Human beings may reach the moon. They may reach the pinnacle of existence and may rid themselves of many necessities that bind them now, however, one thing that will still be indispensable is the need for food. Throughout our existence, as we have evolved from nomads to settlers, who formed civilizations, our food evolved with us too. Once we learned to cook our foot, there was no turning back from there. Baking, boiling, roasting and so many countless ways we use to make the food of our liking. So, it becomes natural that food should reflected our various cultures, economies and history and how far we have come as an intelligent species.
In the rapidly changing world of the twenty first century our food choices are much more refined. They are not just dictated by our need for sustenance anymore. There is a huge need for our food to be in line with our aesthetics, our lifestyle choices and our economic situation while still being healthy. One of the signs of this is the rise in popularity of organic food and as well as going vegan altogether. One food that particularly comes to mind is mushrooms as they are not only organic, tasty but healthy too. Mushrooms have a long history of being consumed as food specially in northeast Asia and Europe and are an integral part of their cuisines.
Mushrooms As Food
An important item in a middle-class kitchen, mushrooms have been preferred by masses who could not afford to buy meat or expensive cheese as their taste resembles the taste of meat. This quality also makes it very popular among vegans who are looking for a healthy replacement of meat. Combined with its savory taste mushrooms have maintained their importance even in the times when fast food is so popular. I for one like mushroom topping on my pizza. Mushrooms are also known for their characteristic unique taste.
Taste aside, this food item is also very healthy and is a preferred choice for health-conscious individuals. One of its numerous benefits is that it reduces sodium in blood. Sodium retains fluid in the body as the kidneys start to reabsorb all the water when there is sodium excess which can increase blood pressure which is not very desirable. So, mushrooms are good for people who are looking to keep their body sodium levels low. Mushrooms can help in lowering cholesterol levels. Specially shiitake mushrooms that contain certain components that can lower or stop cholesterol production. Mushrooms contain ergothioneine, a compound that slows cell damage and can even prevent it. Cell that are damaged are prone to become cancer cells. So, mushrooms in one’s diet can help lower the risk of cancer. Researchers found that substituting beef or red meat with mushrooms help with losing weight. Being rich sources of fiber, protein and antioxidants while still being low in calories means that they are very beneficial for people with diabetes, heart disease and other metabolic disorders. In the gut, they help promote the growth of gut friendly bacteria.
While the rest of the body is important, the mind and brain being healthy is equally vital. We live in an era where there is so much pressure on one’s mental faculties. The modern fast paced lifestyle makes on very susceptible to mental health disorders. While a lot of things can be blamed to the environment around us, one thing that is in our control is our diet. Mushrooms are that kind of food that promote brain health which is very helpful. Mental weakness that can be seen initially in diseases like Alzheimer’s can also be improved by consuming mushrooms while also reducing the risk of ever developing such disorders overall.
Mushrooms also act against inflammatory responses in the body. They also stimulate white blood cells so that they can fight off foreign disease-causing material, thus, helping to promote a healthy immune system which will make one less prone to illness. Being great sources of vitamin D, they are very helpful for people who rely on supplementation to get their daily recommended dose. White button and portabella mushrooms are particularly good for this. Just slice a couple mushrooms, expose them to sunlight for some ten to fifteen minutes and you’re good to go.
Whether you are an expert Michelin star chef or some complete novice, mushrooms are a delight to cook just as much as they are a delight to eat. What if I were to tell you that they are equally fun to grow? These days growing kits make it very easy to grow mushrooms on your own. One of the easiest to grown and high yield mushrooms are blue oyster mushrooms. With blue oyster mushrooms kits, it becomes even more easy to grow these beauties. Because the yield is very fast, they can a very good tool to get kids into growing their own food, who can be very impatient, as well as to someday adopt a very holistic hobby of gardening. Seeing something useful grow out of their own effort can foster very productive attitude in kids and can be very encouraging for them to venture into other creative stuff. Knowing the many benefits of these mushrooms and growing them from something like the blur oyster mushroom kit will the kids very health conscious too early in life which can prove to be very beneficial as they will be more mindful of their food choices even in the future.
Cooking mushrooms can be very easy and simple. In fact, they are one of those foods that can be easier to handle for those who find cooking other stuff more complicated and intimidating. However, the process of cooking starts with cleaning the mushrooms. It is advisable to wash them just when you are about to cook them. Otherwise, they can turn jelly-like as they absorb excess water. Make sure to dry them out afterword’s. It is fine to wipe with a wet cloth or paper towel though.
Now coming to the actual cooking, oyster mushrooms are a very easy to find type. The most common are pearl oyster and king oyster mushrooms. First chop the bottom stem of the mushrooms. Choose a utensil with a wide surface area. So that the mushrooms have a lot of room to move around. Sauté the mushrooms in olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add some spice, herb or some vegetable. Adding garlic can give it just the right bit of flavor. Next add some lemon juice to the mix just right at the end. This should give the whole thing a bit of freshness with its citrussy tinge.
Frying your mushrooms can be another great option. This can be a substitute for fried chicken. First choose spices of your liking in a bowl. Add some soy milk to that. Wisk the mixture thoroughly until it become a batter of smooth consistency. This will be your base. Now pick each mushrooms slice one by one and soak it in the mixture for at least a minute. Heat oil in a frying pan and put the soaked mushrooms in the pan. Let them cook until they are golden brown. Take them out carefully and place them in oil absorbing paper towel. You can now add some spice or lemon juice at the end.
Another option that works with the king oyster mushroom variety is that you can make a vegan version of pulled pork. First the mushrooms need to be shredded. There should be very fine shreds made. This can be done with two forks or hands. Then they go into the baking oven for about twenty minutes until they start to look crispy and brownish. After this is done, move the mushrooms to a pan. Add some oil, some BBQ sauce and sauté for a couple of minutes. At the end, the mixture will thicken a bit and will start to smell very pleasant. Serve it to friends and family and get compliments for your cooking.
However, cooking mushrooms is not just limited to these recipes. You can always improvise and make up as you go, and you will surely end up on something great. Don’t be too disheartened by a first couple times. You need not play it safe with mushrooms and they will surely not disappoint in the end. Have fun cooking!