Mashed potatoes may hit the spot when it’s cold and dark outside, but swapping spuds for other winter veg will pack in nutrition as well as comfort.

If it’s cold outside, nothing says ‘comfort’ more than mashed potatoes.

But scoring high on the glycaemic index (GI), potatoes — particularly when mashed — release sugar quickly and can cause a rapid rise in blood sugars, followed by a ‘crash’ that leaves us feeling tired and groggy.

This is because potatoes are rich in starchy carbohydrates, a form of sugar that makes up the food store for the potato plant, and which breaks down easily when digested.

Ringing the changes by swapping potato for a less starchy version loaded with extra veggies or legumes, however, can provide a lighter mash that offers good nutrition as well as comfort.

Swapping to a lower GI option should also make you feel less inclined towards winter hibernation and that post-Sunday lunch snooze.

1. Sweet potato and swede mash

With a lower GI than potatoes, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A — an antioxidant that supports healthy skin, immune health and vision.

But despite their name, they aren’t part of the potato family.

For a sweet potato and swede mash, simmer peeled, sweet potatoes and swede until soft.

Drain and leave to steam in a colander (so that the end result is not too watery) before returning them to the pan to mash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Try zesting in a little lemon or orange for a zap of citrus to match the bright orange colour.

You can also roast the vegetables before mashing them.

This gives a rich taste, but be aware that it may raise the GI because, compared to boiling, roasting causes water loss and degrades the starches.

2. Cauliflower mash

Low in carbohydrates, cauliflower is a good source of fibre and vitamin C.

Simmer florets in boiling water with one or two whole, peeled garlic cloves.

Once tender, drain well (again, you don’t want watery mash) and return to the pan, garlic and all.

Add butter, salt and pepper, and mash with a stick blender.

Or try pepping it up with a spoonful of horseradish, chopped chives or parsley. A little cheese also works a treat.

3. Carrot and ginger mash

Carrot mash is another bright bowlful of beta-carotene, whereas ginger is a traditional remedy for aiding digestion and warding off winter sniffles.

Simmer carrots in lightly salted water until tender, then drain and blend in a processor with a knob of butter, black pepper, and a teaspoon of ground ginger.

Gradually add a splash or two of milk, blending to the right consistency.

4. Butter bean mash

A humble can of butter beans makes nutritious, quick mash and is a natural source of calcium, potassium, protein and fibre.

Sauté garlic in a little olive oil, then throw in a whole sprig of rosemary.

Rinse and drain your beans before adding to the pan for five minutes.

Discard the rosemary and then mash with a stick blender.

5. Pea and mint mash

For kids unswayed by any of these ideas, try a bright green ‘Kermit the Frog’ version instead.

Melt a knob of butter in a pan and add frozen peas.

Warm for about five minutes then whizz in a processor to a coarse mash, stirring through a little finely chopped mint, salt and pepper.

It’s quick, economical, and a good standby from the freezer.

Freshly frozen peas also retain their goodness and are a source of nutrients including beta-carotene, vitamins C and K, iron and protein.

6. Other vegetable mash

Other winter vegetables that work well as part of a mix or on their own include onion, celeriac and squash.

If you still aren’t convinced, try half veg, half potato for a gradual shift.

But if using potato, try keeping the peel because this is where the fibre and vitamin C mostly lies — then just mash potato and do the twist!

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