By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC
Let me introduce you to my friend fungus, the good kind, not the kind that grows in between your toes!
Mushrooms are bountiful in the fall and especially here on the west coast where mushroom foraging is an activity that many people take part in. By this time of year, plenty of mushrooms have been collected from our forests and there are still many more to grow. Now, before you get excited and start frolicking into the forest looking for your dinner. Remember that there are also many poisonous mushrooms too. Know your mushrooms well, forage with a professional/experienced forager or pick up a good mushroom identifying book and get educated.
There are many ways in which we can discuss mushrooms, the growth patterns, planting, production, oriental medicine, sustainable agriculture, harvesting methods, varieties and the seemingly everlasting life force that they thrive upon. For the sake of this article and this website, though, we must discuss mushrooms based upon their medicinal and nutritional values. Don’t worry, mushrooms have a plethora of these too.
Let’s first clarify the variety of mushrooms I will be referring to. Most mushrooms found in your grocery stores and the most commonly used mushrooms are button/white/field mushrooms. These are NOT a great source of any nutrients. In fact they contain, little to no nutrient value. The mushrooms that I mean to award for excellent nutrient value and support for great health are: Maitake, Reishi, Shitake, Crimini, Lobster and Chantrelle mushrooms. (Round of applause!)
If mushrooms are grown in a forest or area with good quality soil, all of these mushrooms will include high amounts of potassium, folate, selenium, zinc and B vitamins. These vitamins and minerals alone make mushrooms a great support for the immune system, the cardiovascular system, for anemia, vegans/vegetarians and for diabetics and hypoglycemics.
Mushrooms contain a very bio-available form of iron (ferrous gluconate), making it much easier on our systems to assimilate this vascular oxygenating nutrient. So, forget your constipating iron supplements and eat crimini mushrooms instead! (please don’t take that statement too seriously…always see your health practitioner for advice before making drastic changes to your health plans)
All of our white blood cells are positively impacted by the phytonutrients in mushrooms; particularly the crimini, who have a lengthily range of components that deliver amazing nutrient support on a cellular level. It’s these great nutrients that have the ability to deactivate some forms of cancer cells, especially those that are hormone related ie: breast and prostate.
For our immune systems and for our vegan/vegetarian friends shitakes are my favorite. They are composed of all 8 essential amino acids and are therefore considered a whole source of protein. The shitake is the meat of the plant world. A lot of these other mushrooms contain many amino acids as well and are therefore higher on the protein list for plant sources. When paired with another high source of amino acids ie: corn, millet, black beans, we are able to create a full vegetarian protein.
Mushrooms are known to be generally cleansing and inflammation reducing by increasing our oxidative metabolism. Also, due to the high amounts of B3, B6, B12 they are great support for the digestive/intestinal system, the nervous system and the hormonal system. They are an amazing food source for supporting individuals with diabetes, cardiovascular issues and again cancer.
These super-heroes have the nutrient composition to decrease overall cholesterol levels (total cholesterol, LDL and TG’s). They are a great antioxidant and impact our metabolism directly by increasing enzyme activity, thus AGAIN improving overall digestion and therefore assimilation of nutrients. It amazes me time and time again how whole foods naturally contain all that we need to obtain all of it’s nutritious glory! It’s like they’re placed here just for our bodies to thrive!
Often the nutritional research shows the value of mushrooms medicinally by discussing the mushroom extractions ie: tinctures, teas and extracts. These are also great options for using mushrooms to heal, protect and strengthen our systems for many different chronic and deep ailments.
I hope you now have a short glimpse of why I and many other health practitioners believe mushrooms to be so deserving of all 5 gold stars.
**Do note that if you are experiencing intestinal yeast overgrowth, that mushrooms can have adverse effects for you. Please do not consume mushrooms of any variety until you have (re-) established homeostasis in your gut. If you are unaware of how to do this, or identify this please see you Holistic health professional. Or contact any one of us on here anytime, we would be happy to guide you in the right direction!
Let me now share with you my favorite mushroom recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Marinated Imperial Mushrooms
- 15-20 mushrooms (shitake, maitake, lobster, crimini, chantrelle…)
- 1 tsp of each:
Cinnamon, cumin, fresh grated ginger, fresh grated turmeric, coriander sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- ½ tsp of each:
Nutmeg, clove, cardamom and anise.
- 5 cloves of garlic (chopped in half, lengthwise)
- 4 shallots (chopped in half, lengthwise)
- 1 small bundle of fresh thyme, stems removed
- 1 small bundle of fresh cilantro, stems removed
- 2 TBSP butter or coconut oil
- juice of 1 whole lemon
- Chop mushrooms into chunks/quartered.
- Slice garlic and shallots in halves.
- Mix all spices together with mushrooms, garlic, shallots and thyme Squeeze lemon juice over top and let marinate in a sealed container in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours.
- Once ready to cook, turn a frying pan onto medium heat.
- Put butter or coconut oil in pan.
- Toss marinated mushrooms into the frying pan, ensuring mushrooms are well saturated.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes, serve and top with chopped cilantro.