Mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and, its no wonder, as they are a powerhouse of nutrition. Mushrooms are low in calories and fat, contain fiber and have high levels of antioxidants, including selenium and glutathione, which reduce chronic inflammation. They are the richest source of the antioxidant ergothioneine, a chemical that helps the body eliminate free radicals and modulate overall inflammation. Mushrooms directly affect the TH1 cytokines which are specific immune system cells linked to auto-immune responses. They are usually involved in fighting foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria, but can become triggered in auto-immune diseases to attack our own cells. Mushrooms help regulate our immune reaction by balancing our TH1/TH2 levels.
Mushrooms are neither plant nor animal, but fungi, and are the only vegan, non-fortified dietary source of vitamin D. They are also on the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 list as they have low levels of pesticides. They contain prebiotic polysaccharides which provide nutrition for bacteria in the microbiome like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium .
Perhaps most importantly from a cooking perspective, mushrooms pack plenty of umami. Umami, considered the fifth taste alongside sweet, sour, salt and bitter, is a savory flavor created by glutamate, also found in meat, cheese and fermented foods. The recipe below offers an umami punch with both mushrooms and miso to drive the flavor in this veggie-packed version of miso soup.
Kitchen-Prescription Recipe: Miso Soup: Recipe by Billy Boudreau (Canyon Ranch chef for over a decade)
Kitchen Prescription is thrilled to announce our collaboration with Chef Billy Boudreau! Chef Billy taught cooking at Canyon Ranch for 15 years and is currently developing a culinary learning program at Berkshire Co-op. He is certified in culinary coaching from the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, a division of Harvard Medical School. He finds artichokes sexy and lobsters sexier.
4 cups of vegetable broth or stock
4 tablespoons sweet white or mellow white miso
1 cup chopped spinach ( or chard, kate or napa cabbage)
½ cup thinly sliced green onions ( reserve a few tablespoons as a garnish)
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms ( remove the stem by pulling it off)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
Heat the oil on medium high and add the mushrooms. Let them brown.
After mushrooms are browned add the onions and saute quickly.
Add the vegetable broth and when the broth begins to simmer take a little out and mix in the miso to form a loose paste.
Add the miso and the greens and cook until wilted.
Garnish with the sesame oil and the reserved green onion.
Add cooked ramen noodles and cubed tofu to this recipe to make a noodle bowl. Use Lotus Foods gluten free brown rice ramen noodles. Cook the noodles ahead, drain, and toss with a little sesame oil before ladling into the soup.
Store mushrooms in paper bags to absorb moisture, and prevent spoilage in the refrigerator.
Mushrooms should only be eaten cooked, They should not be eaten raw, as they contain traces of cancer-causing substances which are neutralized through the heat of cooking.
Dried shiitake mushrooms can be rehydrated in broth or hot water. These mushrooms are dried in the sun, and contain Vitamin D3. This is the active form of Vitamin D which promotes calcium absorption, and helps with immune regulation.