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The battle of the spuds – white potato vs sweet potato

The battle of the spuds – white potato vs sweet potato

The battle of the spuds – white potato vs sweet potato

What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow

A.A. Milne

Ohhhh potatoes. I love potatoes, in all forms, shapes and sizes. Jacket, mashed, boiled, sautéed, roasted, chipped….. So good! White potatoes and sweet potatoes, I love them all.  It’s often thought that sweet potato is better for you than other white potatoes. It seems to be the go to potato for those trying to improve their health, lose weight, reduce cards. For many reasons the sweet potato is seen to be the better of the two. Is that really the case though?

Both are highly nutritious. They have similar calories at around 90 calories per 100g and (maybe surprisingly) they also have very similar carbohydrate, fat and protein content. So where are the differences?

With skins on the sweet potato wins the fibre competition hands down, with around 50% more fibre than the white potato. Fibre is really important for digestive health, keeping things moving, feeding our good gut bacteria, and helping to protect us against nasty diseases. In the UK we should be aiming for 30g per day so the skin on sweet potato is a good place to start.

In the vitamin stakes, the sweet potato completely mashes the white potato with its really high vitamin A content. Vitamin A is essential for good immunity, maintaining good eyesight, and contributes to healthy skin and hair. 100g of sweet potato provides 107% of your daily recommended intake, while the white potato provides just 0.1%. Quite the difference hey!

It also provides more of vitamins C and B6, which are great for healthy skin, bones, blood and overall cell health.

White potato marginally wins the minerals contest though, It has better potassium levels, which we need for muscle contraction, nerve function, heart health and the regulating of blood pressure.

Roast potatoes
Sweet potato slices

There can be some differences in how the potatoes affect your blood sugar levels, with sweet potatoes on the whole causing less of a spike.

This is good because it means it is being digested more slowly, providing you with energy over a longer period. However, this isn’t gospel truth across the board. It varies widely dependant on the type of potato and how it is cooked.

If you leave the skin on there is less of an impact on blood sugar, whereas in comparison if you peeled, boiled and mashed the potatoes the impact is much higher because it is more quickly digested.

 

So which one wins? I don’t know that there is a clear winner here but if I HAD to choose one over the other here my preference would probably be the sweet potato. I think instead of saying one is better than the other we should say that both have benefits and have a place in a well-balanced diet. More to the point, which one do you like the most? That one is the winner, surely?

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

Although the post makes reference to meeting the levels of vitamin A in the diet, there are safe upper limits for the intake and it is not advisable to take supplements and also eat foods high in vitamin A. Please take a look at the page from the NHS which gives guidance on this: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-a.

 

The benefits of meal planning

The benefits of meal planning

The benefits of meal planning

A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.

Brian Tracey

There are so many quotes around planning and the motivation and success that can come from it, and that is because it is undeniable that planning ahead does encourage higher levels of success than just muddling through. This is true of all areas of life, and in many industries. Businesses aren’t successful because they played each day by ear – they had plans. Your family holidays are definitely better for planning when you are going, how you will get there, and where you will stay. Of course people do just get up and go and see where it takes them (brave brave people!), but on the whole people plan.

 

Now put that same theory towards your eating habits. Are you better off seeing how you feel in the moment and having something in the fridge that will satisfy your level of hunger, or what you fancy there and then? Come dinner time are you going to be able to rustle up a satisfying meal for the family if you haven’t planned ahead, or are you just hoping that you picked up enough random items at the supermarket to be able to cobble together a cooked meal?

Are you seeing the benefits of planning yet?

I’d like you to try something ready for your next big food shop. Get out your favourite notebook, a spreadsheet, a chalkboard, a Pinterest board (see the previous post about Pinterest planning), the family calendar, whatever takes your fancy, and work out what you are going to eat for the week.

You can just plan out your evening meals, so that you know what they will be and then see what you fancy for breakfast and lunch each day, or go the whole hog and plan it all. The option you choose depends on you and your personality.

Do you need a full on routine and need to know all of your meals are planned, or are you better having planned but still having some flexibility, and so the evening meal planning is best for you?

There are a few reasons why it’s a good idea. Firstly, it’s motivating. If you are trying to improve the variety in your diet, eat more fresh food, lose weight, gain weight, or improve your regularity of meals then planning is super motivating. It gives you the starting blocks to build on and a plan that you can start to follow.

It helps you to shop smarter. You can buy just what you need, reducing food waste and maybe cutting back on the spending too. 

When you know what you want to eat for the week you can form a shopping list, so when you get to the supermarket you can just pick up the items that you need rather than hunting around for options that you may be able to use. Doesn’t that sound less stressful? I really don’t enjoy food shopping so I like to have a list, get in, get what I need, and get out! 

planner book on table with coffee, watch and paperclips

Don’t forget, you can use online supermarket shopping to plan out your basket and check your costs as you plan, so there will be no nasty surprises when you get to the shops. 

It helps you to evaluate your own diet (if that’s what you are hoping to do). It’ll help you to spot patterns, see what you are eating overall, see where you might want to make some changes. Do you think you could use it as a way to plan in some more fruit and veg, or some more wholefoods, so that you can get more fibre in your diet?

Meal planning also takes away some of the stress of deciding what to eat each day. If you work full time for example, and need to feed the family at the end of a long day, then having a plan can help with this. Maybe you could plan ahead and be prepared enough to pop the slow cooker on in the morning, or even just have some veg peeled and chopped ready to cook.

Make meal planning a nice time too. Grab a coffee in the morning, or a tall cold drink in the evening if that is better for you. Find a space you like to sit in and look through some recipes. Get online, or check out one of the free magazines that your local supermarket offers you. Recipes are everywhere. Enjoy the satisfaction of having lots of lovely meals planned for the week ahead.

 Just some ideas. There will be other ways to plan your week, but I hope that’s got the brain ticking and got you inspired. Now where’s that pen and paper………?

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

Use By, Best Before & Sell By Dates

Use By, Best Before & Sell By Dates

Use By, Best Before & Sell By Dates

My mother accidentally gave me food poisoning. She fed me baby carrots for a snack before Christmas dinner – but they had expired in June! I threw up for the next 24 hours.

Busy Phillips

Food labelling can be confusing, especially around the dates that we find stamped on them. Best Before, Use By, Sell By…. so similar yet mean different things. I will try to break them down and explain them for you.

Best Before

This date is all about the quality of the food, and not so much the safety. It may say Best Before or Best Before End.

If you eat the food before this date you’ll be eating it at it’s best in terms of flavour and texture. For example, fruit and vegetables may start to lose their ripeness after this date. Tinned or dried foods will also have this date. Although they last much longer than fresh foods, there will still be a time where it’s not so good to eat.

You won’t do yourself any harm eating after this date, it just won’t taste as good as it would before if you’ve stored it correctly. 

Use By

This date is about safety. You’ll find it on foods like fresh meat and fish.

If you store the food correctly it will be safe to eat until the Use By date, but after that you risk food poisoning. Once this date has passed you should not eat the food.

Two bottles of milk on a table

Sell By

This one is a bit confusing to you as someone shopping, because it is really there to help the shop keep their shelves stocked correctly. You don’t need to worry about this date when wondering whether or not to eat something. 

The Smell Test

Lots of people say that if it doesn’t smell bad then it’s still fine to eat, despite the Use By date, but don’t be tempted to do this. There will be times where food is not safe to eat even though they smell fine. There are bacteria that you just cannot smell if they are present. It’s not worth the risk.

And Drinks?

What about drinks? Yes, the dates apply in the same way for these too. Stick to the dates on the bottles and cartons to be on the safe side.

 

Remember, all of this applies if you are storing your food correctly. You can prolong the life of some foods by freezing them, and again the label on the package should tell you how long you can safely freeze it for.

Ultimately, if we can consider what we are going to eat in advance we can help reduce the amount of food that we have that passes these dates. If you know what you need, you can buy what you need, and throw away less food. This can only be a good thing right? 

Fresh eggs don’t float

Fresh eggs don’t float

Fresh eggs don’t float

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.

Bernard Meltzer

It’s true, fresh eggs do not float. It’s a quick and easy way to test whether or not your eggs are still fresh. 

Pop the egg in a jug of cold water. If it sinks to the bottom and lies down it’s fresh as they come. If it sinks but stands on end it’s still fresh and good for eating.

As the egg ages it will sit higher and higher in the water, so if it floats to the top it’s not fresh at all and so you might want to consider discarding it.

Why is this? It’s because of the amount of air in the egg. When eggs are super fresh they have just a tiny amount of air in, but then over time the amount of air in there increases, and that is what makes it float in the water.

Don’t just throw away your eggs just because you THINK they’re not good. Test them first.

How to use Pinterest for meal planning

How to use Pinterest for meal planning

How to use Pinterest for meal planning

I cook and I really believe in the family dinner, I think that’s a nice time to bring the family together.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Deciding what to feed the family every day is tough. It often feels like a thankless task and you end up sticking to the same faithful meals you have always made because sometimes that’s just easier. If you know the family will like it and won’t moan you’ll keep on making it. Isn’t it getting boring though? Wouldn’t you like some new meals in your life, and meals that everyone is happy to try? Here’s an idea for you to put a bit of life into your meal planning for the week, and get the family involved.

Pinterest is one of those sites where I could lose hours of my life if I’m not careful, but it’s great for getting ideas together in one space, and finding new ideas. There are so many recipes on there, and here’s where you can use Pinterest to help you refresh your meals and step away from the same old same old.

First, why not create some boards for meal ideas. Boards are like folders where you can save groups of ideas. They are personal to you, and you can call them whatever you want. My own Pinterest account has boards such as ‘Slow cooker recipes’, ‘veggie ideas’, ‘packed lunches’ and even the very fabulous ‘pies’ board. They are really easy to set up, and then as you scroll through posts you can add meals you like the look of, saved for trying when you are ready.

Searching for ideas is simple too – give it a go. Search just the word ‘chicken‘, or try ‘quick dinner ideas‘ (in fact, just click those words – I’ve already searched them for you). You’ll be amazed at how much is there to inspire you.

I like the idea of going one step further and get the family involved.

Set up a board and share it with your family members. You could call it something like ‘Dinner this week’ and then add the meals you decide you would like to cook for the week so that everyone knows what will be on the table, or you could ask everyone to add one or two meal ideas each and share the planning.

You might find they are really keen to contribute, which then takes some of the pressure off you. Once you’re confident and in the swing of things you could contribute your own recipes.

Thank you so much to my friend Lyndsey of Lyndsey Smith Photography for this idea. I shamelessly pinched it and absolutely love it!

Two children preparing food

If you find a recipe on a website that you want to save you can also pin that directly into your Pinterest board to link back to. You could add your family favourites, or recipes that you create. It’ll store it somewhere safe for future, and it’s fun to see how many people pin your ideas to their own boards. There is the option to keep your boards secret, so if you just want somewhere to store recipes but don’t want to save them, that’s fine too.

If you find an account that you love you can choose to follow them, just like you can on Instagram. Go ahead, set up your Pinterest account and have a look at some accounts and ideas that you like the look of.

Be warned though, before you know it you’ll have your recipe boards plus a heap of ideas for the house….. and shoes…….. and hair…….. and holidays…….. and the garden……….

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

There are safe upper limits for the intake of vitamin A. It is not advisable to take supplements and also eat foods high in vitamin A. Please take a look at the page from the NHS which gives guidance on this: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-a.

 

References and Links:

Earth Day: https://www.earthday.org/

Friends of the Earth: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/