Is there any month more classically “fall” than October? There’s a nip in the air and throw blankets are back in season…suddenly you feel like cooking up comfort food.
We’re featuring a series of healthy autumn foods this fall. We’ve covered pears and fish so far. This edition we look at mushrooms and share a recipe for a creamy crockpot soup you’ll love, below.
Why Mushrooms Make Good Fuel
Many people mistakenly assume mushrooms aren’t a high-nutrient food. After all, they don’t have the bright color of so much of the rest of the produce aisle, and it can seem like there’s not much to them.
But when we take a closer look, mushrooms seem like a dream ingredient—sure, they can be used as a garnish for your steak, but they can also stand in for meat, and be served as a vegetable, too. All this, with very few calories, plenty of fiber, and lots of other nutritional value.
If you supplement your protein, 3 grams of protein may not seem like much, but that’s the content in just five button or crimini mushrooms. Use 10 mushrooms and you’ll have the same amount of protein as in an egg. By themselves, mushroom contain no fat, yet they also work well with a light sauté in your favorite healthy oil.
One study found that white button mushrooms may offer plenty of healthful properties to support fitness, including increasing protein production to boost the immune system and help cells protect and repair the body’s tissues—a direct post-workout benefit.
5 Fast Facts on Mushrooms
- While technically they are a fungus, not a vegetable, mushrooms bring a similar level of antioxidant content as brightly colored vegetables. In one study, crimini and portobello mushrooms were found to have about the same antioxidant levels as red peppers.
- Mushrooms grow throughout the year but are most plentiful in fall. While cultivated mushrooms may be available anytime, most wild mushrooms only appear in autumn. One exception is the morel, which only grows in spring.
- It doesn’t make much of a nutritional difference if you choose the standard package of store-bought white mushrooms vs. a pricier wild or dried type. Flavor and texture can vary a bit, but affordable white mushrooms have been found to rank as high or higher with healthful qualities.
- Mushrooms produce vitamin D, just like us, when exposed to sunlight, and are the only source of vitamin D among fruits and vegetables. Look for “sunshine” shrooms, which are intentionally exposed to sun before going to market.
- Mushrooms are also an excellent source of B vitamins and the mineral selenium, which are is important for vegetarians or grain-free folks. B vitamins help the body convert food into fuel (glucose) and selenium optimized thyroid function.
Creamy Slow-Cook Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- ¼ cup diced carrots
- ¼ cup diced celery
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 pounds of fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup of wild rice
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
- Add all vegetables, garlic and sliced mushrooms to the slow cooker, and pour over 1 cup of the stock. Cook on high for 2½ hours. If you’re nearby, scrap down the sides of the cooker after the first hour.
- When the vegetables are very soft, mix in the other cup of vegetable stock and rice. Cook on high for another 2 hours, or until the rice is fully cooked.
- Spoon a ladle of soup into a small bowl with sour cream to temper the mixture. Then slowly stir yogurt or sour cream mixture into soup. Season to taste and top with fresh parsley to serve.