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Ma’s Potato Salad: A Healthier Version

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During my first summer after moving to California, my friends and I had a BBQ. I was pretty homesick, and thought “I bet ma has a big bowl of potato salad in the refrigerator right now…” It’s not a fancy recipe, nothing mind blowing or gourmet, and doesn’t have any trendy bacon in it. It’s just a simple, GOOD, potato salad. To cheer myself up, and to bring a little piece of home to my new home, I decided to make it for our BBQ. Honestly, I didn’t care if it was eaten by anyone else but me; I just needed it. I had never made that potato salad myself; I was always the helper, (and official taste tester,) so I was a bit nervous about making it just right.

The time for the party/BBQ had arrived, so I pulled the potato salad out of the fridge, and spooned it in a pretty serving bowl. Let it be known that I’m pretty over-protective about family recipes; I felt anxious about people even trying it. Eating and good-time-having began, people put the potato salad on their plates, and went about the party.

After a little while, I went to wrap up the bowl and stick it back into the fridge, when our friend’s girlfriend approached me. “Can I have some more of that?” she asked. “Sure!” I said, removing the plastic wrap. “Cathy, where did you get this recipe? This is the BEST potato salad I’ve ever had.” she said. “Really?” I asked.

I was shocked. Like I said, this wasn’t a fancy-pants potato salad. Even growing up, I felt like it was pretty standard. And then, I realized there was nothing ordinary about it. Because there’s nothing ordinary, boring, or standard about anything or anyone in my family. The grin on my face must have looked pretty silly, but I smiled wide when I told her, “I got the recipe from my ma.”

Now California was finally starting to feel like home.

A few years have passed, and every summer, I make my ma’s potato salad. But this year, I’ve changed it. Main reason being: the BF and I eat healthier these days, so whenever I can, I try to switch out not-so-healthy ingredients, with healthier ones.

BUT, I’m no idiot. If I ever change a recipe to health-i-fy it, and it truly tastes like shit, there’s NO way I’d ever want to eat it. For example, I’d rather eat a 1/2 teaspoon of real butter than 3 tablespoons of tofu spread. (Not hating on tofu-friends! I’ve just tried it too many times, too many different ways, and have had too many disappointments.)

This is how our dieting has been working for us. Prohibition lead to bathtub gin. This happens in diets as well; complete denial of luxury foods, leads to serious relapses and over-indulging. So go ahead, have a piece of chocolate. Or split that BLT sandwich with a friend.

For this recipe, I was quite surprised when this health-i-fy switch worked.

Of course the base for the dressing of my ma’s potato salad is mayonnaise. But that’s not healthy, at all. So what other substance is cool and creamy, yet healthy? YOGURT! But in the end, the savory, tangy flavors of the mayonnaise were missed. So that’s why, instead of A LOT of mayonnaise, this recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons. Just enough for that flavor, and then the yogurt carries out the rest of the cool and creamy consistency on it’s healthy little shoulders. (Yogurt can have shoulders if it wants to.)

Ingredients for potato salad
  • 2 1/2 lbs of red, or Yukon gold potatoes (skins on!) cut into uniform chunks
  • 1/2 c. celery, diced
  • 1/3 c. green olives, sliced
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and roughly chopped (or sliced if you prefer)
  1. Boil potatoes until fork tender, but NOT mushy. This should take about 15+ minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare hard boiled eggs. You can prepare these a day in advance! Place raw eggs in pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. When the boiling happens, turn OFF the heat, cover the pot, and let the eggs sit in the pot for 10 minutes. Done.
  3. Throw all ingredients into a bowl, and coat with dressing (recipe below). Set into fridge for at least an hour before consuming.
Ingredients for dressing
  • 2 Tbsp mayo
  • 1 c. plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard (Feel free to use brown, dijon, or straight up yellow. I advise against honey mustard though.)
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • s+p

This potato salad makes enough to feed 4-6 people, and will keep in your fridge for up to four days, covered.

Enjoy! 🙂

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