Tara Gidus

runDisney Training: Broccoli & Cheese Baked Potatoes

When I was growing up, my mom sometimes made "meal in a peel." Simply put, it's a baked potato with various toppings to choose from. You can make it Mexican with leftover taco meat, black beans, cheese and guacamole, or choose Italian with some marinara, Italian sausage and mozzarella. Sometimes I'll make a meal out of a baked potato, cottage cheese on top, and a side salad. Get creative – an endless array of toppings await!

Broccoli and cheese baked potatoes make for a simple vegetarian dinner and runner-friendly food. Too often "white carbs" are dismissed as being fattening and bad for health, but when it comes to white potatoes, they should be a mainstay in the runner's diet. Potatoes are complex carbohydrates and contain resistant starch, meaning they don't break down as quickly as other white carbs like enriched bread.

Potatoes are high in vitamin C, which boosts immunity and fights the common cold. They are also a rich source of potassium, an electrolyte that is lost in sweat and a common shortfall nutrient that we all need to eat more of. White potatoes pack more potassium than a banana. Potatoes are also low in calories and are naturally fat free. In fact, a medium-sized spud has only 110 calories. White potatoes, believe it or not, are comparable to sweet potatoes when it comes to their antioxidant capacity.

Carbohydrates are a major fuel source for runners, and should make up 45-65% of the diet depending on intensity of training. Another benefit of carbs is they are "protein sparing," meaning they help athletes maintain muscle. Keep in mind that carbs are also needed to metabolize fats, as the body requires the presence of carbohydrates to burn fat for energy.

I'd love to see your creations! If you top a potato, I'd love to see what you choose! Tag me @DietDivaTara on Twitter or Instagram. For more nutrition tips for your runDisney training, click here.

Broccoli & Cheese Baked Potato Recipe
Serves 2

2 russet potatoes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped


  1. Before making cheese sauce, wrap potatoes in aluminum foil and bake in 425-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. For a faster method, poke holes in outside of potatoes and steam in microwave for five minutes. Set aside.
  2. In medium-sized saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour to combine and slowly whisk in milk until mixture is fully incorporated. Increase heat to thicken sauce. Stir in cheese and Greek yogurt.
  3. Add chopped broccoli and cook for five minutes until cooked through and turns bright green.
  4. Slice baked potatoes down the center and squeeze skins together to form a hole then pour in cheese sauce. Serve immediately.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.