You may have a low carbohydrate diet, but the rest of your family probably is not. Creating carbohydrate-free dinners is a challenge. So if you just eat or pick the potatoes, is it going to make a soup or stew with low carbohydrates?
It is hard enough to maintain a low-carbohydrate diet in today's high-sugar society. Even more difficult is when the other members of your family are not on board. While soups and stews are an easy option for weekday family evenings, they can be a problem for low carbohydrate diets.
Usually, comforting bowls containing broth, proteins and vegetables contain a kind of potato. And if you try to avoid carbohydrate-rich starchy foods, it can sound the alarm.
So, if you add potatoes to a stew, will the carbohydrates seep into the broth? Or can you simply "eat it around" to maintain your low carbohydrate diet? Let's look at how carbohydrates work in these starchy tubers.
Carbohydrates and Starch
Potatoes are known as starchy tubers for one reason: they are full of carbohydrates. And while a carbohydrate is not necessarily a starch, all starches are carbohydrates. Now that we've determined that, the question is whether carbohydrates (or starches) will leak out of the potatoes when you cook them in a broth.
When you cook potatoes, you see clouds in the water, which means that starch comes out. The same thing happens in a soup or a stew, but is more difficult to spot because of the color of the broth.
But there is a catch. Potatoes release starch and thus carbohydrates into any liquid that you cook or soak in, but it's not as much as you think. This is because starch seeps into the broth only from cut potato surfaces. These are either good news or bad news, depending on a number of factors that we will discuss below.
I took out the potatoes, so it's low in carbohydrates, right?
Yes and no. Carbohydrates can only get into your soups and stews over sliced potato surfaces. However, the speed at which this happens is very different. It all depends on how small you cut your potatoes and how long you cook them. The smaller you cut the potato pieces, the larger the entire cut surface. And the longer you cook them in a stew, the more likely it is that the potato surfaces will degrade and release more carbohydrates into the broth.
In a soup where the potatoes are rather firm than mushy and are not cut too small, only very little carbohydrate loss occurs. However, in a stew that you have cooked all afternoon, crushing small pieces of potato into mush, the number of carbohydrates in the broth is more significant. Whether this is a problem depends on how many carbohydrates you limit in your diet.
Considerations and Substitutions
If you are on a low carbohydrate diet to treat a chronic illness or to maintain a particular biological condition such as ketosis, consult a physician before you dip into potato-containing soups and stews. A doctor can provide you with blood glucose monitoring tools that help you determine if the number of carbohydrates in your diet is affecting you.
Otherwise, it's probably okay to pick out or eat the potatoes. Keep in mind that the number of carbohydrates you get from the liquid in a dish depends on how small you cut the potatoes and how long you cook them.
When in doubt, you can replace potatoes in soups and stews with other less carbohydrate vegetables. Broccoli and cauliflower last well and add a touch of color to an otherwise brownish broth. If other family members still want or need the extra carbohydrates, serve rice or potatoes along the way ̵
low in carbohydrates, depending on how the dish is prepared. This is frustratingly opaque, but because diets are completely individual, there is really no single answer.
The only thing that nearly everybody can agree on is that we love huge bowls of soup and stew – even if we have to remove all the potatoes.