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.