Whether side dish or center stage, the mushroom’s meaty texture is guaranteed to satisfy. If you’re working towards reducing your intake of meat but still crave steak, mushrooms may be the best palate-satisfying replacement. In fact, when people eat mushroom-based entrees, they often feel just as satisfied as if they’d eaten those same dishes made with beef—and with a fraction of beef’s calories and fat. And don’t worry about missing out on protein or mouth-feel: mushrooms are higher in protein than many vegetables, and their meaty texture makes them a good choice for vegans and would-be vegetarians alike.
At only 15 calories per cup, mushrooms are guaranteed to safeguard your waistline, and an excellent source of B vitamins, D vitamins, and minerals including selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and manganese. In many parts of the world, they're prized for their immune-boosting properties.
Mushrooms also contain a powerful antioxidant called L-ergothioneine. For the highest amount of L-ergothioneine, shiitake, maitake, or oyster mushrooms are the winners; but creminis, portabellas and white button mushrooms are nearly as good.
With all of these varieties readily available, there is no “cap” on the possibilities for nutritious mushroom dishes. Fall is the season to start eating more of these healthy fungi — and these five ideas are an excellent place to start.
Mushrooms and Spinach Italian Style (courtesy AllRecipes)
This Southern Italian recipe is beloved in the Apulia region. Thoroughly washed and towel-dried spinach leaves and white mushrooms, with any tough stems trimmed down, are sautéed with light olive oil, onion, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and white wine. An excellent cool-weather accompaniment to lean pork or chicken.
Mediterranean Portobello Burger (courtesy Eating Well)
This sandwich substitutes a grilled or pan-seared Portobello mushroom for a ground beef patty and comes topped with a luscious Greek-style salad of Roma tomatoes, arugula, feta cheese, and vinaigrette. Make it a meal worthy of the isles: Serve with cucumber spears, olives and a nice glass of sparkling lemon water.
Mushroom and Poblano Tacos (courtesy Everyday Health)
Mushroom tacos are perfect for a make-it-quick vegetarian dinner any day of the week. Brightened with grilled onions and Chile peppers (poblano or jalapeño, depending on your heat tolerance), and topped with a mild red or green salsa, you won’t miss the meat at all. Stir together pan-fried mushrooms and brown rice for a filling that skips the grease of carnitas or carne asada. Garnish with cilantro and queso fresco. Steamed corn tortillas make an ideal low-fat wrapper.
Farmers Market Breakfast Skillet (courtesy Everyday Health)
There is plenty of room for mushrooms at the breakfast table. Add them to your morning menu with this quick and over-easy egg skillet. Loaded with fresh spinach leaves, sprouts, and sliced crimini or white button mushrooms, this fifteen-minute-or-less recipe can easily be doubled in a 12-inch pan to feed extra mouths. Skip the butter and use an oil mister with olive oil to reduce fat and calories.
Asian Spinach Salad with Marinated Mushrooms (courtesy Vegetarian Times)
A soy and vinegar marinade “cooks” the mushrooms that top this salad, making them tender and tasty.
Whisk the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, chili-garlic sauce, and oil in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add mushrooms and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for two hours, stirring occasionally.
3 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
2 ½ Tbs. rice vinegar
1 ½ tsp. light brown sugar
1/ 2 tsp. chile-garlic sauce
1 ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
4 cups sliced button mushrooms
8 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 avocado, peeled and diced (1 cup)
1 large carrot, grated (½ cup)
4 green onions, thinly sliced (½ cup)
3 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Drain the mushrooms and save the marinade. Toss the marinade with the remaining ingredients except the spinach, which should be portioned evenly into salad bowls. Top the spinach with the mushrooms, and finish the salad by sprinkling with sesame seeds.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy mushrooms? Share a comment below.