You say you’re a true-blue carnivore? Fine.
But there are times when you want to slip something a little different onto the grill, something that provides a rich, meaty flavor—without the meat. And if it was good for you, well so much the better.
Meet the mushroom.
Long considered just a sautéed sidekick to burgers and steaks, this Clark Kent of the fungus world is actually a nutritional Superman. Mushrooms are a good low-calorie source of the trace mineral selenium as well as a number of antioxidants.
While several types of mushroom, especially reishi and shiitake, are being researched for their beneficial effects, even the plain old white button variety has shown impressive health-supporting skills.
The button mushroom is the most common type, accounting for 90% of all mushrooms eaten in the US. It has a mild, go-with-anything flavor that makes it the perfect addition to pasta, pizza and salads.
The crimini and portobello are actually two stages of the same mushroom. The young crimini has a deeper flavor than white mushrooms, although not as deep as the fully mature portobello. The portobello’s large size and dense texture makes it the perfect meat substitute, as in the wrap recipe shown here.
The shiitake is another large mushroom. It has a rich, woodsy flavor that only comes out when it is cooked—it’s great stir-fried. The rippling, frond-like maitake, also called “hen of the woods,” features a robust taste that makes it a suitable in both main and side dishes.
When shopping, find mushrooms that are firm and plump with smooth, dry surfaces. Closed gills indicate a more delicate flavor, while exposed gills promise a deeper, richer taste.
Refrigerate mushrooms in the original packaging; once opened, transfer unused mushrooms to a paper bag for cold storage. Clean them with a damp paper towel or rinse them quickly in cold water and pat dry.
Want a hearty vegetarian lunch? These mushroom-based wraps fill the bill.
4 large portobello mushrooms, sliced (or 8 oz white button mushrooms, quartered)
2–3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt-free steak seasoning
salt, to taste
2 tsp fresh minced ginger
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
Yield: 4 wraps
Source: The Mushroom Council and Flatout Wraps
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.