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Mashed potatoes are a classic dish at most everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner table. Whether you like them silky and smooth or hearty and chunky, they’re a delicious accompaniment to roasted turkey. In simplest form, mashed potatoes are put together with just five ingredients: potatoes, milk, butter, salt and pepper. However, some people may say that if you want them creamy, you must add cream: heavy whipping cream, sour cream or even cream cheese! But are these high-calorie, high-saturated fat ingredients truly needed for a mouth-watering bowl of mashed potatoes?

Higher starch potatoes, like russet or Idaho, will produce fluffy, smooth mashed potatoes. Waxy potatoes, like red or new potatoes, hold their shape better when cooking and thus may require more muscle power to mash without turning them into potato paste. Don’t use a blender to whip potatoes! If you’re not careful, blenders or food processors will overwork the starch and leave you with gummy taters. Invest just a couple of bucks into a potato masher, and don’t overwork them! Also, warm the milk before adding it to the potatoes, which will absorb better and not cool down a hot dish. 

Despite the criticism white potatoes receive, they’re packed with nutrition, including fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C and more potassium than a banana. Instant mashed potatoes are certainly convenient, but you’ll need to read the labels to choose the healthiest one. Look for those without hydrogenated oils and preservatives with sodium. Dehydrated potato flakes is the only ingredient necessary! With these tips, you’ll succeed in making delicious fluffy mashed potatoes without the need for cream!

Easy Mashed Potatoes

5 pounds potatoes

5-7 tablespoons butter or margarine

2-2½ cups skim milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Wash potatoes, peel if desired, and quarter. Place potatoes in a large stockpot and add cold water to cover by 1 inch. Cover with lid and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Uncover and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Test for tenderness at 30 minutes by piercing with a fork. Once fork tender, remove from heat and drain. Place back on stovetop and reduce heat to low. Stir in butter or margarine, salt and pepper. Heat milk in the microwave for 45 seconds or until warm. Add to potatoes and mash with potato masher. Serve warm.

Yield:  12 servings

Nutrition facts (per serving): 250 calories, 6 grams fat, 140 milligrams sodium, 43 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 6 grams protein

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Smith is nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306. 

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