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“Processed” foods have been blamed for everything from the chronic disease epidemic to the demise of cooking skills.  And it’s certainly true that our current food supply has more ready-made options on the market than ever before, with thousands of new products debuting annually.  But there’s a large, grey spectrum of processed foods – after all, cooking is processing – and not all of them equal “bad choice.”

When I’m evaluating any food that isn’t in its just-picked form, I ask two questions:

  1. How many other ingredients have been added?
  2. What nutrients have been lost?

Sometimes, the answers are none and nearly none – as with frozen, plain veggies – and sometimes a lot is added, and a lot is lost!  Obviously, those are the products I tend to buy extremely rarely.  Potato flakes fall somewhere in the middle, and probably closer to the “low” side of things: ingredients include dehydrated potatoes and some sodium based preservatives, and they still contain 300mg of potassium in just 1/3 cup of flakes.

Now, if I’m making mashed potatoes to serve, I will absolutely do them from scratch – I leave the skins on for extra fiber and texture, fold in some sauteed garlic and parmesan…so good!  But if mashed potatoes are merely an ingredient in another recipe, I like to use the dehydrated ones.  Heat a little milk in the microwave, stir in some flakes, and you have mashed potatoes in less than 3 minutes; can’t beat that.  I had bought a box of potato flakes last month for fastnacht making, and didn’t use the whole thing.  Since this month’s RecipeRedux theme is to repurpose a recipe or meal, try using your leftover mashed potatoes (or flakes) to make some gnocchi!  Click the link below to see the rest of the recipes for this month.

Greek yogurt gnocchi

  • 1 cup mashed potatoes, warm
  • 2/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • dash salt
  • 1 1/4 cup flour

Bring water in a large pot to a boil on the stovetop.  In a large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, yogurt, mozzarella, salt and parmesan, stirring until evenly combined.  Add 3/4 cup of flour, 1/4 cup at a time, while stirring.  Sprinkle a clean surface with flour, and lightly knead dough to incorporate as much more flour as necessary.  Dough should be soft, but not sticky.  Pat into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick.  Cut with a pizza cutter, creating pieces roughly an inch square – should make ~30.  Lightly press each with a fork.  Place in boiling water; don’t over fill the pot – gnocchis should barely touch each other.  Boil for 8 minutes per batch.  Enjoy with any sauce you prefer!

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