Are you tired of telling your kids to “Eat your veggies”? Tater tots have been a staple of school lunches and family dinners in the USA. It was launched in 1956 when Ore-Ida’s founder developed a method to reuse potato pieces. Since they’re baked and not fried this side dish can be a healthy food as a good source of carbs, potassium, and fiber. That said, you can also go with other veggie tots recipe that can encourage your kids to eat more vegetables. While potato starch is a good source of energy, there are other important nutrients available in other plant-based foods like veggie tots recipes.
The original tater tots were made by adding flour and spices to the spuds before cooking them. While these are the basics for veggie tots you can add other ingredients like cheese, fruit, and herbs. This dish can get your kids to eat more hated veggies like broccoli, turnips, and (wait for it) Brussels sprouts. The key to getting your kids to eat their vegetables is to spice them up with taste and texture so they forget they’re eating plant-based food. Tots are a good option to achieve this goal and make veggies more kid-friendly.
What’s the Deal with Veggie Tots?
Tater tots are easily the most famous variety of this old-school side dish. In fact, “tots” usually refer to the original spuds-based variety. It was developed by the frozen food company Ore-Ida in the 1950s. The US company is under the umbrella company Kraft Heinz. Ore-Ida produces several potato-based items including tater tots and French fries.
In early 1950, the company’s founders started figuring out how to reuse potato slivers made during the production of various potato items. The tots were made by chopping up the potato slivers, adding flour/spices, forming a uniform size, then cooking.
Americans consume over 70 million pounds (32 million kg) of tater tots every year. They’re offered at supermarket frozen food sections, school lunchrooms, and fast-food restaurants. They’re also known by other names throughout the world like Spud Puppies (Canada), Oven Crunchies (UK), and Potato Gems (Australia). However, these are all the same basic food.
Here’s what you get from one serving of tater tots:
- Calories: 170
- Carbs: 20g
- Protein: 2g
- Fat: 8g
- Fiber: 2g
- Potassium: 260mg
Here are the takeaways. Calories work out to about 8% of a 2,000-calorie diet. It’s not a sky-high figure and you’re getting a good amount of carbs and potassium. So this is a good source of starchy grains/veggies for your lunch or dinner.
Then there are macro/micronutrients. The carbohydrates aren’t low-carb even with net carbs of 18g. That said, you’re getting “good” carbs that provide instant energy. Next, the 1.5g of saturated fat provides a good ratio of saturated/unsaturated fat.
The main vitamin/mineral you get is potassium. There’s also a total of 1mg of iron so the baked potato food is just high in potassium.
Tater tots are technically veggie tots. However, you can use other starchy or non-starchy veggies along with other ingredients for more variety.
Veggie Tots Recipe Ideas
- Brussels Sprouts: You can turn the little cabbages into tasty tots. The key is to add stuff like cheese, bread crumbs, and herbs/spices to counter the cruciferous veggie’s bitter taste.
- Mixed Veggies: This one gets several veggies including carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, and zucchini. The combination provides a wide range of flavors, textures, and nutrients. You can add cheese, panko, herbs, and spices.
- Butternut Squash: This tot can be made with limited ingredients like bread crumbs, onions, and sage. You can also make a tasty mustard-based dipping sauce if you want to spice things up.
- Carrot/Cauliflower: This one gets the Vitamin A and Vitamin C veggie. These are both superfoods so it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. You also get lots of munchy-crunchy goodness from both veggies.
- Spaghetti Squash: This one is interesting because it’s veggie pasta that’s turned into a veggie tot. You can add stuff like Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
- Potato, Cheese, and Apple: This is Tater Tots 2.0 because it’s paired with other ingredients like cheese and apple. If you’re a big fan of spuds but want a change of pace then gouda is a good choice.
- Sweet Potato: The white potato’s cousin has many of the same nutrients. However, it also has a high amount of Vitamin A, which provides various benefits like eye/skin health.
- Zucchini: This one gets some basic ingredients like cheddar cheese, bread crumbs, onion, and salt/pepper.
- Broccoli: You can make the “little trees” more popular with your family by adding ingredients like cheese. Panko and Italian breadcrumbs, herbs, and splices add more taste and texture.
- Sweet Potato/Kale: This one combines the nutrients of the root crop and leafy green. You also get the dense texture of the orange potato and light kale for the perfect blend in one tot.
Top Health Benefits of Veggies
Studies show that 20,000+ edible plants exist in the world. Many of them are veggies, along with grains, fruits, nuts/seeds, and herbs/spices. One of the benefits is you won’t get tired of eating the same food over and over. This allows you to try out new veggies that you’ve never heard of.
If you want to lose weight then you should consider adding more veggies to your diet. They’re quite low-calorie and many are also low-carb. The key is to avoid adding unhealthy ingredients that will cause the calories to spike. Some added calories like cheese on broccoli/cauliflower are still worthwhile since you’re getting nutrients like protein and healthy fat.
Vegetables are helpful to lower the risk of serious diseases. They include type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Studies show you can greatly lower your risk of cancer by consuming more fruits and vegetables. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends making them half of your daily diet.
You can only get fiber in plant-based foods. Some good options include grains, nuts/seeds, and fruit skins. Veggies are also another good option. While fiber isn’t digested it can help the digestive system to work better. Make sure to eat more veggies for more fiber/roughage. One way is to avoid peeling vegetable skins since they’re loaded with fiber/vitamins.
This is one of the top benefits of veggies. It’s important to eat a wide variety to get different ones from different vegetables. They include Vitamin A (carrots/sweet potatoes), Vitamin C (cauliflower/broccoli), potassium (potatoes), and iron (bitter gourd).
Every year it seems there’s a new trending superfood. However, the key to good health is to eat a wide range of healthy foods to get your daily value of nutrients like those in veggie tots recipes.