In honor of National Mushroom Month, Elizabeth .M. Ward, M.S., R.D. shares reasons to enjoy mushrooms every day of the year.
I adore vegetables, and as you may have guessed, mushrooms are among my favorites. September happens to be National Mushroom Month, but I think mushrooms are worthy of year-round praise.
They’re versatile and interesting. I never tire of mushrooms. It’s not possible to become bored when there are so many varieties to choose from, including white button, cremini (baby portabella), portabella, oyster, and shiitake. Plus, there are so many ways to use them. I serve mushrooms with meat, chicken, and fish, and as part of salads and soups. Sliced raw white button mushrooms are a delicious alternative to chips when serving dip.
Mushrooms lighten up entrees. Mushrooms fill you up, but not out. That’s because they are full of water and fiber to keep you full, while being relatively low in calories.
“I swap chopped mushrooms for a portion of meat in my favorite recipes, including chili, tacos, meatballs, lasagna, lettuce wraps, burgers and pizza.”
My family enjoys meat-free burgers made from grilled portabella caps topped with a thin slice of sharp cheddar cheese and a slab of juicy tomato between whole grain buns. Yum!
Mushrooms create excitement. When I’m pressed for time, roasted chicken is my go-to meal. I enjoy chicken, and so does my family, but to be honest, it can be boring. I like chicken even more when I spruce it up with store-bought peach salsa, caramelized onions or sautéed mushrooms.
Mushrooms offer great taste without the sodium because they have umami, the fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Umami is a brothy or meaty flavor that offers a full-bodied taste. Mushrooms are naturally low in sodium, and their umami means you can use even less salt in your favorite dishes. The darker the mushroom, the more umami it offers.
Mushrooms are nutritious. I may be a dietitian, but if food doesn’t taste good, I won’t eat it, and I imagine you’re no different. That’s why it’s so wonderful that, in addition to tasting great, mushrooms are good for you.
For a food that’s so relatively low in calories and fat and cholesterol-free, mushrooms pack a nutritional punch. They support good health by providing B vitamins, potassium, and antioxidants that protect against cell damage.
Mushrooms are the only item in the produce aisle with natural vitamin D. A three-ounce serving of mushrooms that have been treated with ultraviolet light, the same type of light we get from the sun, supplies about two-thirds of your daily dose of vitamin D. You and your family need vitamin D for strong bones, among other reasons.
How are you incorporating mushrooms into your meals?