One Potato, Two Potato – Brain Food and More!


The unsung, but versatile potato …

When you think of recovery, do you think about a potato? I bet your answer is a hard no. Well, I am going to change your mind. To start, I am going to go way back to the beginning and share a little history with you about the potato


Potato History

Let’s go back in time 4,000 years. The potato was the staple food for the Incas, South American Indians who ruled an empire in the early 1500’s. The Inca’s were known for many things, including creating a highway system with over 18,000 miles of roads, a sophisticated “postal system” that operated like a relay race. And they were the first people to cultivate the potato. The potato, known as a member of the “nightshade family,” is a hardy plant because it can grow where corn cannot. 


We now know that the potato is a valued source of pyridoxine, Vitamin B6, which helps proper functioning of the nervous and immune systems. 


Now you are probably thinking, what does that all have to do with recovery? Just wait… I’m getting there. 


Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is a group of symptoms that occur as a result of abstinence from addictive chemicals/substances. Symptoms usually peak in intensity three to six months after sobriety begins. This can be frustrating for most, because you think you will feel better the longer you are sober. PAWS can be hard, but it’s possible to overcome!


A few symptoms include:

  • Inability to think clearly 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Memory trouble 
  • Emotional distancing or overreactions 
  • Physical coordination problems 
  • Stress sensitivity 


So… Back to the potato


The potato is a good source of Vitamin B6! A deficiency of Vitamin B6 produces Post- Acute Withdrawals (PAWS) like symptoms, cognitive problems, and depression.


Do you believe me now? 

potato chef with potatoes

Sanford House Chef, Mackenzie Marckini with subject at hand …


What do you call a potato after it’s been sliced? 




Loaded Baked Potato Casserole 


Nonstick cooking spray or oil

 6 slices bacon 

4 russet potatoes (scrubbed clean) and cut into 1-inch chunks 

Salt and pepper 

6 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups shredded cheese- preferably cheddar 

2/3 cups sour cream

2 green onions thinly sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and spray a 3-quart casserole dish with spray or oil
  2. Cook bacon on skillet over medium heat and stir occasionally until brown and crispy (6-7 minutes), take off heat and place bacon on a paper towel lined plate. Break or chop into little pieces
  3. Put potatoes into casserole dish and toss with a drizzle of oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes in oven until soft, roughly 45 minutes 
  4. Meanwhile, mix cream cheese and 1 cup of the shredded cheese into a bowl
  5. Once potatoes are done cooking, put cream cheese/ shredded cheese mixture over potatoes and the remaining shredded cheese and bake for another 13 minutes
  6. Dollop sour cream evenly over casserole and sprinkle with bacon and green onions.



women holding knife

House Chef Mackenzie is responsible for all aspects of nutrition and wellness programming at Sanford. Her smiling face is a bonus to the delicious food she provides. Her groups on nutrition, exercise and wellness are some of our clients' favorites. Mackenzie has her Culinary Degree from Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. She also has a certificate in Hospitality Management. And was awarded 2019 Junior Culinarian of the Year from the American Culinary Federation. Mackenzie writes about all aspects of wellness, nutrition and the importance of eating healthily in early recovery. In her free time, Mackenzie coaches Special Olympics. She is also Marketing Chair on the board of directors of the American Culinary Federation of Grand Rapids.