All this month I’m making it fun to eat better with my 30-Day Challenge “Half Plate Produce” in the spirit of National Nutrition Month’s theme “Enjoy the taste of eating right!”
Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)
Feature Produce of the Day: Mushrooms
Do you want to live forever? Are you looking for a powerful aphrodisiac? Or are you hoping to develop superhuman strength? If you lived in any number of ancient civilizations – Egypt, Rome, China – you might have turned to mushrooms in the hopes of meeting these goals.
Unfortunately, it seems that there is no secret elixir to immortality, BUT adding mushrooms to your diet can help improve your health and just might make your life a little longer. And with all the wonderful varieties of mushrooms available at most grocery stores, it’s fun and easy to eat more mushrooms.
In the past, mushrooms were deemed healthy because of what they don’t contain: lots of calories or fat. But today we know that mushrooms are also rich in many nutrients that help us stay healthy and strong.
Vitamin D helps build strong bones, supports our immune systems, and may help prevent cancer. It’s estimated that 1 billion people in the world are deficient in Vitamin D, and it’s one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the US.
Mushrooms are one of the only produce sources of Vitamin D.
Mushrooms are one of the only plant-based sources of Vitamin B12 (along with quinoa), so these little guys are especially great for anyone who doesn’t eat meat or other animal products. They add an unbeatable rich “umami” (savory) flavor and richness to food – another perk of that rich umami flavor is that it means mushrooms need very little salt for a whole lot of flavor.
As with so many fruits and vegetables, mushrooms are rich in antioxidants. Mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, which research suggests is linked to fighting cancer and inflammation. Additionally, mushrooms contain Ergothioneine, an antioxidant that may protect the body’s cells.
As a dietitian, it’s no secret that I love the wonderful nutrient profile of mushrooms, but another thing I love is their versatility. Throwing some mushrooms into any meal is a great way to get half that plate full of produce. Here are a few of my favorite tips:
The trend is to blend! Blend finely chopped mushrooms into any of your favorite ground meat dishes, like meatballs or meatloaf (I like to do about 50% meat 50% mushrooms). You’ll increase the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your meal while decreasing fat and calories. The finely chopped mushrooms blend so well with the ground meat that you’ll barely notice the difference. Plus, substituting mushrooms for meat is a smart choice for your wallet, too!
Try these mushroom meatballs – I serve them with fresh marinara, pasta, and a big green salad on the side. It’s comfort food gone veggie.
The Mushroom Channel has a great resource, The Blendability Calculator, that will show you the nutritional difference and money saved when you blend mushrooms with your meat.
Use mushrooms to replace meat in any recipe. I love grilled portabella caps – just drizzle them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and throw them on the grill. I also like to use mushrooms in eggs, pasta, and tacos. These flavorful Chipotle Mushroom Tacos make a great quick weeknight meal.
Let Mushrooms Be the Star
Often mushrooms are added as an afterthought (picture a few paltry slices on a pizza) which is a shame, because they can be real showstoppers. I like to keep it simple and sautee a bunch of shrooms with olive oil and then add fresh parsley/thyme and a little lemon juice. Mushrooms also roast beautifully in a hot pan or oven. Serve them alongside a piece of chicken and green veggies and you have a balanced meal with half a plate of produce.
Hungry for More Mushrooms?
If you want more tips about how to incorporate more mushrooms into your meals check out The Mushroom Channel website, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Your Turn to Share
I’ve shared my tips and now I want to hear yours! What are some of your fave creative ways to add mushrooms into your diet? Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)
(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this blog post.)
Filed under: cooking, eating healthy, food, nutrition, recipes, vegetables | Tagged: 30 day challenge, mushrooms, nutrition, recipe, vegetables | Leave a comment »