Although mushrooms are classified as vegetables, technically they are not plants but part of the kingdom called fungi. However, they share some characteristics with plants and, as you will find out, even with animals! Mushrooms are low in calories, have virtually no fat and no cholesterol, and are very low in sodium. Three ounces of raw mushrooms, about 1 cup, provide 1 to 2 grams of protein. Mushrooms contain an indigestible carbohydrate called chitin that contributes “bulk” to our diet. Chitin is also found in shrimp and crab shells but not in plants. Mushrooms provide the B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, which are especially important for people who don’t eat meat. Most mushrooms are also a good source of selenium and potassium.
Surprisingly, mushrooms also provide a small amount of vitamin D and can increase their vitamin D content when they are exposed to light, just like our skin makes vitamin D from sunlight. No other “vegetable” can to do that! Look for high vitamin D mushrooms in your grocery store.
Best of all, mushrooms are delicious. Sauté them with onions, add them to casseroles, stuff them or enjoy a grilled portabella burger. Canned mushrooms, especially if they are marinated, make a great salad topping. You are probably familiar with white mushrooms, brown buttons called crimini and their mature stage called portabellas. But don’t be in the dark about oyster, shiitake, maitake, and enoki mushrooms. Try these in place of white mushrooms in your recipes. You can also reconstitute dried porcini or chanterelles in hot water and add to soups and stuffings for a wonderful flavor boost.
If you are watching your weight, substitute mushrooms for some of the meat in a recipe. You’ll reduce calories and fat but the meal will be just as satisfying.
Try this easy and flavorful mushroom recipe:
|Makes 4, 1/4-cup servings|
|Prep time: 10 minutes + refrigeration|
|Cook time: 5 minutes|
|Clean mushrooms by brushing off particles, then rinse quickly. Slice mushrooms into quarters. In a medium skillet, heat the 1 teaspoon of canola oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until slightly soft but not limp.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add the sautéed mushrooms and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving, if desired.
Serve on French bread slices as an appetizer. May also be served as a topping for garden salads or as a side dish or garnish for meats.
|Nutrition information per serving: 60 Calories, 5 g Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 4 g Carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g Protein, 135 mg Sodium.|