By Cat, March 2015 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Processed foods often include a troublesome additive to make them more flavorful: MSG (monosodium glutamate). I have a strong sensitivity to MSG (intense abdominal pain, similar to that suffered by those with Celiac), so I avoid it at all costs. But even if you don’t have such a strong reaction to MSG, it is not good for you. It is an excitotoxin – overstimulates our nervous system – and its effect is cumulative.
While all fungi produce (and contain) glutamate, if you eat the mushrooms as a whole food, they provide the flavor-enhancement of MSG without the harm. This is especially useful for adding to ground meat (as for meatballs, burgers, or a meat sauce) to cut cost without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.
According to Dr. Mercola (1), “By adding a “mushroom base” to burgers, meat sauce, and more, you can cut the meat in your recipes by half or more, without sacrificing flavor and heartiness. This will certainly shave some dollars off your food budget and, at the same time, will add valuable nutrition to your meals.”
Shiitake mushrooms are especially rich in the umami (meat-like) flavor, but any mushrooms can be used. However, the umami flavor is not the only reason to include mushrooms in your diet; thy are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, and minerals, and are also excellent sources of antioxidants (1).
Roasted Mushroom Base
(Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
This great recipe idea is adapted from Mercola (1). If using dried mushrooms, remember that they will reconstitute to 6 – 8 times their dry weight (2). For example, 4 oz of dried mushroom will reconstitute to 24 – 32 oz (1½ – 2 lb). Thus you want to use a much larger bowl or saucepan than you might think.
Ingredients & Equipment
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
- 2 lb fresh organic mushrooms, sliced, or quartered (or 4 – 4½ oz dried mushrooms)
- Unrefined sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- large bowl
- two baking sheets
- Reconstitute dried mushrooms (if using): Place mushrooms in a large bowl; measure enough water/stock/wine into saucepan and warm to body temperature (test on your wrist), then pour over mushrooms. Soak for 30 minutes. (Or you can use room temperature water, but you may need to soak longer). Strain, retaining the flavorful liquid for another use (such as a meat sauce). Then pat the reconstituted mushrooms dry.
- If using fresh mushrooms, wash, then slice or quarter them, and pat dry.
- Roast: Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
- In a large bowl, toss mushrooms with oil, salt, and pepper. Spread in an even layer on baking sheets and bake in the middle and lower racks of the oven for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, and switching pans top to bottom halfway through. The mushrooms should be tender and dry when done. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Grind in a grinder or pulse in a food processor fitted with steel blade until broken down into small pieces resembling ground meat. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Storage: The mix will keep for about 4 days in the refrigerator.
- Mercola recipe: articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/03/29/roasted-mushroom-base-recipe.aspx)
- Earthy.com on reconstituting dried mushrooms (earthy.com/Reconstituting-Dried-Mushrooms-W572.aspx