If you’re trying to eat more healthily, consider adding mushrooms to your diet. They’re high in nutrients, low in calories, and one of the most versatile veggies around.
Actually, mushrooms are not a vegetable. They’re a fungus, which means they have no roots or seeds and don’t require light to grow. They prefer to grow in dark places (caves are a favorite) and reproduce by releasing spores. To date, over 35,000 varieties of mushrooms have been found to exist in nature, but only a small portion of those are edible. For that reason, it’s a good idea to skip foraging for mushrooms yourself. There are a variety of safe, delicious mushrooms available at most grocery stores and supermarkets today.
There are a number of reasons why mushrooms make a welcome and nutritious addition to a healthy diet. One of the primary reasons is they add bulk to food without adding unwanted calories. There are only about 20 calories in five medium-sized mushrooms, which makes them a perfect choice for those trying to lose weight. They are also very high in riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2. Riboflavin plays an important role in fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism. In addition, mushrooms are a good source of niacin, which is important for cellular repair, and are rich in minerals such as selenium, potassium and copper. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, copper is involved in iron metabolism, and selenium is a powerful antioxidant. Studies have shown that selenium may reduce the risk of prostate cancer in particular.
The most common variety of commercially available mushrooms are white or button mushrooms. They are inexpensive, and can be purchased fresh, canned, and even frozen. They tend to have a mild flavor, and absorb other flavors like spices readily when cooked. They can be eaten raw as snacks and in salads, but are equally delicious when added to soups and main dishes. They have a delicate texture, which gives them a somewhat “melt in your mouth” quality. Other common varieties of mushroom include crimini, porcini, and portobello. Crimini mushrooms have a denser texture and a richer flavor than button mushrooms, but are otherwise similar. Porcini mushrooms have a strong and distinct flavor, and tend to be more expensive. Portobello mushrooms are a bit like extra-large porcinis, with a similar flavor and chewy, meaty texture.
Let mushrooms take the place of steak at your barbecue with this unique recipe for grilled portobello mushrooms. They’re delicious and have a fraction of the fat and calories found in a similar-sized portion of meat. Serve with a salad and a side dish, and viola! You have a completely satisfying meal.
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
8-10 large portobello mushrooms
2-3 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
4-5 cloves or garlic, chopped
1-2 teaspoons oregano, thyme, or Italian seasoning blend
Combine the butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan. Stir ingredients together over medium-low heat until the butter melts.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms if necessary and wash the caps thoroughly. Turn them over and press the chopped garlic into the mushroom gills; use about half a clove of garlic for each mushroom.
Oil the grill to make sure the mushrooms won’t stick and let it heat up. Once the grill is hot, brush the mushroom tops lightly with the olive oil and butter mixture, sprinkle with seasonings, and arrange them on the grill’s surface. Once arranged top side down, lightly brush the gills with the same mixture. Let them cook for 8-10 minutes, or until they start to brown and crisp. Turn them over carefully and let them cook 2-3 minutes on the other side before serving.
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