While enjoying a plant-based diet, some people are reluctant to place a fungus on the menu but let me encourage you to take a second look at the benefits of including this “ill repute.”
Although it is impossible to discuss every kind of mushroom that there is, after all, there are 10,000 varieties, but here we will consider the most common ones: Portabella (the oldest variety and has a hearty flavor), Cremini, Maitake (fan shaped), Button, Hedgehog, Morel, Shiitake, Porcini, Lobster, Enoki, Chanterelle and Clamshell.
Mushrooms are low in calories, fat and sodium, free from cholesterol, full of vitamins, protein, minerals and antioxidants. Each variety of mushroom is used in a different cultural cuisine, from Italian, Chinese, Thai, Russian, Haitian, Romanian, United Kingdom, Macedonian and many more.
Mushrooms are hearty and filling. Increasing your consumption of mushrooms, which are a low-energy-dense food, will keep the calorie count down, not to mention the load of nutrients that pack a punch:
- Riboflavin, B-2: Aids in hormone production and proper nervous system function
- Niacin, B-3: Helps maintain healthy red blood cells
- Pantothenic Acid, B-5: Promotes healthy skin, digestive and nervous system function
- Folate, B-9: Produces DNA and RNA: produces red and white blood cells in the bone marrow
- Thiamin, B-1: Produces energy and the growth and development of cells
- Selenium: Protects the body cells from damage
- Copper: Produces red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body and keeps the bones and nerves healthy
- Potassium: Maintains normal fluid and mineral balance, stabilizes blood pressure, maintains the proper function of muscles including the heart muscle.
The benefits are enormous.
Favorite Mushroom Gravy
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 dry pint shitake mushrooms – any mushroom will work
2 Tbsp. olive oil or avocado oil
2 Tbsp. unbleached flour
1 carton vegetable stock or broth
1 Tbsp. “chicken” seasoning, or more to taste
1 tsp. each – sage, basil, parsley
Sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil until light brown, then set aside. Sauté the mushrooms until light brown and set aside. Place the flour and the rest of the oil in the pan to brown the flour. Add the broth or stock, seasoning and herbs on medium heat until the gravy starts to thicken. Then add the cooked onion, garlic and mushrooms; simmer for 30 minutes. Serve hot.