Mushrooms: Fun With Fungi
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 meatloaf 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.