Mighty potato

The Healing Power of the Potato

Diet is such an important part of our lives: three meals (and snacks!) a day give us ample opportunity to do good and keep ourselves healthy.  And some foods aren’t just tasty and nutritious: they can also help when we’re feeling queasy.

Potato is one of these smart foods: grated raw, it is wonderful for stomach upsets.  And take this useful tip from a member of the Echolife team: children respond to grated raw potato much better when it is mixed with grated raw apple.

WHY IS POTATO SO GOOD?  WHAT’S IN IT?

Potato is an alkaline vegetable (if it grated, juiced or cooked with its skin on).  Ideally your body’s pH should be slightly alkaline (tissue can become prone to accumulation of toxins if it is too acid) – and eating raw grated or cooked mashed potato can help tip the pH balance back where it should be.

For those who are brave enough, juicing potato with the skin on can neutralise an over-acid stomach.  It has even been known to ease the burning pain of a stomach ulcer (for the even braver, particularly when it is mixed with cabbage juice).

The juice of a potato can also help relieve the pain caused by a heavy/greasy meal, even by drinking too much alcohol!  And interestingly, potato is frequently craved by those affected by jetlag.

You don’t need to wait for a stomach upset to reach for potatoes: they are a very nutritious food high in many vitamins (A, B, and C) and minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium amongst others).  The nutrients are found both in the flesh and skin of the potato, while its protein content is almost exclusively found in a thin layer under the skin – to get optimal nutrition out of a potato, try and keep the skin on (baking/roasting them for example).

WHAT ABOUT SOLANINE?

Solanine is a toxin that is present in trace amounts in potatoes (and other members of the ‘nightshade’ family such as tomatoes and eggplants).  However commercial crops are routinely screened for their solanine content, making them perfectly safe to eat.  Solanine is neutralised by heat – so cooking your potato will destroy its solanine content.  Eating raw potato for gastric upsets is not cause for concern, since you would only typically eat about 1 tablespoon of grated raw potato.

However, you should never eat potatoes that have gone green: this is an indication they contain an increased amount of solanine (it can happen as a result of long exposure to light).  The same goes for the little sprouts and the ‘eyes’ of the potato (the brown circular growths on their skin): these should not be consumed – especially not raw.

Next time you are feeling a little queasy, try a little grated potato and apple.  Or if you are sensitive to potatoes or in doubt about having a little of it raw, just try grated apple instead.

And don’t forget about baked potatoes, wedges, mash, and of course soups, including this favourite of ours.

WINTER-WARMER: POTATO AND LEEK SOUP

  • 2 tablespoons ghee, unsalted butter, or olive oil
  • 3 thinly sliced leeks
  • 1 chopped brown onion
  • 8 large washed potatoes chopped into small chunks  – with the skin on (and eyes/sprouts removed!)
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1 cup light cream (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Melt ghee or butter, or heat oil in a large saucepan.

Add the sliced leeks and onions, and stir over low heat until slightly brown.

Add chopped potatoes, then broth to cover.
Cook over low heat until tender.

Remove from heat – blend in food processor if you like your soup smooth, or leave it as it is.
Add 1 cup of light cream, salt and pepper to taste.
Keep on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to stop the soup from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

Remove from heat and serve.   Garnish with chives, top with a dollop of cream (or yoghurt), and don’t forget a warm piece of bread.

Bon appétit!

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Author Sandi Rogers has written a wonderful compendium called ‘Fruit & Vegetables as Medicine‘: containing so many surprising and useful facts about the delicious food we eat unwittingly!

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