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Mushrooms for your Immune System

Here are some easy methods for cooking mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms are truly a cook's best friend. Whether you need just a little something to dress things up or add a whole new dimension of flavor, your answer is mushrooms.

Cooking mushrooms in high-temperature water such as boiling and microwaving may cause its water-soluble nutrients (B vitamins, potassium) to escape in the cooking water. Sautéing quickly over high heat, or simmering over low heat, such as in soups, are ideal cooking methods for preserving nutrients.

  • Add chopped mushrooms into salads, omelets, scrambled eggs, stir-fries, pasta sauces, chilis, or soups.

  • Sauté mushrooms in olive oil and add to cooked pasta or whole grains.

  • Grill large portobello mushroom caps. Remove the stems and gills if desired. Marinate the mushrooms for 10 minutes in a favorite sauce. Grill for about 3 minutes each side until they caramelize.

  • Mushrooms make a great replacement for meat because of their umami flavor. Replace about a quarter to a half of the meat in a recipe with chopped mushrooms. Basic Preparation: There is no need to peel mushrooms. The only trimming they may need is the stem end, if it's dry, or the tough stem portion of Shiitakes or the root of the Portabella. All other mushroom stems may be prepared along with the caps. Mushrooms can be sliced thick or thin, cut in quarters, coarsely or finely chopped using a sharp knife. For slicing or chopping large quantities, use a food processor with the slicing or wing blade attachment. If a recipe calls for just caps, twist stems loose or separate them from the caps with the tip of a knife. Sautéing: (The most popular way to cook mushrooms) For each eight ounces of mushrooms, melt one tablespoon butter or heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Add mushrooms. Cook and stir until golden and the released juices have evaporated, about five minutes. Don't overcrowd the skillet or the mushrooms will steam rather than brown. Microwaving: Mushrooms cook extremely well in the microwave. Simply clean and cook as follows: Put eight ounces thickly sliced mushrooms in a microwaveable bowl (no oil or butter needed); cover and cook on HIGH (100% power) for two to three minutes stirring once. Roasting: Place mushrooms in a shallow baking pan, Toss with a little oil and roast in a 450 F oven, stirring occasionally until brown, about 20 minutes. Use about one tablespoon of oil for each eight ounces of mushrooms. Grilling or Broiling: (Preferred for larger capped mushrooms like Portabellas and Shiitakes) Lightly brush caps and stems with oil to keep them moist, and season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil 4 to 6 inches from heat source for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, brushing again once or twice. Seasoning: Mushrooms are very similar to meats and other vegetables. Virtually any and all seasonings go well with mushrooms. If serving as a side dish, use seasonings compatible with the main dish. Reprinted with permission Courtesy of the Mushroom Council and 1. Simply rinse mushrooms under cold running water and dry on kitchen paper. Never soak, peel, or remove the stalk.

2. If mushrooms are pre-packaged, transfer to a paper bag or kitchen paper and store in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator, for a maximum of five days.

3. Mushrooms are hand-picked but bruise easily so treat them carefully. Look for firm white button and closed cup mushrooms and remember that the larger the mushroom, the more the flavor develops.

Although considered a vegetable, mushrooms are neither a plant nor animal food. They are a type of fungus that contains a substance called ergosterol, similar in structure to cholesterol in animals. Ergosterol can be transformed into vitamin D with exposure to ultraviolet light. Mushrooms vary in appearance with more than10,000 known types, but generally they are distinguished by a stem, fleshy rounded cap, and gills underneath the cap. China and the U.S. are among the top five producers of mushrooms worldwide.

Edible mushrooms like maitake and shiitake have also been used as medicine throughout history. Other mushrooms that are too tough to eat have been used solely for medicinal purposes such as reishi. Plant chemicals and components in mushrooms may exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects, but the exact mechanism is still unclear and an area of active research.

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