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Mushrooms: Fun With Fungi

by Sandy Todd Webster on Jan 03, 2013

Food Focus

There’s nothing like a busload of dietitians geeking out over a single food ingredient and the great things it can offer one’s body and tastebuds.

Last October a field trip led by Leah McGrath, RD, at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Philadelphia, gave RDs the opportunity to do just that. The group got its fill of facts and deliciousness during an excursion to a Pennsylvania mushroom farm and a luncheon featuring a tasting menu that included mushrooms at every turn. Lunch was even capped by a unique dessert of vanilla genoise with chocolate ganache, layered with a syrup-soaked portabello.

Here are some great facts about mushrooms, researched and shared by McGrath:
  • Like humans, mushrooms manufacture their own vitamin D. Eating mushrooms--even picked ones that have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation, like that in sunlight--can be an excellent way to supplement your "D" levels, which many people lack. Tip: Before you prepare your mushrooms, put them on the windowsill in direct sunlight for 15-30 minutes to boost the vitamin content.
  • The vegetable is low in calories, is fat-free and can be used as a meat substitute or a filler in many dishes. Consider adding it to hamburger mix or to meatlof to cut down on animal protein and increase veggie intake.
  • Mushrooms are low in sodium. Their unique “umami” (earthy) flavor counterbalances saltiness and allows for lower salt usage without compromising taste.
  • Mushrooms provide B vitamins--including riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid-- which help in breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
  • A portabella cap has more potassium per 100-gram serving than a banana; potassium plays a role in blood pressure control.
  • Mushrooms are among the best dietary sources of ergothioneine, an antioxidant known for its role in strengthening immunity.
Try this month’s recipe--Mexican Mushroom Chili With Beans and Barley--to see how this superfood can be used as a delectable meat substitute. Learn more about mushrooms at www.mushroominfo.com.

IDEA Food and Nutrition Tips, Volume 2, Issue 1

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.