Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pantry Staple - Mushrooms

I have decided to start a new series entitled “pantry staples” in which I will talk about a food that we always have on hand, why we eat it and what you can do with it.   I know when we first went vegan I had no idea what to cook so I hope this will help you ease into a more healthful diet. The first food that I want to talk about is mushrooms.  I selected mushrooms to start this series because we try to eat them every day and I want you to know why.

Why should you have mushrooms on hand?

Mushrooms make a delicious and chewy meat substitute.  Additionally they also boost your immune system and have been linked to a reduction in the incidence of breast cancer.  Additionally you can use dried or fresh with the same nutritional benefits and the dried ones last an extremely long time.  In fact I keep dried mushrooms on the boat so I know they store well in variable temperatures.  Just be sure they are in a well sealed container if you are going to keep them in a humid environment like a boat.  Did you know that if you put either fresh or dried mushrooms in direct sun they produce vitamin D? Now I would not expect that to be enough but every little bit helps right?

What can do you with mushrooms?

Mushrooms are extremely versatile.  You can add them to salads, soups, sandwiches or entrees. The big portabella mushrooms make wonder burger substitutes.  I like to put dried mushrooms in the Vitamix and pulverize them to make mushroom powder. This powder can be used to flavor all kinds of things.  I like it on tofu, in sauces and gravies but it is also wonderful used in whole grain or starchy vegetable dishes.    Imagine porcini mushroom flavored mashed potatoes and you will see where I am going.

Can you eat mushrooms raw?

Eating some mushrooms raw is fine but don’t go overboard on these.  Mushrooms contain a low level of a natural toxin that is killed by heat so you should try to eat most of your mushrooms cooked rather than raw.

How do you use mushrooms most often?

Mushrooms are something that we try to eat every day. After reading that women who ate the equivalent of just one mushroom per day had a lower risk of breast cancer I knew we needed to eat more mushrooms. To make this happen I add them to as many dishes as possible.   You just need to be creative and look for ways to add them into your meals. They are good in soups, stews, casseroles, wraps (sandwiches) and on salads. Heck I even snack on the roasted ones cold straight out of the refrigerator.

What are your favorite ways to use mushrooms?

When I make soups, stews or casseroles they almost always contain mushrooms.  Additionally a couple of times per week I make a pan of roasted mushrooms that I add to salads and sandwiches.  Today I made balsamic and rosemary roasted mushrooms. This batch included:  1 pound of crimini mushrooms, approximately 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a fat tablespoon of minced fresh rosemary.  I tossed these together and roasted the mushrooms at 350 degrees convection for 15 minutes.

Here are the mushrooms before roasting.

This is the mushrooms after they were roasted.

I store the roasted mushrooms in a container in the refrigerator.  Tonight we added these to our salad.  This salad contained:  romaine, artichoke hearts (good for the liver), cold garbanzo beans (that I had cooked in the pressure cooker yesterday), marinara sauce (again cooked in the pressure cooker), roasted mushrooms and pine nuts.  As usual this was one of our huge salads in a serving bowl. Needless to say this was our meal. We had no room for anything else.

By the way for those of you who know that I use salsa for dressing I have discovered that marinara works just as well and being Italian I think a little bit better.  If you haven’t tried cold marinara on salad we really like it so you might want to give it a try.  I also love that I can make a big batch of it in my pressure cooker and then freeze it.  This way I always have some on hand that I made myself without salt.  *woo hoo*

What other options are there for flavoring roasted mushrooms?

I tend to make a few different flavor variations to mix things up:
  •       Vegan Worcestershire, finely minced garlic and no-salt seasoning
  •       Vegetarian oyster or stir fry sauce with finely minced garlic and ginger topped with sesame seeds
  •       Sherry vinegar and/or lemon juice, finely minced garlic and smoked paprika finished with fresh minced cilantro or parsley
  •        Red wine vinegar, chili powder and ground cumin finished with fresh minced cilantro
  • 5    Soy sauce (or liquid aminos), a touch of stevia and truffle (either truffle salt or truffle oil but go light on either of those since they aren’t the most healthy) – these are based on Ian’s and they are delicious but the least healthy of the five options so they don’t appear as often

I hope these variations gave you some ideas.  If you come up with any others please share your ideas.  I am certain that I am not the only one who would like to know about your ideas

Thanks for your feedback:

I love that so many of you are interested in juicing.  That makes me so happy.  I love having healthy friends/readers to share ideas with online.  You guys are the reason that I do this.  J 

I will definitely be doing a short juice fast again soon and when I do I will share the details with you.  Thank you again for your feedback on this question.  You guys rock!

Happy thoughts:
  1. Well you know that I have to start being grateful for the weekend.  I do love my weekends.  We will be going to DC for Shakespeare and a little nosh probably at Jaleo since it is around the corner.  However I also want to check out Sweet Greens. Have any of you been there?  It looks like something that we would love.  Check out the menu for ideas if you are so inclined.
  2. I am thrilled to be starting this year 2013 weighing less than I did at the start of 2012.  I ordered a skirt online last week and when it arrived it was too big.  Love that!  *happy dance*  Go juice!
  3. Yesterday I ordered Dr. Cousen’s book “Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine”.  You know me I will have to play around with the recipes since I can’t leave things alone. However I am looking forward to making some different dishes in the coming month.  See even I get bored with food.  ;-)
  4. Either this weekend or next we will be taking down the Christmas decorations.  I have to say if feels like they just went up so I may wait until next weekend. Every year Dan and I buy each other new ornaments for the tree.   I love looking at them and I wanted to share my favorites with you.

This is silver-plated mistletoe that I got Dan from Gump’s.  BTW if you haven’t been to the Gump's site please do yourself a favor and check it out. They have unique stuff that you won’t find anywhere else.  If you shop their sales you can get some things reasonably priced. Be warned, their stuff is not inexpensive.

He bought me a silver-plated seashell also from Gump’s.

I bought him a flying pig. The reference is basically now pigs are flying so anything is possible.  Dream big!

Dan bought me this fabulous flamingo that I wanted last year and didn’t buy.  Isn’t it cute?  My hubby sure does know me.

I bought him this little mouse that says Believe.  As you probably guessed he was to mean believe that anything is possible.  Are you starting to see a pattern?  LOL

Signing Out:

I got this post written much earlier than that last one thank goodness.  Now I need to get myself into the kitchen and do a little cooking. We are out of cooked beans for salad so I need to get my pressure cooker into action. 

I can’t promise that I will be blogging this weekend since this is Dan time. But I will try to make it happen. Wish me luck!  If I can't find time this weekend I will back to writing on Monday for a post scheduled to go up at midnight (between Monday and Tuesday).

Ciao for now.  I hope you have a magnificent weekend.


  1. Beautiful mushrooms! I've never tried roasting them and will make a batch asap. And mushroom powder...hmmmm, how interesting, must put that on my list.

    Stunning ornaments--I especially love the mistletoe! I haven't bought new ones in years, thinking that I already have plenty. But just after xmas I found a couple of glass owls that I really liked and bought. My new thinking is why not, it's a small pleasure!

    1. Laura,

      There is a post on the blog about mushroom powder. I think I used porcinis that time. I am sure you find it with a search.

      Thank you. I really like the mistletoe ornament too. The ornaments Dan and I have are all fairly recent. When the fur children were babies we didn't put up a tree for a few years because they were so lively. Then when we put it up we spent a lot of time searching for unbreakable ornaments which are hard to find in a style I like. We are slowly rebuilding our ornament collection because of our fuzzies. Our house revolves around them you know. LOL

      I agree go for it. Ornaments are a small pleasure and you like them why not?


  2. Great tip on the mushrooms! I have been wanting to add more into my diet, and roasting them, then keeping them in the fridge to use sounds perfect.

    1. Statch,

      I find that the roasted mushrooms last a good 5 days in the refrigerator. When you use them on everything like we do they tend to go pretty fast.


  3. Thanks! It's prefect timing -- I bought some bellas today and am going to roast them and take them for lunch over sauteed greens and onions the next couple of days. I'm going to print out your tips for different flavorings.

    1. Statch,

      Excellent! Mushrooms, greens and onions is a nutritional powerhouse of a lunch. Go you! Thanks for letting me know that I could help.

      BTW if you ever get to DC you must go to either Zaytinya or Jaleo. Dan and I had lunch and dinner there Sunday. No problem staying vegan and the food was AMAZING. I will be making my own Alicia versions soon. :-)

      Enjoy your 'shrooms,

  4. omgosh that pig looks exactly like little piggy! i love silver plated things, id like to do some feathers from the birds. ttylater, i should be going to bed:)

    oh i cant wait to read about your juicing. what machine/what mixes/did you lose weight/how does your skin look :) all that good stuff. i will be lurking around and reading about it tomorrow:)

    1. Michelle,

      I loved the little flying pig too! Feathers for the birds? You will need to tell me more about that.

      I used my Omega 8006 juicer, no mixes just produce, dropped 14 lbs in 16 days, no changes in my skin that I noticed but good question. It is so good to talk with you. I love your energy and curiosity. :-)



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