Ask Your Reasor’s Dietitian: Mushrooms

Posted on June 11th, 2018
Today’s question comes from Bayley: “What good are mushrooms? What nutritional value do they offer?” That is a great question, Bayley! Mushrooms are not only nutrient dense but they are also easy to incorporate into a lot of the meals you are already eating! Personally, they are one of my favorite vegetables and are something I frequently incorporate into the meals I cook at home. So let’s dive right in…..

1. Mushrooms can naturally contain Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been a common deficiency in Americans in recent years. Majority of the time, we create Vitamin D from sunlight. However, in recent years we have become more concerned with our UV exposure and taking precautions like sunblock and wearing hats and clothing that help protect our skin from the sun. When we block those rays, we are also inhibiting our body from making the Vitamin D it needs. Lucky for us, mushrooms can contain Vitamin D if they have been exposed to UV light. You can even try it at home by sticking your mushrooms out in the sunlight for 15 minutes with the “gills” up (the under/inside of the mushroom cap).

2. Mushrooms are a fantastic choice for a plant based diet.

Whenever I say the words “plant based diet” most people assume I mean vegetarian. But, meat lovers rejoice, you can also fall into the plant based diet category. Plant based diets primarily focus on including a generous amount of fruits and vegetables into our diet and still allow for meats, grains, and dairy! Mushrooms are a great addition to your meat based meals with only 15 calories in one cup, a good source of selenium (an antioxidant!), and they can help boost the nutritional value in your meals. Plus, with their ‘meaty’ texture and umami flavor profile (think savory), they are very satisfying when included in pasta sauce, chili, and other blended meals. Try replacing half of your ground meat in a recipe with 8 oz. of chopped mushrooms and you will be surprised by how much you like it and how nutritious it is for you! For more information on The Blend check out the Mushroom Council website. You can even take the #Blenditarian Pledge and try my award winning Chicken Parm Blend Burger.

3. Mushrooms are gentle on the planet

Did you know that mushrooms are great for sustainability? According to our friends from the Mushroom Council, one pound of mushrooms only use 1.8 gallons of water and 1.0 KWH of electricity?! On one single acre, farmers are able to grow 1,000,000 mushrooms, talk about utilizing space! And if all of this wasn’t enough, mushrooms are grown in beds of composted agricultural materials and after harvest the beds are made into potting soil!

4. There are 8 varieties of mushrooms commonly found and consumed for food!

With likely over 10,000 different varieties of mushrooms in North America alone, only 8 of those are commonly found in food. Here is a quick synopsis on the three mushrooms commonly purchased and their different uses.

WHITE BUTTON:
  • Most popular mushrooms in America, making up 90% of mushroom consumption
  • White in color
  • Mild taste
  • Flavor builds with cooking
  • Can be eaten raw or cooked
  • Commonly sauteed, as a pizza topping, or included on a burger
  • Heather’s favorite: blended with ground turkey or chicken, sauteed with broccolini, or grilled on a kabob

PORTABELLA:
  • A larger relative to crimini
  • Tan or brown caps
  • Deep and earthy flavor
  • Meaty texture
  • Try them grilled, broiled, or roasted
  • With their meaty texture and flavor, they are great blended into meat based meals or as a vegetarian option
  • Heather’s favorite: sauteed with balsamic glaze, sliced onto a layered summer salad, paired with a steak (beef), used as a pizza topping, and blended into ground pork or beef

CRIMINI
  • Also known as Baby Bellas
  • Have a similar shape to White Button mushrooms but have light-tan to dark-brown coloring and a firmer texture
  • Deep earthy flavor
  • Try them sauteed, microwaved, or cooked in any dish
  • Best served with beef and wild game and in vegetarian dishes
  • Heather’s favorite: cooked into pasta, blended into soups and chili, and sauteed with mixed vegetables (green beans, squash, zucchini, and onions)

Heather Steele, RD/LD is a Registered Dietitian and loves to garden, cook, and ride her bike! Heather offices out of the Reasor’s off 71st & Lynn Lane and also covers the 101st & Elm location for all of your food & nutrition needs.
Information included does not constitute medical advice and should only be used as a general recommendation for a healthy diet. Reasor’s Registered Dietitian’s opinions and recommendations are of their own; they are not paid to endorse any products.