I didn’t always like mushrooms. But, as an adult, I have learned to love them. Once you read about all of the health benefits mushrooms offer, I think you will want to eat lots more of these little nutritional powerhouses!

Nutritional Information:

Here are some highlights of the nutrition in mushrooms:


  • Mushrooms can be an excellent source of Vitamin D. If you grab a container off the shelf and scarf them on spot this might not be the case. Here’s why: Much like your skin produces vitamin D in the sunlight, so do mushrooms. So after you buy mushrooms, give them a sunbath on a windowsill before you eat them. One study showed that 5 minutes of UV light bumped a serving of mushrooms to 869% daily value of Vitamin D! The bump in Vitamin D is so good and important because deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, colon, breast and prostate cancers. It has also been shown to improve mood! And most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. So especially for those of us in climates where the winter sun is not strong enough to produce enough UV rays necessary for our bodies to produce this vitamin, eat some mushrooms!
  • Mushrooms are low calorie, but high nutrients like B vitamins, selenium and potassium
  • Mushrooms boost immune function! Mushrooms have been shown to aid in the production of protein in your body that fights pathogens. Many of the other nutrients in mushrooms also support your immune system.
  • Mushrooms are high in antioxidants!
  • Eating mushrooms may aid in reducing cholesterol. These studies are still in early phases, but are looking promising!
  • Mushrooms are a good source of protein!

How to Handle and Prepare:

There are many different varieties of mushrooms, so I will highlight how to handle the ones you are most likely to run into. With any of these mushrooms you will want to brush off any visible dirt. I keep a soft dish brush designated just for fruits and veggies that I use to scrub potatoes and the like, so I use this to brush off the dirt. A good old fashioned towel will do a wonderful job too.

Button Mushrooms: these are the most common variety. The stems are not too firm, so do not need to be removed. You will sometimes see them raw in salads, but I recommend you cook all your mushrooms as they are one of the foods that increase nutritional value after cooking. These mushrooms are mild and go great in almost anything.

Shiitake Mushrooms: these are my favorite because they have a lower moisture content, so the texture doesn’t get as spongy when you cook them. They also get a lovely golden brown when you cook them. The stems are tough and woody, so you will want to remove them. You can use the stems in stock or pulse them up well to use as a flavor base for things like soups and risotto. I use these as my go to mushrooms for most recipes, but they are traditionally found in Asian cooking.

Portabella Mushrooms: These are the big guys that are about the size of a hamburger. You will want to scoop out the gills and remove the stem. These are wonderful substitutes for meat as they have a meaty flavor and texture. They also fit perfectly on a hamburger bun!

Crimini aka Baby Bella Mushrooms: These are the younger variety of the portabella, I like to remove the stems but if you don’t mind their woodier texture you can leave them on. No reason to worry about the gills on these though. These tend to be a little more affordable than the larger variety, so I love to use them as a meaty replacement. They go really well with Italian cooking, and are great on pizza and pare well with balsamic vinegar.

Dried Mushrooms: You can find a lot of varieties of mushrooms dried these days. They have a similar nutritional profile and can sit around for a lot longer than the fresh varieties. I will warn you that they can smell… potent. You will want to soak them in some hot water to reconstitute, and then chop them up nice and fine. You can also just use the broth, which is yummy, but beware that there is often “crud” that will come off the mushrooms (dirt and sand and the like). It will sink to the bottom of the bowl that you are rehydrating the mushrooms and you want to make sure to avoid it. I may have eaten sand at the beach as a baby, but I am not such a huge fan these days.

Recipes with Mushrooms

Swedish Meatballs

Vegan “Beef” Stew

Chickpea Pot Pie

Veggie Dumplings


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