Last Saturday I was doing yard work in our backyard when I noticed a mushroom that looked suspiciously like a morel. Let me say that I know nothing about foraging for wild mushrooms. The real potential of picking a poisonous one has, to my Mom’s relief, scared me off. But THIS one, was too tempting to ignore. I did some research and determined that it was indeed a true morel…so we cooked and ate it (apparently it is wise to thoroughly cook wild mushrooms).
Eating wild mushrooms isn’t something to do wily-nily. If you want to go mushroom-hunting, do lots of research, find a guide and/or join a mycological club.
Luckily, you can get a variety of interesting mushrooms in the grocery store, no guide book or bug spray needed.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of B and D vitamins and a good source of many minerals including selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. They are low in calories and are purported to have cancer prevention properties, so eat up!
Now I love a good burger, but I’ve been reading Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters” and want to incorporate less meat into my diet. Bittman encourages people to be “Lessmeatarians.” Bittman notes that global livestock production is responsible for more greenhouse gasses than transportation. He believes that small changes in people’s diet can help decrease global warming while improving your health. Eating less meat is one of the changes he recommends (cutting junk food out of your diet is another one). Bittman states “simple lifestyle choices (can) help you loose weight, reduce your risk of many long-term or chronic diseases, save you real money, and help stop global warming.” Sounds good to me.
A large portabella mushroom has about 30 calories. A 6-ounce hamburger patty weighs in at around 350 calories (more or less depending on how lean the ground beef is). Easy to see how the mushroom burger is a healthier choice. I won’t be swapping fungi for meat all summer, but once in a while it’s an inexpensive, flavorful, healthy substitute. Save the planet, slim your waist, and get a delicious meal all at the same time. That’s hard to pass up.
4 large Portobello mushroom caps, 4-5 inches in diameter
4 whole-wheat buns
4 thick slices of onion
1 cup Blue cheese (substitute your preferred cheese)
Few handfuls of arugula (or other greens)
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 garlic clove, minced
Dash cayenne pepper
-Select burger-sized, plump, firm mushrooms. Avoid limp, dried or slimy looking ones (if not using right away, store in the refrigerator wrapped in a paper towel).
-Clean mushrooms with a mushroom brush or damp cloth and remove their stems (I save the stems in a freezer bag for stock).
-Place in a dish, stem/gill side up.
-For the marinade, whisk together the vinegar, water, honey, garlic, cayenne pepper and olive oil and drizzle the marinade over the mushrooms.
-Cover and marinate for 30 minutes or more, turning mushrooms once.
-Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium high heat.
-Brush the grill with oil.
-Grill the mushrooms on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. The longer you cook the mushrooms, the meatier they get, just be sure not to burn them.
-With the gill side up, place blue cheese on the mushroom and cook until melted
-Place each mushroom on a bun and top with an onion slice, arugula, a tomato slice (if in season) and whatever condiments you prefer (like homemade mayo, ketchup, and mustard).
I think these Almond Joy knock-offs are down right healthy for you. Granted, it is a high-fat candy, but the fat is from almonds and coconut oil, two things I have no problem eating. Coconut oil is purported to have antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. The almonds give you a healthy dose of vitamin E. The cocoa powder is a good source of antioxidants. What’s not to love? These do have about 120 calories each … so don’t go overboard!
Keep these treats either in the freezer of refrigerator. Unlike M&M’s, these do melt in your hand!
This recipe is adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet blog. I love this recipe and have been making it weekly.
1/2 cup almonds, plus 24 whole almonds
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup of honey
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons honey (or more if you want it sweeter)
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
Keep either in the freezer or refrigerator.
Note: If you don’t have a mini-muffin pan, you can use a regular one. Makes 12 large (note large will have 240 calories and 2 grams of added natural sugar).
Did you know you can make baking powder? The benefit is no aluminum, which for a discerning pallet can be off-putting. Plus, who wants to eat aluminum?
1/4 cup cream of tarter
2 tablespoons baking soda
Sift all of the ingredients together a few times.
Store in a tight-sealing jar, in a cool dark place. It only keeps for a couple of months, so don’t make too much at a time.
If you are squeamish about eating raw eggs homemade mayonnaise may not be for you. I, like most people, have spent years not eating things with raw eggs. Not licking the beaters after making chocolate chip cookies was probably the hardest raw-egg situation to pass up. I used to take the beaters straight from the mixer and dump them in the sink so I wouldn’t be tempted. With the outbreaks of salmonella in pistachios, peanut butter, cilantro and spinach, I began to rethink the whole raw-egg scare. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.
I only use raw eggs we buy fresh from a local farmer. You can also buy pasteurized eggs, but where’s the fun in that.
Homemade mayonnaise will keep for about a week refrigerated. According to Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions, you can extend the shelf life by adding tablespoon of whey. After adding the whey, you then leave the mayo out on the counter overnight to activate the good bacteria. This will increase the shelf life by a couple of months.
Yes, Mom, I made something with raw eggs, left it out on the counter overnight and then ate it.
Making mayo is a bit tedious. To have the emulsion work, you have to add the oil very, very slowly, but it is worth the effort!
Here’s the recipe:
You can use a regular blender, mixer or a whisk but I’ve had the best results using an immersion blender.
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon of fresh whey (optional)
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups sunflower oil or mild olive oil
-Place two egg yolks, lemon juice, whey, salt, mustard, pepper in a narrow container (just big enough the fix the immersion blender) and blend well with an immersion blender.
-Slowly add the oil. With an immersion blender, you can add the oil fairly quickly. Otherwise, add the oil drop by drop.
-Mix until it starts to thicken and looks like mayonnaise. Taste and adjust seasoning.
-Transfer the mayo to a jar with a lid. If you’ve added whey, leave the jar on the counter overnight (7-8 hours) then refrigerate. If you did not add whey, keep refrigerated.
If you want to be fancy, add garlic and call it aioli. Ymmmm.