Meet the mighty mushroom

variety of mushrooms on cutting board

Mushrooms are somewhat of an anomaly in the culinary world. They are often thought of and used as a vegetable, when in reality, mushrooms don’t even belong to the plant family. Rather, mushrooms are vitamin- and nutrient-rich members of the fungi kingdom. For many people, thinking of mushrooms may call to mind pizza, salad or soup. However, there is a vast medley of ways in which the flavorful fungus can be used to bring more excitement and nutrition to your dining table.

Nutrients

Mushrooms are chock full of B vitamins and minerals, and are also the only naturally occurring vegan source of vitamin D. In fact, growers can increase vitamin D levels even further by subjecting their mushroom crops to ultraviolet (UV) light, which causes mushrooms to create more vitamin D, much like the human body does when exposed to sunlight. Vitamins B6, B9 (foliate), and B12 are linked to brain health and can be found in mushrooms. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient of concern for vegans since it is primarily found in animal products; consuming mushrooms can help vegans reach their needs. Mushrooms can also help this population consume more of the minerals copper, selenium, phosphorus, and iron, which may be sparse in the vegan diet.

One cup of mushrooms contains about two grams of protein, roughly 15 calories and no fat. Fiber content ranges depending on the variety, but all mushrooms contain some amount of soluble beta-glucan fiber and insoluble chitin fiber. Beta-glucans may decrease blood cholesterol and insulin resistance, which increases immunity and lowers the incidence of obesity. Additionally, mushrooms are a source of choline, a nutrient that aids memory, learning, muscle coordination, fat absorption, and sleep.

Health benefits

Mushrooms can help prevent or minimize the symptoms of a vast array of common health complications. They are rich in antioxidants, meaning that they may prevent the growth of cancer-causing free radicals in the body. The fiber in mushrooms is beneficial for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as it decreases blood sugar and improves insulin and lipid levels. Additionally, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber work together to lower blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber is also instrumental in weight control and satiety. Finally, selenium and beta-glucans both effectively increase immune function.

Chicken Mushroom Bake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (3 ounces each)
  • 1 packet HMR cream of chicken soup packet
  • 1 cup fresh, sliced mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Lemon pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix contents of soup packet with 6 ounces of boiling water. Add mushrooms and garlic.
  3. Place chicken in small casserole baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon pepper. Pour cream of mushroom soup mixture over chicken.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes or until done.

Serving suggestion

Serve with riced cauliflower.

Yield

Makes 2 servings

Source: Mushrooms: Nutritional value and health benefits http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/278858.php
Source: http://blog.bariatricchoice.com/chicken-mushroom-bake-bariatric-friendly/

Meagan Lutey is a dietetic intern with Beaumont Health. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

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