Mushrooms are a healthy food that you’re probably not eating enough of. Mushrooms are not only low in calories but also contain antioxidants called ergothioneine and beta-glucans. Both these substances help fight inflammation. In addition, mushrooms contain selenium, which helps support a healthy immune system, and potassium for healthy blood vessels and heart health. Plus, mushrooms are also one of the few plant-based foods that contain vitamin D. When mushrooms are exposed to sunlight, they produce vitamin D.
So the verdict is…you should probably eat more mushrooms! Luckily, there are lots of varieties to choose from. So let’s look at some creative ways to add more mushrooms to your diet.
1. Sautee mushrooms as a side dish
Sauté mushrooms with onions and garlic, then add your favorite spices before serving with Just Egg or tofu scramble for breakfast, or alongside a veggie dish at dinner time. This dish also pairs well with a piece of crusty bread brushed generously with olive oil or your favorite plant-based butter.
Sauteed wild mushrooms with onion and thyme.
2. Make a mushroom-spinach lasagna
Lasagna is one of the most comforting dishes out there, but it might not be the healthiest if you have too much. If you’re trying to cut back on meat, use mushrooms instead of meat in your lasagna filling. Although mushrooms contain modest quantities of plant-based protein, their umami flavor makes them a good substitute for meat in most recipes.
You can use any kind of mushrooms in a mushroom-spinach lasagne recipe–portobello, button, or even oyster–but for a truly authentic Italian flavor, shiitake, or cremini varieties work well. You could also add some kale or artichokes for an extra dose of vitamins A, C, and K. Just remember to cook them separately from the rest of your ingredients, so they don’t get mushy!
3. Grill mushrooms with tofu and herbs
Cremini or portabella mushrooms are a natural for grilling because they are affordable and don’t require much prep work, but you can use any kind of mushrooms you like. Herbs that pair well with grilled mushrooms are rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano. Fresh herbs are better than dried ones because they add more flavor. You can even grow your favorite herbs beneath a sunny windowsill. Marinated tofu is perfect for grilling and tastes delicious with mushrooms and veggies. Make mushroom, tofu, and veggie kebabs and throw them on the grill!
4. Give your burger a boost with mushrooms
Adding mushrooms to a veggie burger is an easy way to boost its protein content, but you can also add them to any brand of veggie crumbles to up the nutrition factor. You can even use a mushroom as the main feature on a burger and skip the patty entirely. For example, grilled portabello mushrooms make great vegetarian burgers because they have a meaty texture and are full of flavor. Just slice the portobello caps in half, brush with olive oil, and grill them until they’re browned on both sides (about five minutes per side). Top with vegan cheese if desired.
Portobello vegan mushroom burger with avocado, spinach, and tomato.
5. Use them in pasta sauces as a meat alternative.
Use mushrooms in pasta sauces. Mushrooms have a meaty texture, so you can use them as a substitute for meat in vegan dishes. Briefly sauté sliced mushrooms with onions, garlic, and herbs in olive oil until tender. Add this mixture to cooked pasta and toss well.
6. Stuffed mushrooms
Stuffed mushrooms are easy to make ahead of time, so they’re ready when you need them. Stuffing your favorite taco ingredients into mushroom caps creates a delicious appetizer or snack, perfect for parties or tailgates. A combination of veggie crumbles and shredded cheese makes up most vegan stuffed mushroom recipes, but you can experiment by adding different toppings like guacamole or salsa verde for more variety!
7. Add mushrooms to tacos
Add sliced mushrooms to a plant-based meat mixture for extra flavor and texture. You can also roast them in the oven until crisp, before using them as toppings for tacos or nachos. Mushrooms make an ideal meatless taco filling, and they pair well with other flavors, like peppers and onions.
Mushrooms make a tasty addition to tacos.
8. Use mushrooms as a pizza topping
Mushroom pizza can be a great plant-based alternative to traditional pepperoni or sausage. To ensure you’re getting all the health benefits of mushrooms, use various mushroom types instead of only sliced button mushrooms. Explore your mushroom horizons ☺.
Try fancy mushrooms like portobello, oyster, or shiitake. Portobello mushrooms are large and meaty with an earthy flavor; they’re often grilled whole as an entrée. Oyster mushrooms grow in clusters on logs or dead trees, while shiitakes grow on sawdust in Asian countries like Japan and Korea. These varieties are more expensive than ordinary white button or cremini (brown) mushrooms. Still, they offer many more benefits–and they taste delicious baked into your favorite homemade pizza!
9. Make mushroom powder
Make your own mushroom powder by drying out your mushrooms overnight on a baking sheet with parchment paper underneath (this is also great if you want to make your own vegan bacon). Then grind them up with a coffee grinder until they’re like flour (or chop up bigger chunks) and add to soups or stews for extra flavor!
Chop up chunks of dried mushrooms to add to homemade soup mixes for extra flavor.
When buying mushrooms, you can choose fresh or dried ones. Dried mushrooms tend to be more concentrated in flavor than fresh ones, and they require more cooking time–and they’re more expensive. If you want something chewy, buy dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms instead of dried button or portobellos. If you want something meatier than an oyster mushroom or maitake, go for dried chanterelles or hedgehogs.
The Bottom Line
Mushrooms are one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. You can use them in everything from pasta to soups and salads. Mushrooms have a rich and earthy flavor that can enhance almost any dish. Enjoy!
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