latest generation of remarkably versatile dehydrated potatoes—to thicken soups and sauces. You’ll get creamy richness without the fat.

Schools in White House, Tennessee, include diced fajita chicken on their baked potato bars for low-fat protein and high-impact variety.

Kids in St. Paul public schools in Minnesota top their baked potatoes with chili and cheddar to make a delicious, filling lunchtime entrée.

The Littlestown Area School District in Pennsylvania mixes sour cream with low-fat yogurt to cut calories and fat in its baked potato bar selections.

Baby bakers make the perfect kid-sized potato portion. When you serve two of these babies at 3 oz. a piece—instead of a single 6-oz. spud—students feel like they’re getting an even bigger treat.

Make “skinny fries” by tossing potato wedges or French fries with a small amount of vegetable oil and oven-roasting at 450°F until golden brown. (Cooking time will vary for fresh and frozen potatoes.) The kids at Portland, Oregon, public schools love their roasted potato wedges baked with salt and pepper.

Leftover mashers patted into patties and toasted in the oven make great meat-free “burgers” that your students can dress up with all sorts of healthful, tasty toppings.

Keep the jackets on oven-baked potatoes, even when you use them in potato salads. Those skins add eye appeal and pack a lot of nutrients besides.

Potato salads go global! Add a Mexican flair with salsa, taco seasoning and low-fat cheese, or make a pizza potato salad with tomato sauce, mozzarella and dried oregano.

Replace your potato salad’s mayonnaise-based dressing with one using low-fat or nonfat yogurt.

Put roasted potatoes in the salad bar alongside the other salad fixings like they do in the Berkeley Unified School District in California.

Healthful vinaigrettes make great potato salad dressings, too – you can wake up flavor and add tang with anything from vinegar to orange juice to apple cider.

 

Got ideas?  PLEASE, share them below!

 

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