Crime Shows, vegan Ted Danson and the perfect baked potato

Feb 02 2012 Published by under Vegan


I love crime shows. Bones, Unforgettable, Psych, White Collar, Sherlock (BBC)… I can watch them for hours. I mourned for weeks when Monk went off the air, and was flabbergasted when Fox cancelled The Chicago Code after only one season. Jennifer Beals was fantastic!

Another of my favorites is CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the one set in Vegas. Though I sometimes watch the Miami and New York spin-offs, they just don’t hold my interest like the original.

I was skeptical when Ted Danson joined the CSI cast last year, replacing Laurence Fishburne. I liked Fishburne’s dark and tormented character Ray Langston, and only knew Danson as a comedic actor. I gave him a chance, though, and I’m glad I did. Danson brings a refreshing lightness to the show as JW McGraw. He’s funny, but not too funny. It works.

I’m even more of a Danson fan since I learned he recently adopted a vegan diet. According to VegNews magazine, Danson says a plant-based diet gives him the energy he needs to keep up with the physical demands of filming CSI. Plant power!

Maybe Danson can make his CSI character a vegan, too. I’d pay good money to see a vegan character that wasn’t just the butt of jokes or a complete and utter flake.


While my favorite crime show characters use their skills to solve robberies, kidnappings, and murders, I most often use my problem-solving abilities to create nutritious vegan meals from simple ingredients. One of my favorites is the loaded baked potato: a fluffy baked potato topped with vegan butter and delicious veggies.

I used to wonder why restaurant baked potatoes tasted so much better than the ones I made at home, until I discovered the secret:  Bake them directly on the oven rack!

If you cook your potatoes wrapped in foil, which is what I used to do, you are actually steaming, not baking, the potato. Steaming keeps the potato skin soft and moist, while baking gives you that crispy outer skin, just like the baked potatoes in a restaurant.

Russet potatoes are good for baking, as are yellow potatoes like Yukon Gold. I typically bake four to six potatoes at a time, and keep them on hand for easy meals throughout the week.  Here’s how to get perfect baked potatoes, every time.

Restaurant-style baked potatoes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash the potatoes thoroughly in cold water. Pierce each potato several times with a fork to allow steam to escape during the baking process.

Put the potatoes in a large bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt (such as sea salt or kosher salt). I also like to add dried herbs and spices such as rosemary, thyme, and garlic powder, but this is optional. Use your hands to coat each potato in the oil, salt, and spices (if using).

Add oil and seasonings
Place the potatoes on the center rack in the oven. I usually put a cookie sheet on the rack below to catch any drippings.

Potatoes right on the rack

Bake at 400 degrees F for 1 hour, turning once, or until tender when pierced with a fork. If you are baking more than 4 potatoes, your cooking time will increase. They should look like this:
Fresh from the oven

To serve, make a small lengthwise slice in the top of the potato, then gently squeeze the potato with your thumb and index finger to pop the potato open.
Squeeze to open

Enjoy your baked potato plain, or with your favorite toppings.  I like mine with sauteed mushrooms and steamed broccoli.

Vegan stuffed baked potato

Potatoes sometimes get a bad rap because they are high in carbohydrates. Potatoes are in fact very healthy if you prepare them in a healthy manner, such as baking or boiling. A medium-sized russet potato (with skin) has about 160 calories, hardly any fat, 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 925 mg of potassium.

Now that I know how to cook them properly, we eat potatoes at least once a week, usually more. They are inexpensive, versatile, and keep for a long time when stored in a cool, dark place.

Do you enjoy potatoes on a regular basis or do you tend to avoid them because of the carbs?

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3 responses so far

  • Liz Zelandais says:

    When I was I kid (or still looked like one anyway), I couldn’t get my baked potatoes open & fluffy enough to get the ingredients nicely distributed. Then when I waited tables in high school, the cook showed me that if after baking a potato, you smack it on the counter (WHACK!), then slit it open, it’s all nice & fluffy and spills out of the skin just inviting all the other ingredients to join in. If you have any anger issues, it’s also therapeutic.

  • Val Osinga says:

    I also like Ted Danson’s character on CSI. I didn’t know he was vegan……interesting. Good tip about smacking the potato on the counter. That pic of the veggies on the tater looks delish. I know what I am having for dinner!

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