What’s In a Mushroom?

Last night I ate half the punnet of mushrooms in a quinoa mix. I put the quinoa on to simmer then diced the mushrooms and fried them in butter with garlic. When the quinoa was done I mixed in the mushrooms then added a chopped chilli and cubes of avocado. In my usual style, it was created from what I had around at the time and what I thought might go together. And it was very, very tasty.

As nice as standard cup mushrooms are, they don’t really taste of much on their own, so it’s hard to believe that they can be much good for us nutritionally. I decided to find out what the humble standard mushroom really has to offer . . .

So What Nutrients Do Mushroom Contain?

Not only are mushrooms low in calories and fat-free, they are also an important source of B vitamins for those of us who don’t eat meat and according to The Mushroom Council they are ‘the only natural fresh vegetable or fruit with vitamin D’.

It’s not all good news though. If you suffer from fungal or yeast infections you should avoid mushrooms as fungus and yeasty foods can exacerbate the problem.

Here’s the Nutritional Low-down:

• VITAMIN B2 (riboflavin) – helps in the maintenance of healthy red blood cells, fat metabolism and nerve transport.

• VITAMIN B3 (niacin) – promotes healthy skin and helps with fat metabolism and nerve transport.

• VITAMIN B5 (pantothenic acid) – important in the production of hormones, fat metabolism and maintenance of the nervous system.

• VITAMIN D – its major function is to absorb calcium and phosphorus to maintain bones.

• SELENIUM – an antioxidant that helps to protect our cells from damage, also important for immunity, fertility in men and the production of thyroid hormones.

• COPPER – helps to make red blood cells and collagen, carries oxygen and keeps bones and nerves healthy.

• POTASSIUM – maintains fluid and mineral balance, and helps to control blood pressure. Also involved in muscle contraction and nerve transmission.

• ERGOTHIONEINE – an antioxidant, important for immunity and the protection of cells.

It seems that the humble mushroom does have a lot to offer, especially when it comes to vitamin D, and the more antioxidants you can get in your diet the better. So grab a handful and chuck them on your plate, cooked or raw!

(Nutritional information researched from The Mushroom Council and Nutritional Biochemistry, a course book by Premier International for the Diploma in Nutritional Therapy.)

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Plastic Packaging in a Veg Box . . . Why?

This week I open my veg box to reveal: • Potatoes • Cabbage • Onions
• Carrots • Sweeeeeeede • Sweetcorn
and • Mushrooms.

Any swede that enters my home gets escorted next door as quickly as possible, so as much as I hate them, I love them for their role in neighbour relations! And joy! For the first time my box has produced a punnet of normal mushrooms. I look forward to introducing them to some cloves of garlic later in the week.

However, I still can’t help cringing when any of my veggies arrive packaged in plastic. Not only were the mushrooms in a plastic punnet covered with cling film, but the potatoes have arrived in plastic bags for several weeks.

The potatoes used to come in paper bags with no labels. My only guess is that these potatoes have travelled further and have had to be sealed and labelled to prove the origin of the contents, but I’m not convinced.

I look forward to my veg box provider finding new solutions that don’t involve plastic bags, punnets and cling film. It doesn’t seem right for veg boxes to contain this sort of packaging.

Stuff Them! (Or . . . The Best Thing to Do With Giant Mushrooms)

Sept 20

My veg boxes are starting to look a bit more interesting again, so it’s with renewed enthusiasm that I pull back the tape sealing the box each week. This week there were the obligatory cabbage, carrots, onions and potatoes, plus a beautiful cauliflower and three newcomers: two cobs of sweetcorn, three massive mushrooms and something purple!

To figure out what the ‘something purple’ was I got on to Google images and searched for ‘purple vegetable’ as I had no other clues. Pretty soon I found a match in ‘kohl rabi’. I’ve heard the name before, but I don’t recall the face – and I certainly have no idea of the taste. I look forward to learning more.

Stuffed Mushrooms

I chose to eat the mushrooms straight away and decided that really the best thing to do with giant vegetables is to get them stuffed. So I brushed the mushrooms inside and out with olive oil and pre-baked them for 10 minutes at 170 degrees.

The stuffing consisted of anything I could find, but included rice, gruyère cheese, sunflower seeds and various finely-diced vegetables, which I cooked as necessary. I spooned the resulting mixture into each mushroom and topped them with a layer of cheese.

The mushrooms then went back into the oven, this time covered with foil, and were baked for a further 15–20 minutes. They tasted OK, but not as nice as my stuffed peppers – mmmmmm. If I do these again, I will look around for some tastier stuffing recipes.

Now I’m off to find out more about kohl rabi, see you soon . . .