PHOTO BY ERIN KUNKEL
The Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Unlike many beige foods, mushrooms are actually quite good for you—and in unique ways. When grown in sunlight or exposed to ultraviolet light, they’re the only plant-based source of vitamin D, which is important for your bones, muscles, metabolism, and immunity. The white button mushrooms sold in most supermarkets are packed with essential nutrients like potassium and selenium, while research suggests that shiitake, maitake, and oyster mushrooms have high concentrations of the cancer-fighting antioxidants glutathione and ergotheothioneine. And all mushrooms are low in calories, containing around 20 to 50 per 3-ounce serving. So while brightly colored fruits and vegetables still deserve to be in the spotlight, mushrooms certainly don’t pale in comparison.
How Do You Prepare Mushrooms?
Wipe off any dirt with a damp paper towel, or rinse mushrooms in a colander and gently pat them dry. Unless you’re prepping shiitakes, which have fibrous stems, leave good-looking stems intact; trim or remove those that seem tough, dry, or slimy. You can slice or quarter mushrooms, or leave them whole (think portabellas on the grill and enokis in soups).
What Can You Do With Mushrooms?
Sautéed Mushrooms: The secret to making sautéed mushrooms that are golden-brown and not soggy? Don’t crowd them. Start by heating a little oil or butter in a pan over high heat, then add a handful of mushrooms. Once they’ve browned, push them to the side and add more handfuls one at a time. Continue cooking until all the mushrooms are browned and any liquid has evaporated. Add sautéed mushrooms to omelets, spoon them over polenta, or serve them as a side dish.
Grilled mushrooms: Thanks to their meaty texture, mushrooms are great for grilling. You can grill mushrooms with large caps, like portabellas, whole and serve them stuffed or in a sandwich, while smaller varieties should be skewered so they don’t fall through the grates. Regardless of the size, drizzle or brush your mushrooms with oil, sprinkle them with sea salt, and grill them a few inches from the coals for about four to seven minutes per side. For extra-moist mushrooms, baste them with a simple marinade made of oil, fresh herbs, and salt or melted butter and soy sauce.
Mushroom burgers: You’ve probably had a burger topped with mushrooms. Mixing mushrooms into the patty, however, can make it more heart healthy, lower in calories, and lower in fat—but just as filling. Dice half a pound of mushrooms or pulse them a few times in a food processor, then sauté them in a little oil. Once they’ve cooled, combine them with 1 pound of ground beef, form the mixture into four patties, salt both sides, and grill or pan-sear the patties until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). Serve them on whole-wheat buns or English muffins with in-season toppings like dill, quick-pickled radishes, or arugula.
More Mushroom Recipes
Hungry for more? There are so many ways to incorporate mighty mushrooms into your meals.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.