Vegetable of the Month – Mushrooms
Welcome to 2013! I sincerely hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday season and you are off to a great start to the New Year. Personally, I am very excited and hopeful for the New Year. As I reflect back to the last year I think of how blessed I am to have family, friends, good health and good food. Like I’ve spoken of before, one aspect of good health is the food that we put into our bodies and the nutrition that it provides. Whole foods, and especially vegetables, provide a multitude of nutrition to our bodies that keep it running optimally. So keep your bodies healthy and happy by eating your veggies!
This month, mushrooms will be the featured vegetable. Some of you might already be thinking, ‘but mushrooms aren’t vegetables’ and you are right! Mushrooms, although part of the plant kingdom, are actually fungi. Because, from a cultural and culinary standpoint, we often refer to them as vegetables, we will feature them this month. If you consume a serving of mushrooms, it counts as a serving of vegetables (a serving is just a ½ cup, fresh or cooked). Plus, they are found in the produce department, with all the other good stuff!
Mushrooms are readily available year round and are used both for their flavor and meaty texture as well as for their nutritional qualities. Mushrooms have also been used by some cultures for their medicinal qualities. The white mushroom is the most common type. However, in recent years, other varieties have become more recognizable. They include, Portobello, Shiitake, Oyster, Chanterelle, and Cremini. Generally speaking, the larger and darker the mushroom, the stronger the flavor. Texture varies among the different types from spongy to firm and meaty. Most can be eaten either fresh or cooked.
Whatever the variety, mushrooms contain many nutrients and phytochemicals that support the cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems. In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of evidence supporting the anti-cancer properties of mushrooms, specifically against breast cancer. Mushrooms contain aromatase inhibitors which reduce the risk of certain cancers from forming. They are a good source of B vitamins, especially riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic Acid. They include important minerals such as selenium and copper. Additionally, they are low in sodium, calories, fat and cholesterol.
Mushrooms are so easy to cook with. They can be added fresh to a salad, can be sautéed, grilled or added to omelets, pasta dishes, pizzas, soups and sauces. A Portobello mushroom can even be eaten as a burger substitute. There are endless ways to include them into your diet! Some of my favorite ways to eat them are in pastas and soups. Because my children are not fans of mushrooms, I often chop them up finely and secretly add them to a dish. They rarely notice!
While I am not personally a big football fan, I do appreciate this time of year for preparing fun foods for entertaining and watching a game. I am sure many of you will be doing the same and are looking for delicious but relatively healthy foods to serve to your football loving guests. This month I am including a recipe for mushroom stromboli. It is served perfectly with a side of Mama Jess Garden Good or Bean Good Sauce for dipping. The other fun thing about stromboli is that you can add whatever fillings that you enjoy to the recipe. Traditional strombolis usually include Italian meats, but you can also add various vegetables to suit your taste. Feel free to get creative. Your guests will love it!
Whether or not you plan on hosting guests to watch the game or just want a fun easy to make finger food, I hope that you enjoy the recipe and are motivated to add more mushrooms to your diet. Your body will love you for it! Here is to a healthy and happy 2013!
eat your veggies,