Friday, January 20, 2012

Let the Fungi Begin!

I remember a client once saying to me after I explained a delicious mushroom-based dish I was making, "I don't eat no fungus!"  Oh, but the great tastes one misses out on when unwilling to eat our little fungussy friends.

Mushrooms can add flavor to so many dishes - pizza, pasta, rice (I have my favorite recipe included below), soup, casseroles, salads and lots more.  Not only are they part of our food, but they have been used medicinally for hundreds of years.  They are especially potent in helping with immunity.  The reason is that they naturally absorb and eliminate toxins.

Those white button mushrooms (crimini and portobellas included) are the weakest of the family, but still hold a big punch!  Cancer fighting selenium is plentiful.  They provide a good dose of B-vitamins, copper, phosphorous and manganese, not to mention some calcium, magnesium folate and B12.  There are also some anti-oxidants in there, 2 of which may be stimulants for metabolism and therefore weight loss.  But, more importantly are working to prevent cancer.

If you really want to biggest dose of all of these benefits and more, switch to maitake, shiitake,cordyceps, enoki, and reishi mushrooms.  Shiitakes are more common to find in grocery stores than the others, but try Asian markets.  We are talking major cancer fighting properties and even improvements with diagnosed cancers - most used and studied in Japan where mushroom supplements are very common and commonly used along with other cancer treatment.

It is recommended, however, that you only eat the mushrooms cooked.  In the raw state, there are carcinogens present that are cooked away with heat - use medium heat with olive oil.  Supplements with mushrooms are also available.  They are costly, but might be worth the expense if your health has been compromised.

How will you try to eat mushrooms this week?

A good website to check out:

My recipe:
Wild rice with Grilled Portobella Mushroom

Wild rice Serves 5-6

1 C. Wild rice (6 oz) or a combination rice
4 C water
3-4 TB veg. broth powder (or other flavor)
¼ C olive oil
½ C chopped onions
½ C chopped celery
1 C sliced fresh mushrooms (any type)

1)      Combine rice, water, broth and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a low boil, cover and cook 45-60 min. or until rice has expanded or lost most of the water.
2)      In the meantime, melt butter in a separate pan.  Add onions, celery, and mushrooms.  Sauté.
3)      Add the sauté to the rice when finished and serve with salt and fresh pepper.

Also, add navy beans or black eyed peas for additional nutrition.

Portobella Mushrooms - usually makes one per person
Large portabella mushrooms (5 in. diameters or so)
Feta cheese (plain or flavored)
Olive oil
Pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Above rice dish
Aluminum foil

1)      Heat the grill or oven and prepare aluminum foil, creating a square on which to grill each mushroom – bending up the sides of the foil to make a tray.
2)      Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems.
3)      Sprinkle olive oil on the foil to prevent sticking.  Place the mushrooms on their foil trays and sprinkle with olive oil.
4)      Slice feta thinly and place on the mushroom tops, covering.  Or, just sprinkle crumbles over the top. 
5)      Sprinkle with pine nuts to taste.
6)      Grill for about 20 min. depending on the grill heat and the thickness of the mushrooms.  The mushrooms will be very soft and mushy when done and the feta will be melted and starting to brown.
7)      Serve over rice (ask for my wild rice recipe, if you want!) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

 Tips:  Mushrooms don’t have to be grilled; you can also do this in the oven on a cookie sheet at 350 for the same amount of time.

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