I'm sure you'll agree that a roast dinner just wouldn’t be complete without the potatoes. But doused in oil, our beloved roast spuds are unlikely to win many points in the health department. So what’s the most nutritious way to cook them?
We challenged three professional chefs (Bradley, Reece and Renaldo) from the Good Eating Company to show us the healthy way to do it. We then asked nutritionist Rose Constantine Smith to analyse their efforts.
Rose says: “It is not hard to guess what makes roast potatoes unhealthy. Being coated in fat to give them a nice crispy texture means great taste. But it’s obviously not so great for your waistline”.
Bradley’s rapeseed oil roasties
Bradley Sinkins is head chef at Engine in London. He says he chose to use rapeseed oil to improve the fat profile of the recipe.
200g white potatoes
50ml rapeseed oil
1 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp rosemary (finely chopped)
2 tbsp thyme (finely chopped)
- Preheat the oven to 190 °C
- Peel, rinse and halve the larger potatoes so they are all a similar size
- Place in a steamer and steam for 10 minutes or until they are soft when you prick them with a knife.
- Leave potatoes on the side to dry off slightly.
- Put potatoes into a roasting tin and toss with the oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme so they all have an even covering.
- Place in the oven for around 45 minutes to an hour. Or until golden and crisp.
Reece’s low GI roast potatoes
Reece Taylor is head chef at Arup. He says:
“Yellow potato was chosen as it is thought to have a lower GI compared to red potatoes, and is also high in vitamin C, iron, calcium and potassium. The method is designed to shorten the cooking time compared to traditionally roasting the potatoes. This is to stop the loss of nutrients from extended cooking. And I've used rapeseed oil as a healthier fat.”
1kg yellow potatoes
30g black pepper
2.7 l rapeseed oil
- Peel the potatoes and place in a pan and cover with cold water and add a teaspoon of salt. Place on a medium-high heat and simmer until they are soft in middle and breaking on the edges.
- Drain and place on a wire rack until cooled and dry.
- Meanwhile, heat the rapeseed oil in a deep pan and bring to 190°C.
- Carefully place a handful or two of the cooled potatoes into the oil and fry until crisp.
- Remove from the oil and place on paper towel to drain off excess oil.
- Once all have been fried, season with chopped thyme and cracked black pepper.
Renaldo's chia seed spuds
Renaldo Wright is head chef at Henrywood House. He says:
“I am going to be steaming rather than boiling the potatoes to reduce nutrient loss. Once fluffed up, I am going to be crusting them with chia seeds. Once this is done I am going to be using rapeseed oil, salt and pepper to flavour and roasting until golden brown. I have chosen to use chia seeds as I think it will give the potatoes a great texture and also because of their numerous health benefits, including being a source of omega-3, fibre and antioxidants.”
4 medium sized potatoes
40g chia seeds
60ml rapeseed oil
- Preheat the oven to 220°C / 200°C fan.
- Peel your potatoes and cut into desired roast potato size.
- Put your potatoes into boiling water and boil until the insides are firm but the outside has started to cook. Alternatively, you can use a steamer. You DON'T want the insides to be cooked!
- Now put into a bowl and toss so the outsides fluff up but your potatoes are intact.
- Now add your oil and sprinkle over your salt and chia seeds then toss together.
- Place onto a baking tray with parchment paper and bake in the oven for 15 mins or until you have a golden roast potato. Inside should now be cooked and the outside should have a nice crispy shell.
The nutritionist’s view
Rose shares her thoughts on the participants' efforts and gives her tips for creating healthier roast potatoes at home.
“Bradley and Renaldo’s choice of steaming to preserve the nutrient value and use of healthier oils such as rapeseed to improve the fat profile all lead to a healthier end product.”
Extra crunch and added nutritional value
“Renaldo added chia seeds to add an extra crunch to his potatoes which also meant that it became a great source of omega-3.”
Healthier fats and clever seasoning
“I would also do as the chefs have and look to use a healthier fat such as rapeseed oil and enhance the flavour lost from not using goose fat by using rosemary, garlic and a little seasoning.”
“Reece also used rapeseed oil which reduce the saturated fat content. But his method of cooking the roast potatoes by frying reduced the cooking time which preserved more of the nutritional value of the potatoes. However, it also meant they were slightly higher in fat.”
"To keep the characteristic of the classic roast potato I would look more at technique, for example keeping the potatoes bigger so that there is a smaller surface area, but bear in mind that you would need fewer of them."