My mom and husband have always loved mushrooms but it’s been an acquired taste for me. I was always put off by the chewy texture and unappealing appearance. Now that I’m focused on eating healthier and doing some research, I know that mushrooms have many health benefits. So now I’m learning to love mushrooms.
Benefits of Eating Mushrooms
According to Dr. Michael Greger, in his book “How Not To Die“, mushrooms contain a unique collection of micronutrients that may boost immune function by providing an anti-inflammatory effect. He also notes that in studies, mushrooms have been shown to offer protection from some types of cancers. If you get his book, head to the index for all the references to mushrooms.
Although Dr. Greger doesn’t include mushrooms in his Daily Dozen Checklist, he does encourage cooking them versus eating them raw.
Common Mushrooms And How To Clean
The most common types of mushrooms in most grocery stores are white mushrooms (the most common), cremini mushrooms, and portabello mushrooms. Because of how I use mushrooms in cooking, I’ll usually get whichever of these is organic and cheapest. I’ll buy them whole and not presliced.
I find that it’s best not to buy them until you know you’re going to use them. You don’t want them hanging out in the original packaging in the refrigerator for too long. Once you bring them home, plan on using them within a couple of days.
You might also consider buying bigger quantities from Sams Club or Costco. Usually, you’ll find organic options in both of these places which I prefer and you’ll save money. I recently made a ground taco meat alternative using mushrooms and then froze some for later use. After thawing them out later, the texture was just the same so freeze away. I’ve not tried freezing them whole though. If you’ve tried freezing them whole I’d love to hear how that worked out.
Culinary Uses For Mushrooms
There are many ways to use mushrooms. There are recipes that include mushrooms as supporting ingredients and some that make them the star ingredient. There are also recipes that disguise them to be used as a meat replacement. No matter what the recipe, mushrooms impart lots of flavor and umami to any dish.
Here are some ways that mushrooms are used in cooking.
A Ground Beef Replacement
One of the best ways I found to use and eat mushrooms is as a ground beef replacement. Depending on your desired and preferred texture you can use them alone or in combination with other ingredients like walnuts or cauliflower. I will rough chop my mushrooms, with stems, and process them in a food processor with spices and chopped walnuts to create a ground beef substitute. I found this to work great in creating taco or burrito meat and in a meat-based spaghetti sauce. I just brown the mushroom mixture as I would brown ground been then incorporate the other ingredients to make my dish.
Looking for a vegan taco recipe to try featuring mushrooms and walnuts? Check out this recipe by NoraCooks.com.
Or try this mushroom bolognese recipe by EatSomethingVegan.com with your favorite pasta.
Add-Ins To Chili, Soups, And Sauces
Another easy way to prepare and eat mushrooms is to slice or dice them and add them to chili, soup, or sauce. Depending on how prominent you want the mushrooms you can find a recipe to match. Or you can just add mushrooms as an extra ingredient to just about anything. Most of the bases start with onions and then add in the other vegetables along with the mushrooms.
One of my favorite ways is to add diced mushrooms to my vegetarian chili. It’s so good and hearty you don’t even miss the meat. One of my favorite chili recipes is from LoveandLemons.com and it’s made in the instant pot. The recipe doesn’t include mushrooms but you can easily add them in with the veggies.
For the upcoming holiday season, you might want to try swapping out the turkey gravy with mushroom gravy. Here’s a yummy recipe for mushroom gravy by food blogger and author Sam at ItDoesntTasteLikeChicken.com. Or you could add mushrooms to your stuffing recipe. Here’s a recipe for vegan stuffing that includes mushrooms. I’ll be trying this stuffing recipe this year.
Making Mushrooms The Star Of The Plate
If you really want to highlight the mushroom you might consider making your mushrooms the feature of your meal. You could make mushroom steaks (recipe from ElaVegan.com) or burgers using portobellos, or you could try a stuffed mushroom recipe like this one from MinimalistBaker.com. Since I’m more recently leaning into and learning to love mushrooms, I haven’t made these types of recipes yet. I will eventually start experimenting with these.
Recipes For Learning To Love Mushrooms
If you have some recipes use include or feature mushrooms that you love please share them in the comments below. If you looking for more recipe suggestions for learning to love mushrooms, check out a couple of my favorite cookbooks like Love & Lemons Everyday Cookbook and Fast Easy Cheap Vegan.
Join me in learning to love mushrooms!