Budget Vegan – Potatoes
There is often a perception that budget vegan food is a basic salad or its complicated and expensive. Choosing budget vegan meals is easier than you might think.
One often overlooked option is the humble potato family.
Potatoes are complex carbohydrates and choosing to eat them in an unprocessed form will give you a variety of vitamins, minerals and of course fibre. These vegetables (stem tubers) are budget friendly and extremely versatile.
When looking at meal options potato fries are definitely not on my radar!
However a beautiful, slow cooked baked potato or sweet potato, in its skin, is comfort food with benefits.
When buying potatoes look for good quality produce, you don’t want green potatoes or sprouting parts, these can be toxic.
Look for healthy, blemish free skin, my preference is a pinkish skin like the Desiree variety.
Potatoes reduce inflammation neutralising body acids which is good news if you have arthritis or rheumatism. They also contain vitamins B6, B5 and B3. As well as many trace minerals.
Look for clean, fresh, seasonal produce. While they are available all year round in Australia their peak season is May to July.
High in fibre and rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which can be very effective at raising blood levels of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin C which is great for skin health. Vitamins B6, B5 and vitamin E. They also contain the minerals potassium and manganese.
To prepare your potatoes for cooking, ensure they are well cleaned, scrub with a little vinegar and water, rinse well, before baking.
Baking at 180 degrees Celsius for about an hour and a half will usually give you a good out come. Timing is dependant on potato size – set your timer for 1 hour then check with a fork to test if fully cooked. For the best result lightly rub with a little olive oil. You don’t need lots of oil to get great taste. However if you are concerned about fat then dry baking is also effective.
Potatoes are a satisfying carbohydrate hit that make a base for so many easy toppings to turn them into a full meal option.
I often bake a few over the weekend for weekly food prep as they can be taken to the office for a quick lunch or used as a dinner base when time is short after a long day at work.
Some of my favourite toppings are the easiest ones.
Hummus and Sprouts.
There are so many great hummus blends in the supermarket, many are vegan, just check the ingredients list. Hot or cold your potato is fully dressed by simply cutting into quarters and spooning on a dollop of hummus. Add a handful of sprouts, sprinkle with pepitas seeds and you have an instant meal.
Organic green salad leaf mix varieties are easily available.Tossed with a freshly whipped dressing (in your blender) of avocado, coconut yoghurt, coriander and lemon juice. Slice up some cold baked potato, sprinkle with dakka and you have dinner ready in less than five minutes.
Coconut yoghurt and sweet chilli sauce.
This is another dish that works hot or cold.
1 part coconut yoghurt to 2 parts sweet chilli sauce . Some shaved coconut and a sprinkle of pomegranates and you have an easy meal that is best served with a crunchy green side salad.
I always have these in the cupboard and I use the potatoes as a bowl base with mixed lettuce leaves, a scoop of beans and a big dollop of avocado and chopped tomatoes. You could also do a full on guacamole.
Nut butter and Nuts.
Any nut butter is also a yummy way to enjoy potatoes. My preference is almond butter with crunchy sprouts, alfalfa and some grated carrot. Sprinkled nuts such as almonds and cashews, either raw or roasted add crunch and flavour. Many seeds such as pepitas, sunflower and sesame also work really well and they look beautiful.
Are always easy to add to any meal. Cooked in the fry pan with a little vegetable stock, they also taste amazing with hummus, smashed avocado or sweet chilli sauce on top.
The only limit to how you dress a potato is your imagination. You can mix and match all kinds of toppings to create something colourful, healthy and vitamin packed. Check out the health food isle in your supermarket and you will find a great variety of nut and seed mixes, roasted chickpeas, dried raw nuts and different kinds of canned beans. You can also add grated vegan cheese, cashew parmesan or vegan mayonnaise.
Adding fresh greens
Whenever you slow cook food it feels healthier with something raw on the side. A mixed green salad is the best way to do this, combinations of various lettuce varieties, snow pea shoots, alfalfa, sprouts, baby cucumbers, snow peas, even grated green apples or slices of pear add just a little texture and maximise your vitamin content.
At GV we are always looking for inspiration, share your ideas on the Gently Vegan Facebook group