Feature Friday: Keep school lunches nutritious all year long

Yummy Macaroni, Cheese and Mushrooms

“Already out of lunch ideas after the first weeks of school? Dietitians have some practical tips to help your kids increase their vegetable & fruit and milk product intake which are two problems areas for many school-age boys and girls,” says Mary Sue Waisman, registered dietitian.

Try one or more of these tips to keep lunches nutritious, delicious and fun:
• Keep supplies handy to make packing lunches easier.
• Work with your family to make a list of appealing healthy lunch options and keep it on the fridge so it’s always handy. Make sure there are at least a few favourites on the list for each family member.
• Invite your child into the kitchen to become the lunch-making chef!

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, 59% of Canadian children and adolescents reported consuming less than 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. In addition, 61% of boys and 83% of girls aged 10 to 16 did not get the recommended 3 to 4 servings of milk and alternatives. As a result, your child could be missing out on key nutrients to help them grow well and do their best in school.

100 grams of fresh Canadian mushrooms count as 1 serving of Fruits & Vegetables, and with so many ways to enjoy them, you will have no problem incorporating them into your families meals.
For more meal planning tools and resources visit the Dietitians of Canada’s website.
Delicious mushroom recipe ideas can be found in our Recipe Library.

posted by Brittany

Feature Friday: Prostate Cancer Awareness Week

Did you know that here in Canada, September 14th-18th is Prostate Cancer Awareness Week? It is with good reason, as prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men.

The Canadian Cancer Society statistics estimate that 25,500 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, and 4,400 will die from it.

The good news is, research shows 30 to 35 percent of all cancers can be prevented by eating well, being active and not being overweight. Along with physical activity and not smoking, healthy eating is one of the cornerstones for cancer prevention.

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends choosing 5 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit every day to reap the benefits of their disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. As they are low in calories and fat, have very little carbohydrate and provide some fibre, fresh mushrooms are a delicious way to eat healthy. In addition, emerging research suggests that nutrients in mushrooms, specifically beta-glucans and selenium, may have potent anti-prostate cancer activity.


  • Beta-glucans, a type of carbohydrate, found in Maitake mushrooms, destroyed human prostatic cancers cells in a laboratory setting.


  • Researchers in the Netherlands found that men who ate the most selenium in their diet had a 31% lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
  • Eating foods rich in selenium may also lower the likelihood of developing prostate cancer and slow prostate cancer tumor progression according to results from the Physicians’ Health Study.
  • A single 100 gram serving of fresh crimini mushrooms provides 37% of your Daily Value of Selenium.

More on mushrooms and prostate cancer can be found here:
So your concern is Breast & Prostate Cancer ~ Mushrooms Canada
Breast & Prostate Cancers ~ Mushrooms Canada
Researchers study mushrooms’ cancer-fighting potential ~ City of Hope
What is Prostate Cancer? ~ Canadian Cancer Society

posted by Brittany

The Dirt on Mushrooms

The process of growing mushrooms has mystified people for years, leading to the misconception that mushrooms grow in straight manure. This belief has cause people to clean mushrooms in very unusual ways. From peeling to scrapping out the gills, people will try almost anything to get that dirt off the mushrooms.

Not very often is the question asked, what exactly are those specs of dirt on the mushrooms?

That dirt is most often sterilized peat moss. All Canadian mushroom growers use peat moss as the ‘casing layer’ on the top of the mushroom beds. Mushrooms are grown in beds in large growing rooms. The beds are made of wood, steel or aluminum. Before each crop is planted, the rooms and beds are sterilized at 160°F (71°C) for 24 hours, this ensures they will start with clean equipment.

The beds are then filled with a growth medium called substrate, which supplies carbon and nitrogen nutrients. The substrate is pasteurized at 136°F (58°C) for 8 hours before the mushroom ‘spawn’ are mixed into it. Spawn is mushroom mycelia attached to sterile grain, such as millet or rye. It is the seedstock of mushrooms. Spawn is delivered to the grower, in sealed bags from sterile laboratories that specialize in mushroom mycelia genetics.

In the beds, the substrate layer is about 8 inches (20 cm) thick. Two inches (5 cm) of peat moss is spread over the substrate to supply moisture. This is called the ‘casing layer’. The mushroom mycelia permeate throughout the substrate and grow up through the casing layer. By controlling the temperature, humidity, oxygen and CO2, the grower stimulates the mycelia to form mushrooms on the surface of the peat moss. The whole process from spawning to harvest takes about 14 days.

So what should you do to remove the specs of dirt? Simply give the mushrooms a quick rinse under cold running water and pat dry just before you enjoy them!

posted by Brittany

Feature Friday: Fast and Nutritious Back-to-School Meals

Mushroom Stuffed PitaGet your pencils, books and lunches packed, it’s back to school time!

Can you believe that it is almost September! And you know what that brings; the common parent challenge – what to pack in the children’s lunch bags that is fast, delicious and nutritious! A good place to start is fresh fruits and vegetables.

Canada’s Food Guide recommends children ages 4-13 eat 5-6 servings of Fruit & Vegetables a day. One hundred grams (100 g) of fresh mushrooms counts as 1 serving of Fruits & Vegetables. Not only are they low in calories and fat, they also provide vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein, all important in keeping your child going throughout the day.

So when pack your children’s lunch bags for the first day of school, add these fast, tasty and nutritious mushroom snacks:

· Mushroom Dippers
Send along fresh whole or thick sliced mushrooms for dipping instead of crackers or chips. Vary the dip each day for a different flavour.

· Mushroom Pita Pocket
Mix sliced mushrooms with shredded cheese, chopped vegetables of your choice, and low-fat Italian dressing. Seal in a plastic container and send along with half a whole wheat pita. Stuff the pita with mushroom mixture at lunch time for a fast and tasty meal. Get the full recipe here.

· Mushroom Guacamole
In a sealable container, mix finely chopped mushrooms with mashed avocado, a sprinkle of lemon juice, and garlic. Send along with whole wheat tortilla chips or pitas for dipping.

· Mushroom Pizza
Make a mock mushroom pizza with an English muffin, tomato sauce, sliced mushrooms, cheese and pepperoni. Send along in individual containers so that they can assemble the pizza at school. Eat cold, or heat in a microwave until warm.

Feature Friday: Thai Noodle and Vegetable Salad Video

Mushrooms Canada has another great new cooking video up on our YouTube Channel called Thai Noodle and Vegetable Salad. This recipes is light, simple to prepare, and tastes even better after a day in the refrigerator.

Thai Noodle and Vegetable Salad
Preparation Time: 25 mins. Cooking Time: 2 mins.

A popular salad to serve as part of an Asian meal or an accompaniment to grilled fish or meat or serve for a lunch or light dinner.

6 oz. rice stick noodles 180 g

Salad Dressing:
2 tbsp Each hoisin sauce and rice vinegar 25 mL
2 tbsp Each sesame oil and soya sauce 25 mL
2 tbsp lime juice 25 mL
2 large cloves garlic, crushed 2
1½ tsp finely grated fresh gingerroot 7 mL
8 oz. sliced fresh Mushrooms (white or crimini) 250 g
1 cup julienned sweet red pepper 250 mL
1 cup julienned snow peas 250 mL
1 cup purchased pre-shredded carrot*250 mL
2 green onions, diagonally sliced 2
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves 125 mL

In a large bowl soak noodles in hot water for 20 minutes; drain and cook in boiling water for 2 minutes; drain well and place in large bowl.Meanwhile in a measuring cup or jar with lid combine hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soya sauce, lime juice, garlic and gingerroot; stir or shake to blend well. Pour half of the dressing over drained cooked noodles.Toss mushrooms, pepper, peas, carrot, onions and cilantro and remaining dressing with noodles. Serve at room temperature or chill until the next day. Garnish as desired when serving.

*Substitute julienned carrot for pre shredded carrot.


  1. Substitute 1 cup (250 mL) prepared Asian dressing and 2 tbsp (25 mL) lime juice and 2 tbsp (25 mL) soya sauce for the dressing above.
  2. Substitute whole wheat linguine or fettuccine for rice stick noodles and cook according to package directions.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 288, Sodium: 633 mg, Protein: 5.3 g, Fat: 7.8 g, Carbohydrates: 50.2 g, Dietary Fibre: 4.2 g

posted by Brittany