How To Give Your Mashed Potatoes A Nutritious Boost

According to a 2020 survey from research data and analytics group YouGov, mashed potatoes are America's favorite food, and it's no surprise why. Pillowy soft, buttery, and draped in gravy, topped in chives, or sprinkled with pepper — mashed potatoes are a thing of wonder. Their earthy mild flavor provides a great base for a variety of toppings, seasonings, and textures, whether they are whipped smooth and fluffy or left ruggedly hearty with their skins on and crudely mashed. 

And you can make mash from a variety of potatoes in different colors and sizes with a bevy of different mix-ins and crunchy toppers. A home-cooked fave whether mashed, fried, baked, or au gratin, as Livestrong notes, potatoes on their own, are quite nutritious, providing 6% of your daily vitamin A, 8-9% of B vitamins, and 6% of vitamin K in just one-half cup serving of mashed potatoes. And that same serving also provides a whopping 346 milligrams of potassium.

How to hack your mash

While that's pretty nutritious, there's always room to hack the levels in your favorite comfort foods. Making little tweaks here and there that not only boost taste or maximize mouthfeel but also help you to optimize the nutrients in your most beloved foods. 

An excellent way to keep your mashed potatoes' nutritive profile strong can be to swap out or add in ingredients that amp up the positive qualities of that comfort food. For example, adding some kale to your mash for a yummy and nutrient-dense take on traditional Irish colcannon potatoes pumps them up, adding vitamins A, C, K, B6, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, and even a small amount omega-3 fatty acid, according to Healthline. Even better is to sub in something that not only boosts the vitamins and minerals in this soothing side dish but that also aids in digestion and absorption of those awesome nutrients as well as tastes great — enter kefir.

Why kefir?

Kefir is a fermented food, which means it's chock full of those lovely little beasties — probiotics. According to Harvard Health Publishing, those probiotics are beneficial bacteria that aid in keeping your gut microbiota performing at their absolute best, optimizing digestion, helping stave off inflammation, and ensuring proper nutritional absorption, all of which have been shown to have favorable impacts on both cardiovascular and mental health, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Edible Alchemy adds that fermented foods like kefir can also help improve the nutrient and mineral bioavailability of plant foods — giving them a signal boost.

But there are lots of fermented foods, why add kefir to your mash? Because it tastes deliciously tangy like buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream, giving your mashed spuds a flavorful charge. If you've ever had buttermilk or sour cream in your mashed potatoes, you know the rich, creamy and subtle zing those ingredients can add to what could be a boring ol' reliable side. All of this makes kefir a perfect nutrition hack for America's all-time favorite comfort food.