Mushrooms: meaty, mighty, medicinalNovember 2, 2011
Having quality mushrooms in your repertoire will add new dimensions to your vegan life. Savory and grounding, they give you that satisfied feeling that some seek when replacing meat. And having been used in natural medicine for thousands of years, we reap multiple rewards for having mushrooms in our diets—immunologically, neurologically, energetically, and even spiritually. Mushrooms are complex organisms—no roots, seeds, or leaves, they seem neither plant nor animal, but otherworldly.
The studies on each variety are deep and fascinating. Medicinal varieties are known to have a dual-directional "special intelligence" when it comes to their healing properties, an ability to "know" how they are needed in our bodies, for example, either to be stimulating to a weak immune system or to subdue an overactive nervous response. And with DNA 80% identical to our own, medicinal mushrooms like reishi, shiitake, cordyceps, maitake, and chaga are used very efficiently by our immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems.
David Wolfe and Paul Stamets are mycologists to follow to learn more about supplementing with medicinal mushrooms. General mushroom benefits include:
•Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, D.
•Quality (bio-available) essential amino acids (aka proteins).
•Iron, potassium, selenium, phosphorous, copper.
•Increased immunity against viruses, bacteria, pollution, and molds.
•Energy balancing, increased endurance. •Antioxidants, anti-cancer, anti-inflammation.
Okay, nutritionally beneficial, CHECK. Now on to eating and taste. I was recently craving something "meaty," but stood grossed out at the processed faux-meat selection at the store. I don't like single item foods that contain 1,000 ingredients. I waited out the craving and a few days later took a photo of this amazing mushroom bloom near a friend's house. That week, I found the same mushroom at the Hollywood Farmer's Market booth LA Funghi (did the universe bring it to me?! Is this the spiritual effects of mushrooms?!). It's called "Chicken of the Woods." WHOOOOAAAA. Check out that texture, right? We marinated it in a little olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and mustard, and sauteed it in a bit of water. Craving 100% satisfied.
It's in season, so it's a staple in our fridge right now. Last night, I made a chicken-of-the-woods noodle soup:
A google search for "gourmet mushrooms" and your zip code will find you the real "mycophiles" in your hood. And your local grocer will carry at least brown and white caps or portobellos (great for grilling and sandwhiches) and shiitake (easy addition to miso soups). Pick only the ones that look fresh and free from wet spots and mold. You can even buy grow-at-home kits now.
Happy eating, happy living!