Taking the full measure of life

There’s nothing in this world like a good baked potato

October 23rd, 2007 · 13 Comments

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. . . and Alanna at A Veggie Venture has the secret: it’s baking the potato for a long period of time. That’s it? Yep. Well, baking it for a long period of time after giving it a simple treatment of olive oil (I added kosher salt to my rub) and then baking it directly on the rack in the oven. No tin foil, no fork holes, just simple baking . . . for at least 2.5 hours, preferably 3, at 350 degrees. Of course, you want to use an Idaho, or russet, potato–the kind with the thick-ish brown skin. (The British call this type of baked potato a jacket potato, a name I love!)

The slow-baked potato does require you to plan early, but man, it makes for a tasty potato. Cutting into my potato (that had baked for about 2 hours and 45 minutes), I found the skin was crispy, and the inside cut like softened butter on my knife. Delicious–like a really high-quality restaurant potato. Three hours is a long time to cook something, but keep in mind that the last 2 hours and 58 minutes are hands-off easy. Go read Alanna’s post if you want more details.

Like many people, I eschewed baked potatoes for a while as a source of empty calories high on the GI chart. But they aren’t actually empty, especially if you eat that delicious skin. Potatoes are full of potassium (a potato has more potassium than a banana) and high in fiber, and they contain a good dose of Vitamin C, among other nutrients. A small baked potato also has about 1 oz. of protein in it. I find potatoes deliciously satisfying and filling, especially when I include some extra protein in the topping. And, as Alanna says, 1/4 pound of potato (a small potato) weighs in at only 90 cal, or 1 WW point, whereas a big one is likely to be twice that much. 90 to 180 calories for a rich, satisfying base to a meal is completely reasonable.


For those of us who are facing life with no more typical bread, pasta, couscous, etc., it’s great to have a starchy base for a meal that we can load up with toppings like a baked potato.

Of course, it’s the toppings that often truly give baked potatoes a bad name, especially at restaurants. If you eat a 10-oz. steak and a loaded baked potato, you have just loaded yourself up with your whole day’s calorie needs. But a baked potato can be the beginning of a great one-dish meal when you pile veggies and protein on it (you can skip the rest). Here are some toppings that I love to put in/on baked potatoes:

salt and pepper (always)
cheddar cheese
green onions
bacon (for gluten-consuming vegetarians, bits of seitan sauteed in Bragg’s can have a similar appeal)
salad dressing (anything from balsamic to ranch, though I don’t know if this one has universal appeal!)
sour cream (these days I use goat yogurt–runnier than sour cream, but similar otherwise . . . and lower in calories and fat)
butter (or ghee now)
mushrooms, onions, and garlic sauteed in olive oil
creamy soup
broccoli (steamed about 6 min.)
cauliflower (orange cauliflower provides a better color contrast) (also steamed about 6 min.)
grilled steak or chicken
Mrs. Dash (or other garlic-based seasoning)
Swedish meatballs (or vegetarian meatballs, which unfortunately I can no longer eat, but which are truly delicious and way healthier than meat-based ones)
. . . or basically anything else that you would normally eat on or with other types of potatoes (mashed, roasted, or fried)

For the potato in the photo, I added a small amount of ghee, 1 T. goat yogurt, 2/3 cup broccoli, 2 T. grated goat cheddar (which I found at Whole Foods), and 2 crumbled pieces of organic bacon. That was my whole dinner, and I was completely satisfied.

You can get additional ideas for baked potato fillings here and here.

And if you want to add additional veggies to your meal, you can always grill, broil, or roast some vegetable shish kabobs to go alongside.

I think I’ve inspired myself, by the way. My husband and I are going to be trying out different baked potato fillings once every week or two for a while now. I’ll report back. . . .

Tags: allergen-free recipes · baked potato of the week · vegetarian

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jen // Oct 24, 2007 at 5:52 am

    Ah…the oft eschewed potato! We love them as well, and my husband frequently requests my roasted herb potatoes to accompany our meals. Your choice of small potatoes (reds, whites, fingerlings, blues, etc.), cut into even smaller cubes, a little olive oil and an array of herbs and spices. (Let me know if you want the recipe sometime…) Oh! And if you haven’t seen it already, I finally have a new post up! 😉

  • 2 Les // Oct 24, 2007 at 8:15 am

    As an aside: an old college friend used to add only A1 Steak Sauce to his baked potato. I never tried this, as I am a fan of the loaded tradition, but I imagine it would be quite tangy. My favorite potato additives these days are rosemary and garlic-butter. Thanks for offering such an array of alternatives for those of us who think outside the box so rarely.

  • 3 sally // Oct 24, 2007 at 8:23 am

    Jen, I love me some roasted potatoes, too–they’re a staple in my house these days. 😀

    I love your new post, too.

  • 4 Alanna // Oct 25, 2007 at 3:43 am

    So glad you enjoyed the slow potatoes! I just wish growers would actually raise small baking potatoes – mostly they’re close to a whole pound. YIKES.

  • 5 Sarah // Oct 25, 2007 at 6:36 am

    My mouth is just watering reading your post! I love potatoes! Oh and I will also put ANY salad dressing on them 🙂

  • 6 Jessica // Oct 25, 2007 at 9:46 am

    This is one of my family’s favorite dinners – we do usually microwave them and I know there is no comparison in taste it lets me get dinner on the table in fifteen minutes! With two kids and a busy schedule that just can’t be beat. Another plus for us is that baked potatoes are so flexible – everyone can have whatever topping they want and that really makes my kids happy. Thanks for the topping suggestions – I needed some new ideas for this old favorite.

  • 7 sally // Oct 25, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Alanna, I always buy organic potatoes, so maybe that helps me get ones that are of a reasonable size? I should weigh them.

    Sarah, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only weird one. 😉

    Jessica, you’re welcome. 😀

  • 8 Migraineur // Nov 7, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    I don’t eat potatoes any more, but have you tried straining your goat milk yogurt in a coffee filter? I’ve done this with cow’s milk yogurt, and you get something somewhere between sour cream and goat cheese in texture. That would solve your runniness problem, I bet.

  • 9 Changing It Up // Jan 30, 2008 at 10:12 am

    […] potato of the week’ category, but creating new toppings for a slowwww-baked potato (baked for 3 hours!) has been one fun food creation activity for me in the last few months. One trick I’ve […]

  • 10 Valentine’s Week Healthy Meal Plan (& My Weigh-In for the Week) // Feb 9, 2008 at 10:09 am

    […] make it up as I go along! (Missed my post about making super-slow baked potatoes? Click here. You can read about and look at some of my previous potato […]

  • 11 amanda // May 14, 2010 at 8:08 am

    baked potatoes are awesome,I would leave the cheese out,it doesn’t combine well and gives digestive problems.

    I had the loveliest baked potatoes today 🙂

  • 12 Sandy // Dec 28, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Late to the conversation but I wanted to support those who use salad dressing on baked potatoes or hot pasta. For decades…literally…I used a Hidden Valley flavor they no longer offer. I’ve since found a replacemement that meets restricted diet and also tastes good. Try Lucini’s Tuscan vinegrette and see if you agree.

  • 13 Sandy // Jan 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Sally have you baked 6 or 8 potatoes at once anticipating future meals? If so, have you found a preferred method of reheating? I love the taste of long-baked potatoes but don’t want to leave my oven on that long for just one! I haven’t tried baking in volume and wonder if that would be ill advised.

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