Did you know that mushrooms are neither a fruit nor a vegetable? This nutritious food is actually part of the fungi family! Mushrooms are extremely versatile in recipes and also have several health benefits. Each year on April 16th National Day of the Mushroom is celebrated to put this food in its well-deserved spotlight.
Mushrooms gained their popularity in the culinary world in the 19thcentury when French chefs began using them in their dishes. Since then, they have become a widely used ingredient in recipes ranging from soups, to pastas, to pizza toppings! There are many different types of mushrooms, however grocery stores typically sell five varieties.
Five Fungi Favorites:
- White mushrooms– also known as a button mushroom, this is the most common type sold at the store. Harvesting these mushrooms at the beginning of their growing period gives them their light earthy flavor.
- Cremini mushrooms– these are considered to be a more mature white button mushroom, and are found to be more flavorful.
- Portobello mushrooms– these mushrooms are white button mushrooms when they are at their most mature level. The caps of Portobello mushrooms are fully grown out, making them dark and large. Their texture is described as “meaty”, which makes them an excellent replacement for meat in dishes.
- Shiitake mushrooms– these mushrooms are native to Japan, China, and Korea. They are known for their umami flavor, which means savory. Adding these to a dish will really increase the flavor profile.
- Porcini mushrooms– these mushrooms are commonly found in Italian dishes and are described as having a nutty and creamy flavor.
Mushrooms are loaded with various vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of B-vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. These vitamins help provide your body with energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates as well as maintain healthy red blood cells, promote healthy skin and aid in the production of hormones.
Along with those vitamins, mushrooms almost provide you with a number of minerals:
- Selenium functions as an antioxidant, which helps to protect against heart disease or cognitive declines due to aging.
- Copper maintains bone health and is necessary for the production of red blood cells, which are vital for oxygen transport.
- Potassium is important for fluid balance and regulating blood pressure. It works in conjunction with sodium.
- Vitamin D is important for your teeth and bone health as well as regulating the calcium and phosphorus in your body. It also plays a role in keeping your immune system functioning properly. Mushrooms are one of the few food sources where vitamin D can be found naturally.
There are many ways that you can incorporate mushrooms into your meals. They can be added raw to salads, sautéed and added to pasta, creamed to make soups, or even used as a beef patty replacement for burgers.
If you’re looking for recipe ideas, click the links below to see my mushroom recipes!
- Dilled Mushroom and Asparagus Quinoa Salad
- Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Mushroom Buckwheat Burgers
If you find yourself turned off to certain mushrooms because of their texture, try preparing alternate varieties in different ways. There’s no wrong way to eat a mushroom!
Your Turn to Take Action: How will you prepare mushrooms this week? Let me know in the comments below!