Archive for November, 2013

Mushrooms Take Center Stage on School Lunch Trays

Wouldn’t it be great if your child’s cafeteria served healthy, nutritious food prepared just like the meals found in the finest restaurants? Council Representative, Kathleen Pries, is on the front lines of the mushrooms in schools effort, and tells us why kids are gobbling up mushrooms at lunch time!

What if we told you your kids’ love mushrooms? What if we told you they eat them every day for lunch, without complaint, and even ask for seconds? That’s right, since their official introduction to the National School Lunch Program; mushrooms have been gaining popularity as one of the trendiest ingredients to be featured on the lunch tray!

Meal regulations now demand a greater variety of fresh, low fat, low calorie, nutrient dense foods be served to students during breakfast and lunch.  Mushrooms, being both nutrient dense and low fat, instantly improve any dish they are paired with and have become a go-to ingredient for school foodservice directors. Mushrooms blended with meat in school entrees like tacos, burgers, sloppy joes and meatballs instantly reduce fat, calories and sodium while adding moisture, flavor and an extra vegetable serving to students. It’s no wonder why school foodservice directors are turning to mushrooms to help meet new USDA meal pattern requirements!

Mushrooms at Cincinnati Public Schools
School foodservice directors, such as Jessica Shelley of Cincinnati Public Schools, serve mushroom blended burgers to students. Serving mushroom blended burgers allows Jessica to top the burgers with turkey bacon and cheese creating a more appealing presentation to her students. Students are encouraged to visit the salad bar to top their burger with a variety of fresh produce, including mushrooms!

Mushrooms in Schools

Mushrooms at Maplewood Richmond Heights School District
Since mushrooms are grown indoors, they are in-season 365 days a year. Chef Robert Rusan from Maplewood Richmond Heights School District uses fresh mushrooms year-round, serving a student favorite; vegetable pizza. His home made whole wheat crust is topped high with fresh veggies including mushrooms, peppers and onions. The color and visual appeal of the fresh pizza often outsells the student favorite pepperoni pizza option.

Tri-Mushroom Flatbread

Blending is trending, so be sure to keep an eye out in your child’s cafeteria for the many delicious changes to the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program.


10 Tips To Eat More Mushrooms

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD shares 10 tips to incorporate mushrooms into your favorite dishes.

Sauteed Mushroom Skillet

The holiday season is all about indulgence and there is always a delicious bite within reach.  No one wants to give up the food they love, and the good news is that you don’t have to. By adding mushrooms to the dishes you already love, you’re adding a delicious boost of nutrients that will leave you satisfied without the guilt.

Take a look at ten simple ideas that will inspire you to purchase mushrooms today!

  1. Make a baked potato bar for a fun dinner. Add sautéed mushrooms to the bar line-up along with chopped green onions,  chili made with lean meat or chopped tomato, cheese, light sour cream, etc.…
  2. Every time you enjoy eggs—when making an omelet, scrambled eggs or frittata—make it a new habit to include super nutritious produce (sliced mushrooms, dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, and red pepper or tomatoes). NOTE: Change things up during the weekend and have breakfast for dinner! Mushrooms will help make it satisfying and nutritious.
  3.  Pump up the nutrition on any of your burgers (be it black bean, turkey or beef burgers) by topping them with sautéed mushrooms at home or when ordering at restaurants. You can also blend finely chopped mushrooms directly into the burger patty as a replacement for a portion of the ground meat.
  4. For those meals when you want to go meatless, feature a meaty mushroom instead. Portabella mushroom caps (whole, sliced or chopped) can take the place of meat on a bun, in a pasta dish, on a pizza crust, in a casserole or a bowl of chili.
  5. Take your grown up grilled cheese to a new level in flavor and nutrition by adding sautéed mushrooms or sliced marinated or grilled portabellas.
  6. When you barbeque or grill kabobs, no matter what the featured protein (shrimp, beef, chicken or pork), help your taste buds, wallet and health by making sure to add a couple of white button or crimini mushrooms to every kabob. You will make about four kabobs more for every pound of meat.
  7. Have a bag of sliced mushrooms ready to go in your crisper for your side or entrée green salads.
  8. Add mushrooms to your favorite Mexican or Italian dishes (spaghetti, lasagna, enchiladas, tamales, burritos, or quesadillas) in addition to or instead of some of the meat.
  9. When you unpack your groceries, just take 5 minutes to sauté the sliced mushrooms you just bought in a nonstick frying pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and season with minced garlic or garlic powder, black pepper and any desired herbs. Then keep them covered in the refrigerator to use in all sorts of dishes over the next few days.
  10. Boost the flavor and nutrition of any soup or stew (homemade or canned) by adding sautéed mushrooms. Canned soups can usually use a little something something in the nutrition and flavor department, so add some mushrooms when you are warming it up and improve both!

Dining Out for The Holidays: Mushrooms on the Menu

Fresh Crimini Mushrooms

The holidays are all about being in the kitchen, but sometimes it’s more fun to use the kitchen for socializing rather than cooking. In between holiday shopping, festivities and decorating, we all want a moment to relax, sit and savor a meal that was prepared for us.  With mushrooms trending at restaurants across the country, you might be tempted to try a dish at all one – or more – of the restaurants below.

  • Applebee’s – One look at their new Marsala Mushroom Sirloin featured on their Spirited Cuisine Menu and you’ll be ready to order.
  • Au Bon Pain – It’s easy to forget breakfast during the holidays, but Au Bon Pain’s new Mushroom and Egg White Frittata Breakfast Sandwich provides the perfect option for a healthy breakfast on-the-go.
  • Maggiano’s – Enjoy a double dose of mushrooms with a decadent Stuffed Mushroom appetizer and a creamy Mushroom Ravioli entrée.
  • Panera Bread – There are few things as comforting as a bowl of soup, and Panera’s new Country Mushroom Soup with Truffle hits the perfect note of flavor with every spoonful.
  • Outback Steakhouse – If you’re at a table with mushroom lovers, you might want to order two of their Crab Stuffed Mushrooms for an appetizer because they will easily steal the show.

We’re always keeping an eye out for the latest mushroom trends so keep an eye on our dining page to see if your favorite restaurant adds a bit of mushroom flair to their menu.

Happy Holidays!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with “Baby Bella” Bacon Bits

It’s time to cook up some savory goodies for our Thanksgiving tables. Our tastebuds are delighted that Chef Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN is sharing her clever and succulent side dish creation with us all. The bacon bits in her dish are actually mushrooms!

Brussels Sprouts with Baby Bella Bacon Bits


Thanksgiving is full of so many traditions. I savor them all. But as someone who also enjoys keeping things interesting, I change up my recipes just a bit from year to year to create intrigue for everyone’s palate. I’m so pleased to be able to share one of my newest non-traditional sides.

It starts with roasted Brussels sprouts. Then the intrigue arrives. I top the veggie beauties with “bacon.” But my recipe is unique since the bacon bits are actually crimini mushroom slices, slow-roasted until crisped, and spiced just right. The dish may just be the talk of the dinner table. Well, at least until it’s time for pie. I hope this dish becomes a new favorite on your holiday plate.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Baby Bella Bacon Bits

Makes 6 servings: 3/4 cup each


  • 1 1/2 pounds medium Brussels sprouts, trimmed, and halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 recipe Baby Bella Bacon Bits (see below)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss together the Brussels sprouts, oil, vinegar, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet and arrange in a single layer, cut side up.
  2. Roast until well caramelized and just tender on the inside, about 25 minutes, flipping over Brussels sprouts halfway through the roasting process. If desired, sprinkle with additional extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt.
  3. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl, sprinkle with the Baby Bella Bacon Bits, and serve immediately.

Baby Bella Bacon Bits

Makes 1/2 cup


  • 2 teaspoons turbinado (raw) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, stems removed*, thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Stir together the sugar, salt, paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl.
  2. Add the mushrooms to a medium bowl, drizzle with the oil, and toss to fully coat. Sprinkle with the seasoning mixture and toss to fully coat. Arrange in a single layer on a large nonstick  baking sheet.
  3. Roast until reduced in size by about 50 percent and deeply caramelized, about 1 hour 15 minutes. There’s no need to stir or flip over during roasting. Scrape up mushrooms with a spatula to make sure they’re not sticking to the pan; rearrange in a single layer; turn off oven; and return to the warm oven for 45 minutes, to allow to crisp.
  4. Remove from the oven and cool the baby bella bacon bits on the pan on a rack to allow to further crisp, at least 15 minutes, and serve. If desired, prepare and store in the refrigerator overnight; bring to room temperature before serving.

*Save mushroom stems for other cooking purpose.

Mushroom Recipes for the Holidays

Crispy Button Mushrooms and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and recipe planning is in full swing. When it comes to Thanksgiving, there are certain dishes that are a “must have” on the table. Turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes are holiday staples that come to mind. Then there is room for the “unexpected.” Whether it’s a  recipe you discovered on Pinterest, or a recipe you bookmarked in a magazine, you never know when a new recipe can become the “must have” on your holiday table.

Since we’re all mushroom lovers here, we put together a round-up of resources to discover new mushroom recipes for all of your holiday festivities.

1) Our “Mushroom Lover’s Thanksgiving” Pinterest board is full of mushroom delights from stuffed mushrooms to stuffing.

2) Get seasonal mushroom recipes delivered straight to your inbox with our monthly newsletter. Sign up here.

3) Our recipe database is filled with 468 recipes. If you’re hosting vegetarians this holiday, our meatless tab will be sure to provide hearty options everyone will love, such as the Crispy, Crunchy Button Mushrooms and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad featured above.

4) Our Facebook page is always sharing recipes from across the web. Like our page to get mushroom recipes straight to your newsfeed.

5) Whole Foods is celebrating mushrooms this season, with a variety of dishes that will add a bit of tradition and creativity to your menu.

What dish are you planning to add to your table this year?