Updated: May 16
All About Mushrooms
All varieties of mushrooms are low in calories and fat, and contain modest amounts of fibre and various nutrients. Perhaps the more interesting properties of mushrooms are their non-nutritive plant substances—polysaccharides, indoles, polyphenols, and carotenoids in which cell and animal studies have shown antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects.
An often under-appreciated food, mushrooms have been eaten and used as medicine for thousands of years. Traditional and folk medicine practitioners laud the bell-shaped fungi for their healing and cleansing properties.
Mushrooms are also recognized by chefs for their ability to create savoury rich flavours called umami, thanks to the presence of an amino acid called glutamate, which is also found in meats, fish, cheeses, and simmering soups.
Animal or Vegetable
Although considered a vegetable, mushrooms are neither a plant nor animal food. They are a type of fungus that contains a substance called ergosterol, similar in structure to cholesterol in animals. Ergosterol can be transformed into vitamin D with exposure to ultraviolet light.
Mushrooms are delicate and should be cleaned gently. Either place them under gentle running water to release any dirt or brush dirt off with a dampened paper towel.
Cooking mushrooms in high-temperature water such as boiling and microwaving may cause its water-soluble nutrients (B vitamins, potassium) to escape in the cooking water. Sautéing quickly over high heat, or simmering over low heat, such as in soups, are ideal cooking methods for preserving nutrients.
Add chopped mushrooms into salads, omelettes, scrambled eggs, stir-fries, pasta sauces, chilli, or soups.
Sauté mushrooms in olive oil and add to cooked pasta or whole grains.
Grill large portobello mushroom caps. Remove the stems and gills if desired. Marinate the mushrooms for 10 minutes in a favourite sauce. Grill for about 3 minutes each side until they caramelize.
Mushrooms make a great replacement for meat because of their umami flavour. Replace about a quarter to a half of the meat in a recipe with chopped mushrooms.
No matter what the season, soups are always featured in my Happy and Healthy Weight Loss meal plans. Check out the link for my next programme.
This is a very forgiving soup, and as with all my recipes, I chop and change ingredients to use up what I've got. The last time I made this soup I had no leeks or carrots and only a few baby potatoes. I added in a large parsnip and 2 stalks of celery to replace the leeks and carrot.
2 diced medium potatoes
2 leeks, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
200 gm mushrooms, sliced
Large handful of red lentils (rinsed)
2 tablespoons butter
large pinch salt
500mls vegetable stock (or chicken). I use Carols Stockmarket Stock
Tsp thyme (optional)
2 tbs Nutritional Yeast (optional)
Ground black pepper, to taste
Greek yogurt to serve
Melt the butter and add the veg one at a time .
Stir in the lentils and mix well until everything is coated.
Add stock, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender (20-30 minutes).
Puree using an immersion blender, or food processor.
Add thyme, if using, and pepper. Check if you need more salt.
Heat soup gently, until just hot. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt
Nutritional Yeast - Savoury yeast condiment is a nutritional food with a cheesy, nutty taste made from inactive yeast without artificial additives or preservatives. It can be used to add extra protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to meals. Studies suggest that nutritional yeast may help protect against oxidative damage, lower cholesterol and boost immunity. Great source of protein, B vitamins and minerals and is high in Vitamin B12.
I sprinkle in soups, omelettes and sauces and sometimes use as a crunchy alternative to crumbs.