Low Carb Kitchen
Carb Solutions: Faux Loaded Baked Potatoes
By Dennis Linden
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources; not to mention the affect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL].
Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the blood stream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate theses calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for diabetics who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating foods that have low glycemic scores since they also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.
A Quickie Glycemic Primer:
While putting together last month’s Thanksgiving blog I rediscovered the rutabaga, so I thought I would continue the motif this month by spotlighting this glycemicly unique ingredient in a very decadent recipe suitable for the holiday feasting season. The recipe is a carb-friendly spin on the Hasselback Potato, named after the restaurant where the dish was created called Hasselbacken in Stockholm, Sweden. Basically it’s a seasoned potato that has been baked crisp on the outside, yet remains tender on the inside and topped with sour cream, bacon and cheddar cheese. This recipe retains all those decadent toppings and simply replaces that carb-heavy tuber with a rutabaga!
- The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
- The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
Rutabaga -- I could pronounce that word all day long as it sort rolls off the tongue! The rest of the planet calls this root a “swede” which is the Swedish word for “turnip”. I prefer this American moniker, which is also derived from the more colloquial Swedish word “rotabagge” that roughly translates to “short, stumpy root”. Interestingly, the root is a natural hybrid that is related to both the turnip and cabbage, sharing a combination of genes that are unique to each of those very different kinds of vegetables. A natural hybrid because, while evidence of turnip cultivation can be traced to 15th Century B.C. India, the rutabaga was first discovered growing wild in Sweden in 1620.
Another odd trait is the rutabaga’s glycemic profile. At first glance any carb counter looking up the root’s Glycemic Index Score would rightly shy away from its moderately high 79 number, which is similar to that of fresh corn (78) and brown rice (79) yet less than a regular baking potato (121). What puts this vegetable on a low carb menu is its high fiber content that slows down considerably the rate a person’s metabolism converts starches to sugars resulting in the rutabaga’s extremely low GL score of only 7. BTW, the GL of corn is (171), brown rice (222) and the potato (246)! Need I say more to validate this ingredient substitution so that even carb counters can still enjoy all those scrumptious toppings too!
Nutty and sweet with a mild turnip-like flavor, rutabagas can be roasted, sautéed, baked, fried, boiled, mashed, and added to soups and stews. The root gets sweeter as it cooks. High is both vitamin “C” and beta carotene, the root also has more healthy nutrients and beneficial antioxidants compared to the potato and, honestly, tastes just as good smothered with bacon and cheese! BTW, I spotted this scrumptious dish in a ‘net search and just had to try to whittle it down carb-wise. The only other thing I changed from that original recipe was the “serves four” suggestion, which would require dividing each potato (or rutabaga) in half. After my first tasting there wasn’t a chance of that happening! Enjoy.
Loaded Baked Rutabaga
2 Rutabagas, peeled and rinsed
1 stick Butter, separated
2 Tbs. Melissa’s Minced Garlic
6 Slices Bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
¼ cup Sour Cream
2 Green Onions tops, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Cut slits in the tops of each rutabaga about ¼-inch apart and three-quarters of the way down so each is still attached at the bottom. Carefully tuck a thin slice of butter between each slice. Spread 1 Tbs. of minced garlic over top of each rutabaga, then sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Wrap rutabagas tightly in foil that seals at the top, place on a baking sheet and cook at 425° for 45 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove from oven, open foil and pour melted butter back over top of the rutabagas. Bake without foil for an additional 15 minutes to allow rutabagas to crisp and become golden brown. Then top each rutabaga with a mound of cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese has melted and smothered the root. Before serving top with sour cream and diced green onions.