Naturopathic Kitchen: Mushrooms

Different types of mushrooms on a wooden cutting board.

Mushrooms are popular for their hearty texture, savory flavor, and versatility in many different types of recipes. They can be eaten fresh, dried, or cooked, chopped into stir-fries, added to pasta sauce, used as a substitute for meat, and the list goes on. Mushrooms are also a good source of Vitamin D and antioxidants, and individual mushroom varieties have a wide range of health and nutrient benefits. 1

Mushroom Varieties to Try

Portobello

Portobello mushrooms have large, meaty caps just the right size to fit in a bun, which is why they are popular to grill and eat as burgers.They have an earthy, savory flavor that makes them a great alternative to meat in dishes like lasagne or shepherd’s pie. Portobello mushrooms are an excellent source of Vitamin D and antioxidants, which work to maintain a healthy immune system. These mushrooms also contain a large amount of potassium, a mineral that boosts cardiovascular health and can help prevent osteoporosis. 2 3 4 

Turkey Tail

Turkey tail mushrooms are round and flat with a variegated color pattern. The shape and color of these mushrooms resembles a turkey’s tail, giving them their name. They have a mild, earthy flavor and may appeal to people who are hesitant about mushrooms because turkey tail mushrooms do not have a strong taste. These mushrooms are packed with antioxidants and have been shown to improve the immune system. They also contain compounds called polysaccharopeptide (PSP) and polysaccharide-K (PSK), both of which have been shown to fight cancer cells. 5 6 

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane mushrooms have a fibrous, furry texture that makes them look like pom-poms or lions’ manes. They have a savory taste that many people describe as being similar to crab, lobster, or other seafood. Lion’s mane mushrooms are a good source of immune-boosting antioxidants and they also help improve cognitive function, focus, and can alleviate feelings of anxiety. 7 These mushrooms’ positive impact on brain function is due to neuroactive compounds that promote neuron synthesis, resulting in better focus and reduced brain fog. 8

Mushroom Miso Soup

This is the base for a delicious and easy broth soup. You can add other vegetables and the protein of your choice.  Scallions are used for the early onset of colds and flus. Miso, or fermented soybeans, has been used for intestinal health as well alkalizing and reducing inflammation. Mushrooms help with overall immunity.

Recipe courtesy of NUNM

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried mushrooms of your choice (shiitake, portobello, king mushrooms, or a mix of these work well)
  • 6 cups of water
  • Ginger – 1 inch, julienned
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 4 -6 tbsp miso of your choice (Red miso is commonly used in restaurants. Yellow miso has an earthy flavor.  White miso is mild and sweeter.)

Additional Optional Ingredients:

  • Spinach leaves
  • Tofu, cubed
  • Protein of your choice
  • Pumpkin seeds, slightly roasted for crunch
  • Wakame seaweed

Directions

Bring water to a boil. Add dried mushrooms to rehydrate. Wait until softened, about 10 minutes.  Drain liquid and keep off to the side–this is your mushroom stock. Slice up the mushrooms. If the center stem is still too hard, you can discard that or keep for use in other stocks.

Heat up mushroom stock. julienned ginger slices, chopped scallions and 1 tsp. of miso. Add the mushrooms and additional ingredients if desired. Be sure to not boil the broth again since it will deactivate the live cultures of the miso. Serve immediately. 

4 small servings

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the healing capacity of food and other natural health practices, naturopathic medicine may be a good fit for you.

 

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