Our coast to coast travels gave us the chance to meet up with some of our favorite mushroom friends, like NYT bestselling author and nutritionist for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” Cheryl Forberg, RD. We asked Cheryl for the skinny on why she loves mushrooms, how she cooks with them and her favorite tips for simple swaps to save calories and increase the nutritional value of our meals. Here’s what she told us…
Loaded with nutrients, mushrooms are also very high in water (which makes them filling). A great addition to salads and stir-fries, they’re also delicious when stuffed and baked. Large mushrooms are excellent when grilled and make a great replacement for meat.
Included below is one of my favorite (quick and easy!) side dish recipes: Portabellas and Asparagus from Flavor First.
But first, its summertime, and I know lots of us are seeking easy ideas for healthy meals. In the spirit of the Council’s Swap It or Top It recipe contest, here are a few of my favorite simple swaps to cut calories, sodium and carbs; and enhances the nutritional value of your meals:
- Mushroom cap instead of pizza crust. This simple swap is not only an easy way to cut the carbs, but mushrooms are very low in calories. An average portabella for example has only 27 calories. Mushrooms have meaty texture, rich flavor and they’re loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.
- Next time you pack veggie sticks for a snack, add in red bell pepper slices. They’re loaded with antioxidants and a rich source of vitamin C. One cup of red bell pepper slices has only 20 calories and 120% of your daily supply of vitamin C
- Tomato or fruit salsas are also a great swap instead of sour cream on your quesadilla/burrito – a savings of more than 200 calories per ½ cup!
- Trying to keep your cravings under control? Spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves impart a hint of sweetness without added sugar.
- With minimal effort, you can create your own unique seasoning blends, which not only saves you money but also allows you to customize your favorite flavors and control sodium content.
Portabellas and Asparagus
Mushrooms add such meaty richness to this vegetable side dish. Try using shiitakes or creminis as well. The earthiness of the vegetables goes especially nicely with grilled steak and a glass of red wine.
Makes 4 (1/2-cup) servings
2 teaspoons grape seed or olive oil
3 cups sliced portabella mushrooms (about 2 large portabellas, stems and black gills removed)
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
3 cups asparagus pieces (1 1/2-inch), from about 1 pound (see note)
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
3 (1/2-ounce) slices nitrite-free turkey (or pork) bacon, cooked until crisp, drained well, and crumbled
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes, or until they just start to soften and release their liquid. Add the shallots and cook for another minute.
- Add the asparagus and cook for 3 minutes longer, or until the asparagus is just crisp-tender.
- Drizzle the soy sauce over the veggies and sprinkle with the bacon crumbles and cheese. Toss well and serve hot.
Note: Instead of asparagus, you can substitute 1 (9-ounce) bag (12 cups) fresh spinach. Add to the mushrooms, cover for a few minutes until wilted. Stir well and add remaining ingredients.
Per serving: 60 calories, 1 g total fat (<1 g saturated), 20 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 7 g total carbohydrates (2 g sugars), 2 g fiber, 6 g protein
One of the nation’s leading advisors on health and nutrition, Cheryl Forberg RD is a NYT bestselling author, James Beard award-winning chef and the nutritionist for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”. For more tips and recipes visit her website at www.cherylforberg.com or follow her at TWITTER, GOOGLE PLUS, FACEBOOK and Pinterest
 With permission from: FLAVOR FIRST by Cheryl Forberg, RD. Copyright © 2011 Rodale