Mushrooms are the meat of the vegetarian world. But they are neither meat nor vegetable. They are classified as fungi because of a few specific characteristics, for example, the cell walls are made of a material called chitin. This is why mushrooms are more nutritious when cooked because those chitin cell walls are too tough for us to digest to reach the goodness inside.
Fun fact: The mushroom part that pops out of the ground is actually the fruiting body of the fungus. You’re picking the fruit!
Types of mushrooms that you can eat:
Make sure you only eat mushrooms that have been picked by a professional. There are many mushrooms that contain toxins that they use to protect themselves from being eaten since they can’t run away from predators. Sometimes these poisonous mushrooms look very similar to safe mushrooms, which can prove fatal if you eat them. There have been recent reports of families being poisoned after they picked mushrooms in Australia that look almost exactly like the safe mushrooms from other countries. It is vital that you don’t go and harvest your own mushrooms without the proper knowledge.
There are so many types of good eating mushrooms all around the world. They all have different flavours so I encourage you to explore the exotic mushrooms at your grocery store. Some really delicious mushrooms you may have heard of are:
Enoki or enokitake
Vitamins, minerals and other benefits of eating cooked mushrooms:
Vitamins B1, B2, B12, C, D, E, folate,
Trace minerals such as potassium,
Low calorie source of fibre and protein,
Antioxidants, especially when grilled or microwaved.
Best ways to cook mushrooms:
Grill or microwave mushrooms to get the most nutritional value out of them. These methods leave the antioxidant activity in tact (Source). You can also fry, boil or bake mushrooms to enjoy the beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Fun fact: The largest organism in the world is a fungus that spans a few km across in a forest in Oregon, USA.
What are your favourite ways to prepare mushrooms? Do you stuff them? Fry them with butter and garlic? Those are my favourite ways to enjoy mushrooms.