Delicious and nutritious – there are many health befits of mushrooms. They're incredibly versatile to cook with too. Here are my top 10 reasons to cook with mushrooms along with some of favorite vegan recipes. These dishes will take you from breakfast through lunch and all the way to dinner.
When I was young, I didn’t think I liked mushrooms. It’s possible that the reason behind it was that my mom didn’t like them, and by default, I didn’t either. Or it could be because when she did buy them for my dad, they were canned. And canned anything taste awful.
When I went vegetarian in the early 90s, I decided to try them out of curiosity. I discovered that I really, really liked them. My mom would smell them cooking and ask to try them. Once I heard her tell someone that she didn’t like mushrooms unless I cooked them. I had to explain to her that I wasn’t doing anything special, and that I suspected what she actually didn’t like were the kind from a can. She didn't listen.
Mushrooms are Delicious and Nutritious
These days, they're are a mainstay in my diet and I eat them several times a week. And with good reason. Not only do mushrooms have umami, which is a flavor that a lot of vegetables are lacking, but they are also packed full of nutrients. There are thousands of varieties of these tasty fungi, but only about 100 have been studied for their health benefits.
How to Cook Mushrooms
Because they have tough cell walls, they should be cooked before eating. Heating them before eating will help release the vitamins and minerals they contain.
Mushrooms are really versatile, and you can do many things with them in the kitchen. They can be sliced and pan-fried or sautéed. You can roast them or grill them. They can be eaten as a main dish, mixed into a main dish, or served as a side. You can use them in the place of meat in many omnivore recipes.
Some of the best mushrooms to cook with are:
- Baby Bella (also known as crimini)
- White Button
- Chicken of the Woods
These tasty vegetables are so good that even have their own “holiday.” Did you know that April 16th is The Day of Mushroom?
Health Benefits of Mushrooms
They’ll Keep You Regular
These little fungi are full of fiber, which is crucial for keeping the bowls regular and for flushing toxins out of the body.
Blood Sugar Stabilization
The high fiber content of mushrooms, along with their natural insulin and enzymes, have been shown to help improve blood sugar levels in diabetics.
The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C in mushrooms are all good for the heart. These nutrients work together to regulate blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
Another benefit to the high fiber content of mushrooms is that the body will feel satiated longer, resulting in less of an appetite.
They’ll Give Your Immune System a Boost
Mushrooms contain beta-glucan, which can protect against colds, the flu, and other viruses. They also contain selenium, which can boost the body’s production of killer T-cells. Shiitake, portobello, oyster and reishi mushrooms contain lentinan, which can help stimulate the immune system. When I'm feeling under the weather, I'll take a supplement for immune support.
They’re Known to Fight Cancer
The immune boosting compounds in mushrooms are known to fight cancer cells and prevent tumors from forming. Studies have shown that eating mushrooms on a regular can decreased the risk of breast, stomach, bladder and colon cancers. White button mushrooms in particular have been shown to significantly suppress breast cancer growth.
Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals in the body, and mushrooms are loaded with them!
They Can Speed Up the Metabolism
'Shrooms are chock-full of B vitamins, which help the body turn food into fuel. They can also help the body metabolize fats and proteins.
Mushrooms are the only vegetable that contains vitamin D. Just like humans, they produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption and immune function, among other things.
'Shrooms also a good source of umami, which is known as the fifth taste. Umami often described as the savory or meaty ‘mouth-filling’ taste, which a lot of foods in the plant world are missing.
Vegan Mushroom Recipes
Tofu scramble is the ultimate weekend brunch dish. You can prep it ahead of time so you have weekday breakfast ready to go, and you can also serve it as breakfast for dinner!
Mushrooms and spinach are a favorite food combination of mine, and this omelet is a favorite breakfast!
This dish is always perfect for a weekend brunch.
These wraps are perfect for lunch, and they make a great appetizer or light dinner. These asian-inspired wraps are made with tempeh and Thai peanut sauce, and they’re super easy to put together. They've received the thumbs up from self-proclaimed mushroom haters!
Grab a napkin, because things are about to get messy! These Vegan Sloppy Joes are a grown-up version of a childhood favorite.
This recipe from Vegan Cooking in Your Air Fryer by Kathy Hester makes the ultimate sandwich!
I always make this appetizer for the holidays. One year I skipped them, and I thought my guests were going to revolt!
Meaty criminis replace the traditional beef in this stroganoff recipe.
This dish doesn't take long to prepare, so it's good for a busy weeknight, but it looks fancy enough to serve to guests at a weekend dinner party.
Criminis are an ultimate pizza topping, and they pair well with cashew ricotta and arugula in this recipe.
This recipe is always a favorite at potlucks. In fact, it won Best Main Dish in the 2014 Virtual Vegan Potluck!
Mushrooms and marsala wine are a match made in heaven. You can serve this dish at dinner parties, but it's easy enough for your weeknight suppers, too.
What's your favorite way to cook mushrooms?