Mushrooms: meaty, mighty, medicinal

November 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!

Raw Vegan Probiotic Nut Cheese

September 26, 2011


Raw vegan almond cheese topped with dried oregano & pepper flakes

This is way easier than I thought. Don't worry about exact measurements, just experiment with the following basic idea:
Soak cashews or almonds, blend with probiotic, let sit.

Here's what I did:
1. Soak raw cashews in water for at least 2 hours. The longer you soak, the softer they become, the better they blend. If you use almonds instead, soak overnight and then pinch each one to peel off the skins.

2. Drain the nuts and blend with sea salt and a few squeezes of lemon juice to taste. Add just enough water— a tiny bit at a time—to make it blend. Optional: add nutritional yeast, garlic, herbs, etc, to taste.

3. Add a probiotic element. This could be a spoonful of organic miso paste, a TBS of coconut kefir, or the powder inside a probiotic capsule. Blend gentlyfor a couple of seconds (it's best not to "chop up" the microscopic culture strains).

Step 4 with our little rock weight.

Some people skip the next cheese-cloth step and just put the mixture into a boiled-clean glass jar. But we did this:

4. Hang a double-bagged cheese-cloth inside a jar and pour in the mixture. Fold in the inside bag and lay a small weight on top to press out any liquid, we used a little rock!


Step 5

5. Cover the jar with a cap or plate and place it in a room-temperature spot for 24-48 hours. We actually put our jar in the dehydrator set on 100 degrees (low) to speed up the process overnight.

In the end, you can use the liquid collected at the bottom of the jar as the probiotic element in the next batch. You'll know it's done because it will smell "cheesy." The longer you leave it, the more sour (fermented) the cheese will be. Pack the drained mixture into a glass container, let cool in the fridge, and enjoy! Optional: top with dried oregano and pepper flakes.

Sugarcane Cooler

July 11, 2011



Los Cubanos call it guarapo, Los Mexicanos call it jugo de caña...it's sugarcane juice. Blend it with a few cherry tomatoes and ice...we know this sounds like a strange pairing, but it's incredible. And kids will go crazy for it, like it's a 7-11 strawberry slushee. And since it's an unrefined sugar, green, alkalizing, low-glycemic, and full of phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium in it's raw form, it's all good—even if you're a diabetic.

Tip: buy the sugarcane juice fresh and freeze it into ready-to-use ice cubes for later use. Or—a hint from our favorite L.A.-based Raw Cane juicers: keep the cane in the fridge for 3+ weeks with a balloon instead of a cap (so you can release the pressure buildup as needed) and you get sparkling, probiotic, sugarcane kombucha—good for the gut!

 

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