The mighty spud!

The potato is the most popular vegetable we eat. But four out of every ten spuds that leave the farm ends up on our plates as chips. So instead of a fat free, 220 calorie baked potato, we get a large order of McDonalds fries, with 450 calories and 22g of fat - that is as much artery-clogging fat as a Quarter Pounder!

So why do we love chips so much? The reason is simply the fat content. Fat makes any food more appetising and pleasing, it gives the food a better consistency and if deep fried, gives that crispiness that we all love so much. So, what can we do about it?

First things first - do not go to your favourite fast food restaurant so frequently. A serving of fries has nearly twice as many calories than those sensibly cooked in your own oven at home.

Potatoes are actually one of the most versatile vegetables you can get - so experiment. Try mashing the potatoes with herbs or leafy vegetables like spinach or cabbage to make colcannon. Why not try making some of your own potato wedges, sprinkled with spices and simply roasted in the oven - there are plenty of ideas below. To be really exotic, use sweet potatoes once in a while - they're low Gi too!

There are plenty of healthy options out there, quite a few already sitting on your supermarket shelf. But the simplest, cheapest and healthiest way to eat a potato is to bake it yourself (1-1½ hours at 200 C). This leaves your potato crispy on the outside and steamy on the inside. With a dollop of low fat cottage cheese or some tangy tomato salsa – what more could you ask for?

But if you really need to give in to that craving, then get rid of the deep fat fryer and grab the low fat healthier oven chips! Remember to read the packets you pick up and look at both the calorie and fat content. Try to go for oven chips with a content of less than 5% - a serving of these will save you almost 20g fat and 200 calories, compared to the deep-fried version.

Crispy potato wedges

1 medium or 2 small potatoes (100-120g)
1 ½ tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Wash potatoes but do not peel. Cut into wedges and place in an oven-proof bowl or roasting dish. Pour over oil and toss well, ensuring all wedges are coated lightly in oil. Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until wedges are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Why not sprinkle the potatoes with spices or herbs before baking? Try one of these varieties and remember, you won’t need any added salt:

· ¼ tsp each of cumin, garam masala and coriander powder; serve with natural yoghurt dip

· ¼ tsp each of garlic powder, basil and oregano; serve with cottage cheese or extra light cream cheese

· ½ tsp curry powder; serve with mango chutney and natural yoghurt

· ½ tsp chilli powder; serve with salsa and low fat fromage frais

· try using a flavoured oil such as chilli, herb or garlic oil

Serves one

Nutritional information: 126kcal and 4.2g fat per serving.

Monster mash

1 medium or 2 small floury potatoes (100-120g)
2 tbs skimmed milk
1 ½ tsp olive oil or 10g very low fat spread

Peel the potatoes, chop into regular-sized chunks and boil for around 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes, adding milk and oil or margarine. Beat until smooth.

Why not vary this mash by adding a good spoonful of wholegrain mustard, chopped fresh parsley (or any herb, really), chopped spring onions or even cabbage. Mashing in another root vegetable such as turnip, parsnip or celeriac can also make an interesting change.

Serves one

Nutritional information: 139kcal and 4.3g fat per serving.

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