Are Baked Potatoes Healthy?

They are, if you want them to be.

Spanakopita “Baked” Potato
Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Margaret Monroe Dickey

Nutritionally speaking, potatoes often get a bad rap , but they can be a smart foundation for a healthy meal. They are naturally high in Vitamins C and B6, are gluten-free, and rich in potassium.

Obviously, baking is the healthiest way to cook a potato (sorry, hash brown lovers), especially if you are going to eat the skins, which are a good source of fiber. But baked potatoes don't have to be loaded with butter, cheese, and sour cream in order to be delicious. If you think of a potato as a vehicle for eating vegetables, you can come up with an endless array of tasty topping ideas that also happen to be good for you.

But first, you'll have to bake some potatoes:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork or paring knife. Drizzle 3 large baking potatoes with 2 tsp. olive or vegetable oil, and rub with 2 tsp. kosher salt. Place on a 15- × 10-inch jelly-roll pan with a wire rack set on top. The rack keeps the potato elevated and allows air to circulate all around for even cooking and no soggy spots. Bake for 1 hour or until the centers are tender; cut in half.

Watch: Here's Why You Should Never Store Potatoes in Your Fridge

Now that you have a perfectly cooked, piping hot potato, you need a few ways to top it.

Spanakopita "Baked" Potato

Sautéed spinach, feta cheese, garlic, fresh dill, and lemon zest make a Greek-inspired topping that tastes great with a creamy baked potato.

Roasted Vegetable Loaded Potatoes

Here's a great way to clean out your refrigerator and boost your daily servings of vegetables. Simply roast them at the same time as you bake the potatoes. We like adding raisins and toasted walnuts and bottled Italian vinaigrette for a unique twist.

"Pizza" Baked Potatoes

This topping of tomato sauce, mozzarella, and sausage will appeal to kids and adults alike. Keep it on the lighter side by using Italian chicken or turkey sausage instead of pork.

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