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I just love fall. The colors of the leaves, the need for long sleeves, but best of all, taking advantage of nature’s bounty to bring the nutrish and delish to the dish. I am a mushroom fan- all types, as a main course or as a side, they are so versatile in addition to being a nutritional powerhouse and they rise to the occasion for all eating plans.

Mushrooms are high in umami, the savory sense and have a meaty texture, making them great as front and center on the plate. A portobello mushroom can be the burger, or the bun. Let’s do the blend, by combining 50% ground meat with 50% chopped mushrooms for burger, meatballs or meatloaf with flavor to savor AND you will use less meat and still have a taste that can’t be beat.

Mushrooms get an A+ for nutrition. They are high in fiber, contain prebiotic fiber to support a healthy gut, have no fat or cholesterol and also low in sodium. They contain potassium, B vitamins, Phosphorus, selenium, copper and some mushrooms are high in Vitamin D. Look for that information on the package. Mushrooms also contain antioxidants to keep the cells healthy, and support a healthy immune system. The fiber in mushrooms can also help to lower cholesterol and there have been  studies on the role of mushrooms in lowering the risk of gum disease and also mild cognitive impairment. Check out this awesome website  https://www.mushroomcouncil.org

There are so many varieties to choose from. Sure you can use the white button or crimini mushrooms but how about trying enoki, oyster, maitake, shiitake or a variety of them in an omelet, or a veggie saute, or even roasted veggies. Mushrooms do not put a strain on land or water so they really are a sustainable addition to our diet. f you are interested in foraging, don’t do that alone, go with those who know which mushrooms are safe. Western Pennsylvania grows great mushrooms. 44% of US mushrooms grow in PA. To find out more https://wpamushroomclub.org.

I love mushrooms in so many ways and here are some of my favs:

Mushrooms added to a soup. This is a mushroom beef barley soup and adding the mushrooms allows you to use less meat. This soup is on the menu at Sprezzatura

Mushrooms added to a rice, couscous, or pasta for a savory side dish. For the past 2 years, I have done presentations and cooking demonstrations at the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, PA. Here are the two recipes from this year!

A mushroom tapenade that could be served a as a dip, on crostini with ricotta, as a topping for halibut or cod, or as a filling for a chicken breast

MUSHROOM PRUNE WALNUT TAPENADE

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup assorted mushrooms, finely chopped
  • ½ cup shallots, minced
  • ½ c orange pepper finely chopped
  • ½ cup walnuts chopped
  • ½ cup prunes, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp cracked pepper
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Crostini
  • Full fat ricotta
  • Fig balsamic vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil. Add shallots, brown slightly, add peppers and walnuts, cook for 2 minutes, add mushrooms, and saute until tender. Stir in prunes, parsley, salt, black and red pepper and cook 2-3 more minutes. Remove from heat

How about portobello mushrooms coated with peanut powder and crushed peanuts? Yum. They are great as an entrée or cut up and added to a salad with arugula, blueberries, olives and feta cheese.

PEANUT COATED PORTOBELLOS

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 portobellos- stems and bitter fins removed, and sliced into 1/3 inch thick wedges
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper- ½ teaspoon
  • Olive oil- 3 TBSP
  • ¾ cup salted peanuts, finely ground
  • 2.5 TBSP peanut powder
  • 1 teaspoon powdered harissa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten

INSTRUCTIONS

In one bowl, beat the eggs until well blended. Set aside. In another bowl, mix together flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper. In a third bowl, blend the peanuts, peanut flour, harissa and ½ teaspoon salt.

Coat the mushroom slices with flour, then dip them in the egg and finally the peanut mixture. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan. When the oil is sizzling, add the mushroom slices, and cook for 5 minutes per side. Remove from heat, and drain on a paper towel.

A mushroom stroganoff does not have to have meat. A mushroom s’more could use a portobello, sauteed, or grilled, add a little pesto, and fresh mozzarella, and done! 

Next time you make a spaghetti sauce, add some mushrooms, throw some on pizza, caramelize mushrooms and onions together, or pick up the delicious veggie lasagna at Sprezzatura that features mushrooms.

So be a fun-gal or Fun-guy and find ways to enjoy mushrooms every day in all ways.

Leslie Bonci

Leslie Bonci is a Pittsburgh-based registered dietitian, sports dietitian and owner of Active Eating Advice by Leslie Bonci. She works with professional athletes ) surreal people) and real people to help them strategize, optimize and realize their goals. Leslie is an author, blogger and media expert. She and her husband Fred reside in Point Breeze and are the parents of two sons and grandparents to 3 little ones. 

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