Guest Post: How to Incorporate Mushrooms Into Your Diet by Jennifer Molnar

Mushrooms are clearly beneficial as both foods and drugs. The question is, how can we benefit from their unique disease-fighting and health-promoting properties?

One option is mushroom supplements. While mushroom tonics, powders and extracts have been popular in Asian countries for a while now, Canada is catching up: there are already a handful of licensed natural health products containing reiishi and shiitake extracts for immune system support.

An even better (and more delicious) option is to simply eat more mushrooms. Mushrooms contain a lot of things that are good for us. “A 100-gram serving of fresh white mushrooms—about 4 or 5 medium-sized mushrooms—has only 25 calories, no cholesterol and is virtually fat-free,” says Brittany Stager, Marketing Manager at Mushrooms Canada. To add to their health-conscious nutrient profile, mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light (most commercial type have) are a good source of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that is typically obtained only from animal-based products like meat, poultry and seafood (20). “Just one serving of shiitakes can provide up to 48% of your daily requirement for vitamin D,” Stager explains. Better yet, mushrooms contain dietary fibre, are low in sodium and are a good source of riboflavin, copper, selenium, niacin and panthothenic acid.

To find fresh, tasty mushrooms, look no further than your neighbourhood grocery store or farmer’s market for locally grown finds. According to Stager, many of the most popular types are produced right here in Canada. “There are seven varieties of fresh mushrooms grown in Canada,” she says. “White, crimini, portobella, shiitake, oyster, king oyster and enoki are all grown and harvested from coast to coast every day of the year.” Even thick slices of the melon-sized giant puffball have been known to appear at Ontario farmer’s markets from time to time.

To up your mushroom intake, Stager recommends adding half a cup of white button mushrooms to your omelette instead of cheddar, or tossing diced grilled portabella with pasta in lieu of sausage. These swaps will cut your sodium intake by a significant amount and provide you with extra potassium. Not bad for a fungus.

Any way you slice it, the world as we know it simply wouldn’t exist without fungi. Through reading this and the other wonderful articles in this volume, I hope you have gained an appreciation for—or at the very least, an understanding of—these fascinating organisms and their contribution to food, health and medicine. And maybe, just maybe, you will come to love mushrooms as much as I do.

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Thanks so much Jennifer for joining us as a guest blogger. For those of you who missed Jennifer’s first post on Medicinal Mushrooms, you can find it here.

Don’t forget to follow Jennifer over on her blog The best thing I ever ate…and then some, and on Twitter.

Mushroom Storage: Keep them in a Brown Paper Bag

“What’s with the brown paper bags?” It’s a common question. The answer is pretty simple, it keeps them fresher for longer.

You see, the brown paper absorbs excess moisture, allowing the mushrooms to breathe, whereas plastic traps moisture causing the mushrooms to absorb it. That is precisely why mushrooms kept in plastic bags in your fridge will go slimy.

Refrigeration is also key. Keep them cold and they won’t get old! At room temperature, mushrooms lose colour and flavour quickly. It is said that for every hour a mushroom is left in room temperature, the shelf life decreases by 8 hours. The same rule applies to packaged mushrooms. If the package is unopened, the mushrooms will store well in the refrigerator. Once the package is opened, place the mushrooms in a paper bag.

Brown paper bags + Refrigeration = tasty and delicious mushrooms for days!

Slimming Down with Mushrooms

I’m getting excited for my Californian getaway, so excited in fact that I’m already laying out the contents of my suitcase over a month early! And with that, of course, I am laying out the bathing suits. I’m holding the bikini’s up to me in the mirror, over my jeans and sweater and over my “winter-bod”, wondering how I’m going to pull this miracle off.

Thank goodness March is Nutrition Month here at Mushrooms Canada, where great, slimming recipes are boundless! I always love using mushrooms as a meat supplement, especially since I’m not keen on a lot of meat in my diet anyway. Try this quick Vegetarian Mushroom Stroganoff recipe using Portabella mushrooms, which are a good source of potassium and give a meat-like texture- you will never know the difference!!

For a nice, light lunch, I always turn to a tasty salad. This Bistro Mushroom and Salmon Salad is a great twist on the traditional Nicoise salad and is an excellent source of fibre and protein. Not only is this a meal that tastes great, but also one that will make you feel full – and on just over 300 calories!

Since I haven’t quite hit the Californian sun yet, I have to find tastier ways to heat up in this cool weather. A perfect solution to both my sun and bathing suit problems is this Mushroom and Split Pea Soup at a mere 180 calories per serving. Researchers have found that people who eat satisfying portions of foods that are less energy-dense have greater success at weight loss and maintenance.

With such great lo-cal meal options, I really have no excuse not to be beach-bod ready. Eating healthy and making it with mushrooms, I’m finding, can really taste great! How are you incorporating mushrooms into your nutritional mealtimes?

– Shannon

Recipe of the Month: Sausage & Asiago Stuffed Mushrooms with Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients
20 large mushrooms, cleaned with stem removed and saved for later use
2links Italian sausage
1 tsp dried rosemary OR 2 tsp fresh, finely chopped
1 tsp dried fennel seed
1 onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz (120grams) cream cheese
3 oz (90grams) Asiago cheese, grated
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Method
In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms with the balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in a preheated 350* oven for about 30 min. Stir once or twice. Remove from oven. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over medium high heat, squeeze the sausage meat out of the casing and cook until no longer pink, breaking it apart with the back of a spoon. You want it fairly crumbly and in small pieces. Stir in onions and garlic and spices, and cook a few minutes longer, until onion is softened. (If you find that your sausage filling is too greasy, drain it on paper towel first before adding the cheese.) Remove from heat and place into a bowl, along with the cheeses (save some of the Asiago for topping). Stir well to combine. Take a teaspoon and fill each mushroom cap. Sprinkle with remaining Asiago. Bake at 375* for about 30-40 minutes, until golden. Can easily be doubled if feeding a large crowd.
Recipe adapted from Food 52.

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Renee Kohlman is a chef and food blogger at Sweet Sugar Bean, living in Saskatoon, Sask. When not whipping up good things in her little green kitchen, you can find Renee outside in the garden, admiring her tomatoes and smelling the sweet peas. Unless it’s winter of course, then you can find her cocooned with a good book, DVDs of “Mad Men,” and too much chocolate.

Mushrooms Go PINK Raises $59,123 for Breast Cancer

This past October, Canadian mushroom growers joined forces with the Breast Cancer Society of Canada to support research for the prevention, early detection and treatment of breast cancer. For every kilogram of fresh mushrooms sold in the PINK packages from September 19 to November 11, Canadian Mushroom Farmers made a contribution to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.

Again, Canadian mushroom farmers far exceeded their fundraising goal of $25,000, raising a grand total of $59,123.31.

“We are proud to make this donation,” says Frank Moscone, President of Mushrooms Canada. “This is an important cause, and Canadian Mushroom Farmers showed their commitment once again.”

We “Liked” your help!

Try these delicious mushroom recipes:

For more information on the link between Mushrooms & Breast Cancer visit www.MushroomsGoPINK.ca.
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“Canadian mushroom growers and their employees are justifiably proud of their donation of $59,123.31. to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. The farm-gate price they received from retailers for PINK mushrooms in October was the same as they get for non-PINK mushrooms year-round. There were no premiums because the mushrooms were PINK. And consumers paid the same price for PINK as they did for non-PINK. Mushroom growers made these donations out of their own pockets and the Beast Cancer Society was overwhelmed by their generosity.”

Participating Mushroom Farms:
Mushrooms Canada
All Seasons Mushrooms Inc., Langley & Abbotsford, BC & Airdrie, AB
Avina Fresh Mushrooms Inc., Abbotsford, BC
Carleton Mushroom Farms, Osgoode, ON
Champ’s Mushroom Inc., Abbotsford, BC
Champag Inc., Vercheres, QC
Continental Mushroom, Metcalfe, ON
Highline Produce, Leamington, Kingsville & Wellington, ON
Loveday Mushroom Farms, Winnipeg, MB
Monaghan Mushrooms, Campbellville, ON
Peeters Farm Products, Charing Cross, ON
Piccioni Bros Mushrooms, Dundas, ON
Prairie Mushrooms 2010 Ltd., Ardrossan, AB
Ravine Mushroom Farms Inc., Woodbridge & Aylmer, ON
Rol-Land Farms Mushrooms Inc., Blenheim, ON & Summerside, PEI
Windmill Farms, Ashburn, ON