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Walking: the “superfood of exercise”

Recipe Swap: Mashed Potato Casserole
, Baked Potato Nachos
, and Fast and Fit Clam Chowder

woman walking

Walking is good for us. That was the news on the radio the other day. “Walking is the superfood of exercise,” the commentator said.

The only thing new here is the catchy turn of phrase. Hundreds of studies and reports tout the benefits of walking. One that garnered a lot of interest looked at the health and fitness of Old Order Amish, who, much as our grandparents did, live without cars or modern conveniences, and whose farming methods are labour intensive. They walk a lot. Among nearly 100 adults in southern Ontario, the men took over 18,000 steps a day, the women over 14,000, or well over the 10,000 recommended. Very few were overweight or obese.

The radio was talking about a new book out by Katy Bowman, a fitness expert, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement.

She warns of the “actively sedentary” lifestyle so many of us live. Instead of having movement built into our day-to-day activities, we are sedentary, seated inside vehicles or at desks much of the time. We may try to make up for it with a bit of exercise here and there. But you can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise, says Bowman, who describes walking as a biological imperative, just like eating.

As winter closes in, it gets tougher to move around, or literally even move. Many of us experience many hours of stillness, huddled indoors away from the cold. But winter needn’t become a sentence of solitary confinement and return to sloth.

The good news is that jaunt to the end of the lane and back, or across town, every day, and preferably several times a day, counts too. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend adults accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Brisk walking is a top recommended moderate-intensity activity. That’s because it’s an accessible form of exercise to us all.

There are new books and reports telling us what to eat and what not to eat all the time. They frequently contradict each other and can confuse us and make us cynical. Studies on walking are different. They build on and support each other. If there’s one activity to choose and stick with, say researchers, it should be to walk as much as possible.

The potato is never “out of season.” Those first little potatoes of summer are yummy but so is a steaming bowl of gently seasoned and roasted, or fluffy and mashed, when fall and winter roll in. Potatoes are perfect ingredients for soups too. Here are three recipes courtesy of the United States Potato Board. Enjoy!

Mashed Potato Casserole

A delicious side dish to consider serving this upcoming Thanksgiving.

  • 1-1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1-1/2 lbs. red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/3 c. half-and-half cream
  • 1/3 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives (optional)

Heat oven to 375 F. Bring potatoes and water to cover by one inch to boil in large pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Heat half-and-half cream, chicken broth, butter, garlic, mustard, and salt in saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth, about five minutes. Keep warm. Drain potatoes and transfer to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle and mix on medium-low speed, slowly adding half-and-half cream, until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time for about 1 minute. Add in chives. Transfer potato mixture to greased 2-quart baking dish and use fork to make peaked design on top. Bake until potatoes rise and begin to brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve.

Yield: 6 servings.
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Cook time: 55 minutes.
Ready time: 1 hour, 5 minutes.

Baked Potato Nachos

  • 1-1/2 lbs. russet potatoes
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. Mexican seasoning blend
  • 1 c. Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1/4 c. rinsed and drained canned black beans
  • 1/4 c. diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. sliced black olives
  • 1/4 c. sliced green onions
  • 3 tbsp. canned diced green chilies
  • Salsa, guacamole and sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Scrub potatoes and cut into half-inch-thick wedges. Place potatoes into a medium-size bowl with the oil, garlic salt and Mexican seasoning. Stir well to coat potatoes with oil and seasonings. Transfer to a large baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring several times, until crisp and golden brown. Top with cheese, beans, tomatoes, olives, onions and chilies. Bake for five minutes more to melt cheese. Optional, serve with salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

Calories: 308, Fat: 16 g, Cholesterol: 32 mg, Sodium: 659 mg, Vitamin C: 37 per cent, Fibre: 5 g, Protein: 13 g, Potassium: 913 mg.

Yield: 4 servings.
Prep time: 25 minutes.
Cook time: 35 minutes.
Ready time: 1 hour.

Fast and Fit Clam Chowder

Use a russet-type potato for this kid-friendly soup that’s ready in half an hour.

  • 1 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1 c. chopped leeks or onions
  • 1 c. diced red and/or green bell peppers
  • 2 cans (6-1/2 oz. each) chopped clams in clam juice
  • 2 lbs. (6 medium) potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 can (14-1/2 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 c. low-fat milk
  • 1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen whole kernel corn, thawed and drained
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Place butter in 2-1/2- to 3-quart microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH one minute. Add leeks and bell peppers; microwave on HIGH three minutes. Drain juice from clams into microwaved vegetables, reserving clams. Stir in potatoes, broth and thyme. Cover with plastic wrap, venting one corner. Microwave on HIGH 20 minutes. With slotted spoon remove four cups cooked potatoes; set aside. Pour contents of bowl into container of electric blender; add milk, and holding lid down tightly, blend until smooth. Return mixture to bowl. Stir in reserved clams and potatoes, the corn and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Microwave on HIGH three minutes until heated through. If desired, pass bowls of shredded cheddar cheese, chopped parsley and/or crumbled cooked bacon to stir into soup.

Calories: 308, Fat: 5 g, Cholesterol: 15 mg, Sodium: 799 mg, Fibre: 7 g, Protein: 13 g.

Yield: 6 servings.
Ready time: 30 minutes.

All the above recipes courtesy of the United States Potato Board. Visit them at

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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