“Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew,” Samwise Gamgee said. (I apologize to all of you who aren’t Lord of the Rings fans.) Of course he was talking about potatoes. Potatoes have gotten a bad rap in recent years, especially with those who are trying to lose weight. The perception is that potatoes are fattening, but this depends so much on how they are prepared.

Potatoes are low in saturated fat and sodium and contain no cholesterol. They are great sources of Vitamins C and B6 as well as Manganese, and each medium potato has twice as much Potassium as a banana. If you eat the peels, they also have quite a lot of fiber; they’re good sources of quality protein, too. For all of these reasons (and because they are super tasty) I eat lots of potatoes.

While I do like them boiled, mashed, and in stews, I enjoy coming up with new ways to eat potatoes. These Twice Baked Potatoes have lots of flavor without all of the fat in traditional “stuffed” potatoes. Here’s what you need:

3 or 4 medium potatoes, baked
1/2 to 3/4 cup fat free cottage cheese
2-3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated part skim mozzarella or cheddar cheese
1 cup broccoli florets, steamed and chopped into tiny pieces
black pepper to taste
herbs of choice (optional; oregano, thyme, basil, whatever you like)

Prepare potatoes for baking by washing skins well, then piercing them in several places with a fork. Bake at 350 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the skins are crisp and the inside is tender. Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them comfortably, then slice each in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside. Leave about 1/4″ of potato just inside the skin so they hold their shape. (My son helped with this part by scooping with a melon baller.)

Mash the scooped-out potato, then add the cottage cheese and mash again (if you prefer a smoother potato filling, you can use a mixer and add a bit of milk, but don’t over mix or it can become gummy). Stir in 2 Tbsp of the parmesan cheese, black pepper, and the broccoli florets. Scoop the filling back into the empty potato skins, top with the remaining grated parmesan and mozzarella or cheddar cheeses, sprinkle with herbs of choice, and bake again at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned.

When I prepare my own, I sprinkle with the smallest amount of cheese possible…just enough for that pretty brown top. I’ve also made them with sauteed onion and garlic mixed with the broccoli. You could also mash steamed cauliflower into the potato. My husband loves them with sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese. There are so many great combinations of veggies and toppings to try!

What would you put in your potatoes?