Archive for April, 2012

Mushrooms on the Menu

My name is Bart Minor and I have been president of the Mushroom Council for 14 years. I was born and raised on a farm in the BIG Valley, near Fresno, CA. It was there I helped my widowed grandmother produce raisins. The women in my family taught me how to make fresh foods taste good (including chicken livers from our chickens). Today, it is evident they taught me well – my daughters tell their friends, “My Dad can even make Brussels sprouts taste good!”

Even though I love to cook, I’ve found eating out is more convenient and mushrooms are frequently on the menu! This is not only trending in restaurants in my area, but also with our Mushroom Channel Facebook fans! We recently asked our Facebook fans what their restaurant favorites were. One restaurant in particular seemed to have a pretty strong following. We also received some great shout-outs for other chains and local hangouts. (Rightly so, many just bragged about their own in-home table!).

Here are some notable recent dishes I have observed (and enjoyed!):

Flat Breads. Mushrooms help make these filling items a little lighter, under 500 calories for a whole flatbread, not to mention the numerous combinations.

Mushroom Bacon. Mushrooms and eggs for breakfast are always a favorite. How about taking this one step further by seasoning and cooking strips of portabellas or king oysters as if they were bacon? The other night I enjoyed shiitake bacon chips, or “bits,” in a spinach salad at a local restaurant in Mountain View, CA and it had the flavor and crunch of bacon. Outstanding!

Turkey Burgers. Chopped mushrooms, when combined with ground turkey are a delectable demonstration of what we call our swapability concept. Simply substitute mushrooms for a higher calorie ingredient, such as meat. Not only do you add an extra serving of veggies to the plate, but you also reduce calories and fat in a meal.

Do you have a favorite mushroom menu item?

Mushroom and Kale Miso Soup

Whipping up a delicious lunch doesn’t entail spending hours of your afternoon slaving away in your kitchen. Shaina of Food for My Family adds simple ingredients, like scallions, kale and portabellas to her recipe with this Mushroom and Kale Miso Soup, ready in approximately 15 minutes.

Our spring started nice and warm, with the breeze feeling much more like June than March, and then as we set into April, the earth seemed to remember that it couldn’t warm up quite yet. A few weeks of random snow dustings, cold rain, and more moderate temperatures, and spring is finally here in its true form.

Unfortunately for our family, it brought a nice, late season cold along with it, the kind that settles in your chest and makes you feel rundown, but doesn’t knock you down completely. Your throat hurts just enough that you feel a bit out of sorts, but your hunger at mealtime isn’t completely erased.

When I’m sick, I crave soup, but it also seems impossible to stand at the stove long enough to get a proper one going, which means they must be fast. Antioxidant-rich kale, immune-boosting mushrooms, and chewy udon noodles come together in a light miso broth. It’s the perfect recipe when you’re sick, but this meal is also an easy lunch to throw together. The soup comes together seamlessly in just under 15 minutes.

Mushroom and Kale Miso Soup (Makes 4 servings)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 5 scallions, diced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dashi granules
  • 1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces fresh udon noodles
  • 3 tablespoons white miso paste

Directions: Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in kale and scallions and sauté lightly, just until the kale starts to wilt. Add the water and dashi and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add in mushrooms and udon. Simmer for 5 minutes or just until the mushrooms are transparent. Turn the heat off and whisk in the miso paste until combined. Serve immediately.

Celebrate Earth Day by Teaching Your Kids Where Food Comes From

The significance of Earth Day resonates as being special to me. It takes me back to when I was a child sitting in my second grade classroom, while my favorite teacher explained to us the meaning of Earth Day, the importance of the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) and the producing of organic foods and veggies by farmers and growers. I remember always being anxious and excited to run home and tell my parents the fascinating things I learned in class that day and to share fun-filled information with them. (Did I forget to mention that I sat them down so I could play teacher?)

So, I thought what better way to celebrate Earth Day then to teach your kids where food comes from, to engage them in eating well, to plant fruits and veggies, and best of all, to have fun as a family!

Here are some creative ideas to get your kids involved in honoring Earth Day around the globe and keep the tradition alive:

1. Grow your own garden. Spend the afternoon outside with your children getting your hands dirty. Teach them how to grow their own fruits and veggies by planting a garden full of carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon and cantaloupe. Gardening benefits kids’ health, as well as their attitudes towards learning and the environment. It gives them a sense of pride in their accomplishments, captures their interest and introduces them to healthful foods.

2. Grow mushrooms indoors. We recommend using this Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit to bring a sustainable urban mushroom farm into your kitchen! Just place the mushroom kit on the windowsill and mist twice a day with the mister provided. Within 7 days, you’ll witness mushroom pinheads sprouting and before you know it, they’ll be ready to harvest!

3. Spend a day at your local farmers market. Treat your kids to a morning picking out fresh fruits and veggies. By talking to the growers/famers directly, they’ll learn about where food comes from and you’ll be able to explain the health benefits of eating fresh, locally grown foods. Check out this article talking about the lessons children will gain by talking to farmers and things they’ll learn at the farmers market.

Homemade Mushroom & Spinach Pizza

Next time you get the urge to order out, take a quick inventory of your pantry instead and use some staple ingredients to whip up this simple Homemade Mushroom & Spinach Pizza recipe from Paula of bell’alimento.

I love that by mixing together five simple ingredients, you can create an amazing homemade pizza dough. Making pizza at home is simple and scrumptious, not to mention you can make it for pennies on what you would pay at your local pizza joint.

My homemade pizza dough recipe makes two medium-sized pizzas. You could easily double the ingredients to make two pizzas.

We typically make pizza in our house once a week. One of our favorites is this mushroom and spinach pizza. It has big bold and meaty flavors, so you won’t even miss the traditional meat! Feel free to use a blend of different varieties of fresh mushrooms for a more complex flavor. If you like things spicy, sprinkle a bit of red pepper flakes on top prior to baking.

Mushroom and Spinach Pizza

Homemade Mushroom & Spinach Pizza

  • What you’ll need: (makes 1 medium pizza)
  • 1/2 quantity pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms – sliced
  • Salt/pepper
  • 1 package fresh spinach – washed and torn into pieces
  • All-purpose flour – to dust surface
  • Cornmeal – to dust surfaces

1. Have your pizza dough prepared and waiting.
2. Place pizza stone into cold oven. (Note: if you do not have a pizza stone, place a rimmed baking sheet upside down into cold oven). Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3.  Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface to your desired thickness. Transfer dough to pizza peel (or baking sheet) that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal.
4. Drizzle pizza dough with approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil. Top with cheese and then mushrooms. Season with salt/pepper. Transfer pizza to pizza stone (or baking sheet) and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes OR until crust is crispy and cheese is bubbly.
5. Garnish with torn spinach as soon as it comes out of oven. Heat will slightly wilt spinach.


Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Veggies

After a long day at the office, running errands and getting the kids to soccer practice, finding time to cook as a parent can be stressful. What’s worse is trying to get your kids to eat what you cook, especially VEGGIES! Sometimes it is dejecting to deal with what it takes to get kids to eat the amount of fruits and veggies suggested by MyPlate – the government’s nutrition guide. Part of you just wants to give in and allow the children to eat what they want.

MyPlate recommends half of the dinner plate be full of fruits and veggies. That’s right – half of what children (and everyone, really!) are supposed to eat are wholesome veggies like broccoli and squash and fruits, including bananas and apples. That does not include kid-favorites like hotdogs, french fries, mac ‘n’ cheese and chicken fingers.

Which leads to the question, “How do I get my kids to eat more veggies?” Here are two useful tips that can help:

1. “Sneaky Mom” – Use the “Sneaky Mom” technique by hiding veggies in your kids favorite dishes, like pizza, burgers and lasagna.


One way is by using the “swapability” cooking technique. Substitute mushrooms for a portion of a higher calorie ingredient, such as meat. You not only add an extra serving of vegetables to the plate, but you also reduce calories and fat in a meal.

The swapability technique is as simple as three-steps:

  • Chop mushrooms to similar texture as meat, like ground beef
  • Cook the chopped mushrooms
  • Combine the cooked mushrooms with the meat

2. Make Cooking Fun – Involve your kids in the kitchen with the food preparation. Give them small tasks, such as washing fruits and veggies. Let them mix the salad or stir the sauce. When you have your kids help in the kitchen, it allows them to learn about nutrition and the foods they eat. Also, they’ll be more likely to try new foods they’ve helped make.

Feel free to share a comment below to let us know how you get your kids to eat more veggies!