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Make it Healthy: Authentic homemade au gratin potatoes

Published April 17, 2012 4:08 pm

Make it healthy • Seven ingredients is all it takes for an authentic au gratin potato dish.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Grocery stores are packed with products that may tout convenience, but contain ingredients that aren't healthy. Today, we highlight Idahoan Au Gratin Homestyle Casserole.

The Idahoan brand claims it has been serving "authentic homemade taste" for more than 50 years, but uses sodium bisulfite, yellow dyes No. 5 and No. 6, silicon dioxide and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

It takes 27 ingredients to make their au gratin potatoes — my recipe has only seven.

According to the Center for Science in the Public's Interest, sodium bisulfite prevents discoloration, destroys vitamin B-1 and "can cause severe reactions, especially in asthmatics." The CSPI also says yellow No. 5 dye has been linked to "allergy-like hypersensitivity reactions, primarily in aspirin-sensitive persons, and triggers hyperactivity in some children." Further, yellow No. 6 has been known "to cause tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney."

Silicon dioxide is an anti-caking agent akin to sand.

Though the label says 0 grams of trans fat, this product contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which is trans fat. So, each of the four servings contains up to 0.5 grams of trans fat. Trans fat promotes heart disease and is more harmful to the body than saturated fat. The front of the box also says to "add milk and margarine" to its dried potatoes. Stick margarine contains more trans fat.

There's nothing more "homestyle" than making something from scratch.

If you'd like a healthier substitute for a processed food in your pantry, email your request to lneilson@sltrib.com. —

Au gratin potatoes

2 tablespoons butter, softened, divided

2 russet potatoes

1/2 cup milk or heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Grated nutmeg

Parchment paper

1/2 cup grated cheese such as Monterey Jack or Parmesan

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the potatoes into thin slices about 1⁄8 inch thick. Using 1 tablespoon butter, butter a small, oval gratin dish.

Lay the potatoes upon one another in the dish, making a complete oval around the outside edge. Repeat, creating a smaller oval next to the larger oval. Place the remaining potato slices down the middle of the gratin dish. Pour the milk over the potatoes. Place small nubbins of the remaining 1 tablespoon butter atop the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Cut an oval out of parchment paper and place over the potatoes.

Bake in the oven until bubbly and tender when pierced with a small knife, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove and discard the parchment paper and sprinkle cheese on the potatoes.

Increase the heat to 450 degrees and return the potatoes to the oven to continue baking for another 10 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling.

Makes • 6 servings

Source: Lesli J. Neilson Idahoan Au Gratin Potatoes

Idaho® potato slices (preserved with sodium bisulfite), whey, salt, enriched wheat flour bleached (containing niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), modified food starch, cheddar and blue cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), wheat starch, dried onion, nonfat milk, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, sodium bicarbonate, dried garlic, monocalcium phosphate, sodium caseinate, disodium phosphate, mono & diglycerides, citric acid, whey protein concentrate, annatto extract, paprika extract, sodium citrate, yellow #5 and yellow #6 and less than 2.0% silicon dioxide added as an anti-caking agent. Idahoan Au Gratin Potatoes

Idaho® potato slices (preserved with sodium bisulfite), whey, salt, enriched wheat flour bleached (containing niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), modified food starch, cheddar and blue cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), wheat starch, dried onion, nonfat milk, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, sodium bicarbonate, dried garlic, monocalcium phosphate, sodium caseinate, disodium phosphate, mono & diglycerides, citric acid, whey protein concentrate, annatto extract, paprika extract, sodium citrate, yellow #5 and yellow #6 and less than 2.0% silicon dioxide added as an anti-caking agent.

At a glance

The amounts listed are per 1/2 cup serving of prepared au gratin potatoes. The daily recommendations are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day. They don't take into consideration individual weight, age or gender.

Idahoan/made-from-scratch version/daily recommendations

Calories • 160/ 112/ 2,000

Total fat • 1 g/ 7 g/ less than 65 g

Saturated fat • 0 g/ 4 g/ less than 20 g

Trans fat • 0 g/ 0 g/ 0 g

Cholesterol • 0 mg/ 11 mg/ ess than 300 mg

Sodium • 590 mg/ 93 mg/ less than 2,300 mg

Total carbohydrates • 20 g/ 10 g/ 300 g

Dietary fiber • 1 g/ 1 g/ 25 g

Sugar • 2 g/ 2 g/ 25 g (6 tsp.)

Protein • 2 g/ 4 g/ 50 g