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Old 11-03-2008, 10:04 AM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Upstate NY
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Talking Veggie of the Week: Mushrooms!

So...I know we're all trying to add more veggies into our diets. We're not sure what might be out there...and even if we find a new veggie, we're not sure how to cook it, what it would go well with, and whether anyone in their right mind would even try it!

Here's a place to share all that info with each other! Each week I'll post a new veggie along with information on nutritional value, how to cook it, and at least one recipe using that veggie. Then we can all add on to the thread with our experiences with that veggie, recipes we like, and more! When the week is up, I'll transfer the thread to the SBD Recipes forum and the recipes to their respective recipe forums. Remember, if you add a recipe, try to include at least the number of servings and the nutritional information, if you can.
This Week's Veggie is: Mushrooms!

There's a ton of great information on mushrooms at Mushrooms Canada, who remind us:
Mushrooms are good for you!

When you think of one serving of FRESH Canadian Mushrooms, think of:
Low Calories
Low Carb
Low Fat
Low Sodium
Low Cholesterol
Including fresh mushrooms in everyday meals is a great way to boost vitamin intake while adding virtually no calories, fat or sodium.
The World's Healthiest Foods has this to say about Crimini Mushrooms (but much of it applies to all mushrooms):

Mushrooms are as mysteriously unique as they are delicious. While often thought of as a vegetable and prepared like one, mushrooms are actually fungi, a special type of living organism that has no roots, leaves, flowers or seeds. While they can be cultivated, they easily grow wild in many regions of the world.

Button mushrooms generally look like little cartoon umbrellas, having a dense parasol-like cap attached to a stem that can be short and thick or thin and slightly curvy. There are three different types of button mushrooms-white mushrooms, crimini mushrooms and portabello mushrooms. The white mushroom is the most common type and is the cream colored mushroom that often adorns salads. The crimini mushroom, which looks just like the button but is coffee colored, actually features a more distinctive flavor. The portabello mushroom whose large size and meaty flavor make it a wonderful vegetarian entrée, is actually an overgrown crimini mushroom. The scientific name for these mushrooms is Agaricus bisporus.

Crimini mushrooms are known by a variety of other names. These include cremini, baby bellas, and Portabellini.

Button mushrooms have grown wild since prehistoric times, having been consumed as food by the early hunter-gatherers. Since ancient times, mushrooms have been thought to have special powers. The Egyptians thought that they granted immortality, and since only the pharaohs were felt to be worthy of this gift, the common people were not even allowed to touch mushrooms, let alone eat them. In ancient Rome, people oftentimes referred to mushrooms as cibus diorum-food for the gods. The folklore of many cultures, including Russia, China and Mexico held that eating mushrooms could give someone superhuman strength.

Although button mushrooms have been enjoyed by people around the world for millennia, it was not until the 17th century that they began to be cultivated. The first attempts at cultivation began near Paris, a city that still has hundreds of miles of underground caves and tunnels where mushrooms are grown. Cultivation of button mushrooms began in the United States in the late 19th century. Button mushrooms are grown throughout many regions of the world, especially countries in the Northern Hemisphere. The United States is one of the leading commercial producers of button mushrooms with the majority being produced in Pennsylvania.

How to Select and Store
Look for mushrooms that are firm, plump and clean. Those that are wrinkled or have wet slimy spots should be avoided. Since mushrooms darken as they age, choose those that are either creamy white or tan, depending upon whether you are purchasing white or Crimini mushrooms. If your recipe calls for caps only, choose mushrooms that have short stems to avoid waste. Fresh and dried button mushrooms are available throughout the year.

The best way to store loose button mushrooms is to keep them in the refrigerator either placed in a loosely closed paper bag, wrapped in a damp cloth or laid out in a glass dish that is covered with a moist cloth. These methods will help them to preserve their moisture without becoming soggy and will keep them fresh for several days. Mushrooms that are purchased prepackaged can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week in their original container. Dried mushrooms should be stored in a tightly sealed container in either the refrigerator or freezer, where they will stay fresh for six months to one year.

Tips for Preparing Mushrooms:
Mushrooms are so porous that if they are exposed to too much water, they will quickly absorb it and become soggy. Therefore, the best way to clean mushrooms without sacrificing their texture and taste is to clean them using minimal, if any, water. To do this, simply wipe them with a slightly damp paper towel or kitchen cloth. You could also use a mushroom brush, available at most kitchenware stores.

If using the whole mushroom in a recipe, simply slice off the very bottom of the stem, which is usually a bit spongy. If your recipe only calls for the caps, gently break off the stems with your hands and discard (or save for making soup stock).
Produce Oasis has this information on button mushrooms (the white/brown kind that are often found in the supermarket):

Button Mushroom Nutritional Information

Serving size 5 medium (84g)
Calories 20
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 0mg
Total Carbohydrate 3g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Protein 2g

% of U.S. RDA
Vitamin A 0%
Calcium 0%
Vitamin C 2%
Iron 2%
Though many people (myself included) have had the mistaken impression that mushrooms have no nutritional value, they happen to be nutritional powerhouses! Research keeps finding more and more benefits to eating mushrooms. Here's some information on that:
Mushrooms: Not Nutritional Nothings
Chemical Analysis Of Mushrooms Shows Their Nutritional Benefits


A great way to eat mushrooms on Phase 1: Rosemary Chicken and Mushrooms with Mixed Vegetables

A yummy and vegetarian way to eat mushrooms on Phase 2: Brown Rice and Mushroom Pancakes

Mushrooms are a great part of many vegetarian recipes. Here are some good ones (appear to be SBD-safe without substitutions):
Cannellini-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Mushroom and Spinach Frittata With Smoked Gouda
Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms

Information on Mushrooms:
Tons of information, recipes, and more at the Mushroom Council webpage.
Should You Peel or Wash Mushrooms?

Other information on Veggies:
Better Homes and Gardens Slide Show on using spring vegetables, including recipes and info on veggies

FAQ for the 5-a-day program on Fruits and Veggies

Tips on Fruits and Veggies from the CDC

Vegetables: How to cook, serve, and store these healthy foods from Mayo Clinic
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