The ‘goods’ on mushrooms
Think fresh mushrooms are only good for salads? Think again! Mushrooms may just be the unsung heroes of the vegetable world. Contrary to their simple appearance, fresh mushrooms have a whole lot going for them. Here are the Top Five Reasons mushrooms are a good food choice that should be enjoyed every day.
Good for You
Mushrooms are making their mark! Recent scientific research has found that fresh mushrooms pack disease-fighting antioxidants and that eating them may be a good way to help protect against breast and prostate cancer, help boost immunity and keep your weight in check.1A half-cup serving of cooked sliced mushrooms (approximately 1 cup raw) has a mere 14 calories, virtually no fat, 1 gram of fibre and is a source of phosphorus, potassium, copper, selenium, niacin and pantothenic acid.2Mushrooms are also a good source of riboflavin.
Good for Healthy Weight
Mushrooms have a lot of good things in them but what they don’t have much of is calories and fat. As they have quite a bit of water, fresh mushrooms are ideal for helping to fill you up and keep you from feeling hungry too quickly. And when you’re not hungry an hour after eating, it’s easier to keep the mindless munching in check.
Good to Go Any Season
Mushrooms are grown year-round in Canada so they’re always fresh and at their peak of flavour. In the spring try a delightful Baked Mushroom and Leek Risotto , keep it cool in the kitchen in summer with zesty Marinated Mushroom, Tomato and Basil Salad, celebrate fall with creamy Fresh Mushroom and Squash Bisque and warm up to winter with a Hearty Mushroom Meatloaf. (For recipes visit www.mushrooms.ca.)
Good for the Environment
Chances are the fresh mushrooms you find in your local grocery store are grown nearby. That means they haven’t traveled long distances, losing important nutrients and wonderful flavour. Nor has a lot of fossil fuel been burned just to transport them, which is healthier for the environment. Because they are grown locally, when you buy fresh mushrooms you are also supporting your local mushroom growers and are playing an important part in the sustainability of our food supply and natural resources.
Good for Fast and Fresh Flavour
Mushrooms make other foods taste even better because they have Umami, which is the fifth taste along with sweet, salty, bitter and sour. They may be complex in taste, but they are easy to prepare, cook and enjoy. Mushrooms can be left whole, quartered, sliced or chopped, and baked, grilled, broiled, sautéed, steamed or stir-fried. They are great for vegetarians as their meaty texture makes them a wonderful substitute for meat in chili, lasagna and tacos. (Check out recipes for Vegetable and Mushroom Tacos and Fresh Mushroom Lasagna at www.mushrooms.ca.) For those who like a little meat but want to keep the fat and calories in check, try substituting chopped fresh mushrooms for a portion of the meat in a recipe. You’ll get full flavour without the fat.
Perfect partners for mushrooms
Mushrooms add plenty of pizzazz and make just about any food more flavourful.
• Barbecued hamburgers and steak. Grill Portabella slices or chunks alongside your meat and serve as a burger topping or as a side dish with your steak. Or sauté white button, crimini or shiitake mushrooms with a little butter, season with salt and pepper and serve. It’s a classic combination that is quick and delicious for casual weeknight dinners yet elegant enough for entertaining on the weekends.
• Cheese. For a quick snack, top whole wheat English muffin halves with provolone or havarti cheese and sliced fresh mushrooms. Broil for 2-4 minutes or until cheese is nicely melted .
• Chicken. Mushrooms and chicken are naturally good together. (Try the recipe for Mushroom and Chicken Chili at www.mushrooms.ca.)
• Eggs. Toss sliced mushrooms into omelettes, frittatas and quiches.
• Green salads. Make the most of your salads by adorning them with fresh mushrooms. Mushrooms add toothsome texture, flavour and extra nutrients .
• Grilled vegetables. When grilling vegetables on the barbecue or in the oven, don’t forget to add the mushrooms. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper.
• Lean white fish. Mushrooms and fish may not be the first thing you think of but once you taste this fabulous flavour pairing you’ll be happy you discovered it. Poached in a little white wine or fish stock, lemon juice and herbs, sliced mushrooms add oomph to nutritious lean white fish such as sole, haddock and tilapia.
• Polenta. Top grilled polenta with a generous spoonful of fresh sliced or chopped mushrooms, sautéed in some olive oil or butter and tossed with fresh herbs such as thyme, salt, pepper and a smidgen of sherry or balsamic vinegar.
• Rice. There is nothing so elegant yet so comforting than a steaming hot bowl of creamy fresh mushroom risotto.
• Whole wheat pasta. What could be easier than cooking up a bowl of hearty whole wheat pasta? Tossing some cooked, sliced mushrooms into the pasta or even the tomato sauce adds a bonus of satisfying meaty texture and appealing taste.
• Sandwiches and Wraps. Sliced fresh mushrooms give lovely crunch and a flavour boost to sandwiches and wraps. In fact, a grilled Portabella mushroom makes a great sandwich “filler” itself! Just layer the mushroom between two slices of whole grain bread and top with some cheese, herbed mayonnaise or some more fresh vegetables.
• Soup. Make canned soups more interesting and more nutritious by adding sliced fresh mushrooms. Simmer for a few minutes to soften the mushrooms if you wish.
For more about the nutrition benefits of mushrooms and information on how to buy, store and cook with mushrooms visit the Mushrooms Canada website at www.mushrooms.ca
1 Beelman RB, Dubost NJ et al. Identification and Quantification of Ergothioneine in Cultivated Mushrooms by Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2005;8:215-222.
2 U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA Nutrient Database Standard Reference, Release 19 at http://www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata . Nutritionals based on ½ cup sliced cooked white mushrooms.
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