Twice-baked loaded potatoes with coconut bacon!
Like most women my age I have tried my share of diets over the years. Starting back when I was in college I put on the predictable “freshman 15”, and I tried many ways to get rid of the weight. I still remember eating a salad bowl full of fruit one day on The Scarsdale Diet. Oy. Eventually though, after having a baby or two I joined Weight Watchers and lost the extra pesky weight for good. Probably the best thing I learned from WW was what a normal portion of food looked like (3 oz. of meat = a deck of cards). Anyone know what I’m talking about?
Now that I’m vegan and my gold standard (what I aspire to, not necessarily what I achieve) is a whole foods, plant-based diet, I am often revisiting some of the messages I received in those WW days that have little to do with health and more to do with calorie restriction. This is a long-winded way of saying that for years I believed that white potatoes were the equivalent of white rice and white bread–empty calories with little nutritional value. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While there’s no place for white rice and white bread on a whole foods, plant-based diet, that is not the case with potatoes. In fact, baked potatoes (skin included) are a good source of protein and a bunch of other nutrients. Click here for a quick overview. As such I’ve decided to bring baked potatoes back into my dinner rotation. Oh, and did I mention that I love a crispy baked potato?
You may be wondering about these loaded potatoes. Aren’t they also loaded with fat? Not at all. There is a small amount of fat in the almond milk and coconut but that’s it. Yet, these are as delicious and satisfying as they look. There are four parts to this recipe: potato mixture, “queso” sauce, pico de gallo and coconut bacon and it’s very simple to put it all together. First I baked the potatoes for an hour, and scooped the potato out and mixed it with sautéed onion (I did it without oil), cilantro, liquid aminos and spices. I also added in about 1/2 cup of black beans and two tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk to make it a bit more creamy. Then I put this filling back in the potato shells and put it back to bake for another 20 minutes. To make the queso, I blended almond milk, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, lemon juice, liquid aminos and spices and warmed it all up on the stove. The pico de gallo is a simple blend of diced tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeño and lime juice. Finally the coconut bacon is large flake coconut blended with liquid smoke, liquid aminos, maple syrup and water and baked until crispy. When the filled potatoes were done baking, I spooned the queso and pico over them and added a sprinkle of coconut bacon. These potatoes are simply fantastic and you can check out the recipe here.
This was my first time making queso, pico and coconut bacon. The queso is truly a cheesy tasting, creamy sauce that would also work well as a dip for veggies or chips. The pico is tangy and refreshing and I plan to make more to add to salads. I have to say that while the coconut bacon looks great, I’m not really a fan. It’s just a little sweet and strongly flavored for my taste. David loved it though, so if you’ve never tried this vegan staple, I encourage you to make it once and see what you think. Many folks swear by it.
If you’re a fan of twice-baked and /or loaded baked potatoes this healthy alternative will not disappoint. And for all you weight watchers out there, it really is okay to eat the whole thing ;).