Potatoes, A Bladder-Friendly Veggie – Fresh Tastes by Bev

By Bev Laumann, Author of A Taste of The Good Life: A Cookbook for IC & OAB


“Potatoes again?” I can remember complaining to my mom as I plunked myself down in the chair for dinner. I scowled at the mashed potatoes on my plate. Potatoes were ok… but at six years old I saw them as one boring vegetable. I can still see my mom’s smile as I announced that when I grew up I’d eat nothing but enchiladas and chocolate cake.
Well, some things just don’t change. I still hanker for spicy enchiladas and rich chocolate cake (and sometimes I sneak a bit anyway). Of course for me, a big part of the attraction for such foods (then as now) is the old “forbidden fruit” thing– I simply can’t eat them whenever I want. But that doesn’t mean that the foods I CAN eat are required to be boring.

With the emphasis on healthy cuisine these days, chefs across the country are experimenting with unusual flavor combinations, pungent herbs and aromatic spices to lend exciting new flavors to what most people consider bland vegetables. It’s not hard to find intriguing and tasty potato recipes. For instance, in her recent cookbook, “50 Best Mashed Potatoes”, Sarah Reynolds devotes the entire volume to innovative recipes for that old potato standby. Anything but humdrum, her recipes prove that just about any food can be made flavorful with a bit of ingenuity. (If you’ve been used to boxed quick mashed potatoes, by all means try the homemade variety! The fluffy, creamy goodness is well worth the extra few minutes of preparation time. You may avoid bladder pain from some unfriendly preservatives like BHA and BHT as well.)

Colorful and Vitamin-packed Though we often associate them with the Irish, potatoes actually are a New World food and have been cultivated for centuries by the natives in South America. If you’ve ever seen the potatoes these indigenous peoples harvest its hard to believe they are related to what’s in our supermarkets. Native potatoes come in a rainbow of colors (including lavender and black) and are unusual shapes and sizes (some are as small as marbles).

Four of the most common cultivated types of potatoes in the United States are russets (the baking potato), long whites (good for boiling and cold potato salads), round whites and round reds (these last two are frequently served with the skins left on). The last two types are often sold in stores as White Rose or Red Rose potatoes. “Spring” or “new” potatoes are simply a small size of the round red or white varieties. Making inroads in the marketplace are some relatively new varieties that are worth trying. Some of them show their native heritage and have the curious inside or outside coloring. They also may have slightly different flavors. Yukon Gold is quite popular– when you serve it you’ll see why it’s aptly named.

Potatoes are good bladder-friendly sources of vitamin C too. According to the American Dietetic Association, they are also good sources of dietary potassium (so are broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes)

[1]. Potatoes are a starchy vegetable (as are cassavas, breadfruit, taro root, rutabaga, and corn).

For potatoes, 45 degrees F. is the best temperature for storage. Below 45 degrees F. the starches begin to return to sugars and the potatoes will taste a bit sweeter with long-term storage (it’s not a good idea to store them in the refrigerator though). Above 45 degrees, they sprout and shrivel. Exposed to light when stored, they turn green. (By the way, green potatoes contain solanine, a naturally toxic substance. Most healthy people have no problem at all with the small amounts in a potato. But as a person with a chronic illness, I know I’m susceptible to a lot of things most people aren’t so I just play it safe and avoid green potatoes).

Cooking with Potatoes

Peeled potatoes will darken when they are exposed to the oxygen in the air. You can prevent this by immediately submerging them in water for a few minutes. Keep in mind though that submerging them for a long time may make them lose vitamins [2].
To help keep small “new” potatoes from splitting their skins when they are steamed, try cutting off a small strip of the skin around the potato. Thick skinned potatoes are best for baking while the thinner skinned ones stand up well to boiling or steaming.

Here are three tasty and bladder-friendly potato recipes. This first one is a family favorite from my cookbook, “A Taste of the Good Life– A Cookbook for an Interstitial Cystitis Diet”.


  1. The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food & Nutrition Guide, Roberta Duyff, Chronimed Publishing, 1998.
  2. “Potatoes”, bulletin #4179, University of Maine USDA Cooperative Extension Office, 1995.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

– serves 4

  • 4 to 6 new red potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, slightly crushed
  • dash pepper (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and scrub potatoes. Cut in quarters (for large) or halves (for smaller ones). Add olive oil to a cast-iron skillet and heat.
  2. When hot, add garlic, potatoes and salt, stirring to coat thoroughly. Place skillet in oven and bake at 400 degrees F. until potatoes are slightly soft, about 20 min. Remove from Oven and add chives, rosemary and pepper if desired, stirring to coat. Return to oven for about 10 or 15 minutes more until potatoes are soft. (If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, use a regular skillet to brown the potatoes, then transfer the oil and potatoes to a rimmed cookie sheet or metal baking pan).

Per serving: Calories, 212; Total Fat, 10 grams; Vitamin C, 31 mg.

Golden Grilled Vegetables

– serves 4

(This one’s wonderful for Labor Day picnics and backyard barbecues. Each serving also supplies about 4 times the daily requirement of vitamin C.)

  • 1 pound boiling potatoes, Yukon Gold
  • 1 pound yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 pound red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 dash salt
  1. Scrub potatoes and cut in 1-inch chunks. Wash and seed bell peppers, cut in 1-inch pieces also. Dry vegetables on a paper towel. Place vegetables, oil and salt into a bowl and toss to coat thoroughly. Turn into a double layer of aluminum foil and wrap up. Place on barbecue grill over medium hot coals and heat approximately 30 minutes. Unwrap and serve.

Per serving: Calories, 187; Total Fat, 7 grams; Vitamin C, 280 mg.

Oven-Baked French Fries

– serves 4

(These are lower in fat and calories than most frozen versions you get at the store and in addition, you don’t have to worry about the bladder effects of preservatives).

  • 3 medium-size potatoes
  • 5 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash pepper (optional)
  • 1 pinch dried marjoram
  1. Wash potatoes and preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Cut potatoes into long strips about half an inch thick, then dry very well on paper towels. Place oil, salt, pepper if desired, and marjoram in a large bowl with the potato strips. Toss to get strips thoroughly coated. Spread strips on a cookie sheet in a single layer and place in preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn strips to brown evenly. Bake another 15 minutes.

Per serving: Calories, 123; Total Fat, 6 grams; Vitamin C, 18 mg.