April 16 is Mushroom Day, so lets celebrate the humble mushroom!
Not everyone agrees, but I think that mushrooms are the bees’ knees. So much so that when I was four years old I ate mushrooms off my aunt’s lawn and my mom had to take me to the hospital to have my stomach pumped. And guess what? While quite traumatic, that experience didn’t turn me off mushrooms. At all.
(FYI the mushrooms were not poisonous upon testing. Also, I feel the need to say that my mother was very attentive and not neglectful at all. She likely just assumed that her daughter was smart enough not to eat the lawn mushrooms. Not so, Mom, not so!)
I like mushrooms for their taste, texture, and the rich umami quality they add to recipes. The fact that they’re so good for us is just an added bonus. How good for us, you ask? Well let’s see …
- Rich in antioxidants: mushrooms are particularly rich in is ergothioneine, an amino acid that can only be obtained from the diet. When not enough is consumed, cells become more susceptible to damage caused by oxidative stress.
- Boost immunity: in a scientific review, researchers found that the metabolites contained within mushroom cell walls appeared to stimulate different cells of the immune system, including T and B cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells.
- Protect against cancer: the phytochemicals found in mushrooms are thought to be responsible for their anticancer effect. One of these phytochemicals, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), has been shown in studies to inhibit the estrogen-producing enzyme aromatase, which may reduce the risk for breast and prostate cancers.
- Source of vitamin D: studies have found that when exposed to either natural or artificial UV light, a plant sterol found in mushrooms converts into vitamin D2.
Here are a few of our favourite healthy fungi:
Also known as enokitake, enoki mushrooms have long thin stems and small white caps. These sweet-tasting mushrooms grow in bunches and are traditionally used in soups.
The wavy folds on the cap of this medicinal mushroom resemble that of the brain. Fabled for its immune-boosting prowess, the maitake mushroom makes a tasty addition to most culinary dishes.
Oyster mushrooms are cream-coloured with fan-shaped caps and an anise-like scent. A natural source of the cholesterol-lowering statin drug lovastatin, oyster mushrooms are good for the heart.
Also known as penny bun, the porcini mushroom has a short white stalk and a wide reddish-brown cap. It can be purchased fresh or dried and is a popular ingredient in Italian pasta and risotto recipes.
A popular Asian mushroom commonly used in stir-fries and miso soup, the shiitake mushroom has a mild texture when fresh that becomes stronger when dried.
Check out some of our favourite recipes featuring the humble ’shroom—cook one up today for Mushroom Day!
- Seared Portobello Mushrooms
- Enoki Mushroom and Spinach Salad
- Cremini Omelette
- Mushrooms with Wild Rice and Cashew Sauce
- Chard and Mushroom Mead Sauté
- Poached Eggs, Mushrooms, and Micro Greens
- Mushroom Leek Frittata
- Grilled Portobello Burger
- Arame, Shiitake, and Pea Risotto
- Mushroom and Barley Pot Pie