I remember in my calorie counting days, I would opt for the salad bar at lunch. I’d load up on lettuce, beans, carrots, and top it all off with a few good servings of sliced raw button mushrooms convinced they were good for me since they were high in protein and all kinds of minerals. Right? Wrong!
But wait, raw veggies are supposed to have more nutrients than cooked! Right?
Yes, I thought so too. Up until I found out that because mushrooms come from a family of fungi, they have very
different properties than regular veggies. And because of this you shouldn’t eat them the same way you eat veggies.
Here are five things you need to remember when eating good ol’ shrooms:
- First of all, if you haven’t gone down the shroom road before, I highly encourage you to do so! These little surprises of nature just about have it all: they have all the amino acids you need when combined with whole grains, they boost your immune system and fight cancer, and to top it all off, they taste great giving your food a deep, earthy flavor.
- It is absolutely critical that you always, always, always cook your mushrooms! I don’t care if they are served raw at a salad bar. DO NOT eat them. When you cook your mushrooms, you will accomplish two things: 1) you’ll be able to digest them properly and get all the nutritional benefits I talked your ear off about in point #1, and 2) it removes most of the carcinogens that you’ll find in raw mushrooms (turns out, there are plenty, which leads me to point #3):
- Ideally, stay away from button and the Portobello variety. This is because this particular variety of mushrooms contain a lot more carcinogenic substances, such as agaritine and gyromitrin. You can get rid of most of the carcinogens through cooking, but in my opinion, why take the chance?
- Play with the Asian varieties. There is nothing to be afraid of! You’d treat them just like you would your button mushrooms only the Asian kind will give you so much more in return. The most common Asian varieties are shiitake, oyster, maitake and enoki. These have anti-viral, immune-boosting, and cancer-fighting properties like you’ve never seen before! And your taste buds will appreciate them too: they are so much more flavorful than the buttons.
- And finally, there are plenty of ways to cook your mushrooms: saute them in olive oil, grill with a little teriyaki sauce, throw them into soup or stew, add them to pasta or risotto, cook them lightly in a stock with veggies – as you can see, you can really go to town; and stay there.
I am still discovering mushroom cooking myself so bare with me. Here are two recipes that turned out really good. I will continue to add to the collection as I go on with my mushroom adventure:
What do you like or dislike most about cooking with mushrooms?