Nutrition, Education, and Motivation that remind us why Plants-Rule.  Supporting a plant-based, whole-foods diet with scientific evidence.  A chef's passion for ingredients with the realistic practicality of a home cook.  These articles offer insight into the benefits of a vegan diet with the humor to support a balanced healthy lifestyle. 

5 Things you Never Knew about Mushrooms

It's mammoth! Chef Katie found this massive guy at the Green City Market today, grown by the team at River Valley. Now who has a grill big enough for this beast? Use for Charred Poblano and Mushroom Tacos or Belgian Mushroom Stew. More recipes at:

When you bite into a beefy Portabella mushroom, there is a glimmering thought in the back of your mind that realizes you are eating fungus.  You might even have images of wild mushrooms that grow under trees and hide  under logs.  But I bet you're also wondering "Why do these taste so meaty?"  "Is there really any nutrition in these?"  "Is this poisonous?"

Here comes the Mushroom trivia:

1) Mushrooms have Umami:  Mushroom contain Glutamate.  This amino acid rates high on the "umami" scale, giving you a rich, deep flavor.  While some think of MSG when the term glutamate comes up, the glutamate in mushrooms is completely safe.

2) Wash your mushroom...under running water.  I still remember watching the episode of "Good Eats" with Alton Brown where he cleaned mushrooms two ways: washing under running water vs. scrubbing each one individually.  He measured how much water the mushrooms absorbed after cleaning.  Despite what any "chef" says, mushrooms don't absorb water when you wash them.  It's a lot faster to rinse a batch under water vs. cleaning each on individually.  If you're really concerned about moisture, just dry them off with a towel before grilling.

3) Mushrooms are grown in manure.  If you need more motivation to wash your mushrooms, know that most mushrooms you buy at the store are grown in "sterilized manure".  So, yes, wash your mushrooms!

Portabella Mushrooms provide hearty, substantial flavor and great texture. You want to scoop out the gills, though, which can water down and discolor your dish. Chef Katie shows you how to quickly do this, with just a spoon. Use them in Charred Poblano Mushroom Tacos or Belgian Mushroom Stew.

4) The gills are watery and black.  This is why I scrape them out of portabellas.  This isn't essential, but it creates more intense flavor and a prettier presentation.

5) Mushrooms pack vitamin D.  It's true.  Vitamin D can be one of the hardest nutrients to get, especially if you live in an area where the sun only shines a few months of the year.  In fact, mushrooms are one of the few non-fortified sources of Vitamin D.  The good news?  One grilled Portabella has about 500 IUD of VItamin D, and only about 35 calories.  Eat up!

6)  Truffles are mushrooms.  It's true, they are a tuber variety of mushrooms, with options from Chinese black truffles to white truffles.  Mushrooms are often named for their appearance, where they are found, or their flavor:  

White button (looks like a round, white button)

Oyster mushrooms (taste similar to oysters)

Shiitake (comes from "mushroom of the oak" because they were found under oak trees,

Lion's mane (bright golden mushroom)

Hen of the Woods (with an orangish tint)

Hungry yet?  Maybe this will inspire you: