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6 Mistakes You Must Avoid To Make Delicious Potato Salad

6 Mistakes You Must Avoid To Make Delicious Potato Salad

We’re now knee-deep into summer, which means barbecues, family get-togethers, and picnics galore. What do those three things have in common? Lots and lots of food. And if there’s one dish that’s ubiquitous when it comes to summer eating, it’s the good old potato salad.

Indeed, whether you’re cooking up burgers, frying up hot dogs, or crafting a mouth-watering sandwich, nothing goes better on the side during the sweltering summer months than a cool and crisp potato salad.

There’s only one problem: plenty of people manage to prepare it incorrectly, despite their best intentions. Here, I’ll tell you what some of the most common mistakes are, and how to avoid them.

1. Picking the wrong kinds of potatoes.

There are multiple types of potatoes, and each has unique strengths and weaknesses. For example, some are better for boiling and mashing, while others are meant to be sliced, diced, and fried. For potato salad, your goal should be to find potatoes that aren’t starchy, as those are more prone to breaking up while you’re preparing your dish.

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What to do instead:

Instead of picking a starchy potato (like the Russet Burbank potato), go with ‘waxy’ varieties, like Fingerling or Red Bliss potatoes. These are sturdier and more suited to being tossed around and mixed into a salad.

2. Under-seasoning your potatoes.

Many folks forget to season their pot of water with salt before boiling their potatoes. It’s important that you don’t overlook this step, as seasoning your potatoes after boiling them will prevent them from reaching their true flavor potential.

What to do instead:

Preparing potatoes destined for a potato salad is almost like prepping pasta. All you need to do is put a dash of salt in your pot of water before you put your potatoes in.

3. Overheating your potatoes.

It would be a major mistake to dump your potatoes straight into a pot of boiling salty water, as that would leave them spongy on the outside and hard on the inside.

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What to do instead:

The trick is to start with cold, salty water. Put your potatoes in that, and then slowly bring it all to a boil. This way, your spuds cook evenly, which is exactly what you need for a good potato salad.

4. Cooking your potatoes for too long.

Potatoes used in potato salad tread a fine line- they can’t be crunchy, and they can’t be mushy. They need to be somewhere in the middle. Most people overcook in order to err on the side of caution, which leaves them with potatoes that have nearly the same consistency as mashed potatoes.

What to do instead:

In order to get that chunky and soft texture potato salad is famous for, you’ll want to cook them until they are soft enough to be easily penetrated by a fork. You know you’ve overcooked them if your fork causes the potato to break apart. Reaching this sweet spot usually takes anywhere from 8-12 minutes, so you’ll need to monitor your potatoes closely when they reach that threshold.

5. Cutting your potatoes into vastly different shapes and sizes.

When making potato salad, many people get a bit crazy with their knife and chop their potatoes into uneven cubes of varying sizes. This is a huge mistake, as different sized potato cubes cook at different speeds. If all of your cubes are a different size, then you’ll have a potato salad that’s half overcooked and half undercooked.

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What to do instead:

Take the time to cut your potatoes as uniformly as possible. This will make the cooking process much easier, as you’ll be able to tell if all of the cubes are cooked by testing just one of them.

6. Applying the finishing touches at the wrong time.

And by finishing touches, I’m talking about the salad dressing. A common mistake folks make is applying their mayo-based dressing right after the potatoes are done cooking, which warms the mayo up, causing it to melt and lose its texture.

On the flip side, those who use vinaigrette-based dressings often make the mistake of waiting for the potatoes to cool, which makes it harder for them to absorb the flavor.

What to do instead:

If you are using a standard mayo-based dressing, cool down your spuds for about half an hour first and then toss it into your salad. For those opting for a vinaigrette-based dressing, toss it in while your potatoes are still warm, as this will allow the dressing to marinate more effectively, making your salad tastier as a result!

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Did you learn anything here that you plan on applying to your next picnic or family outing? Let me know in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Potato Salad/James via flic.kr

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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