The humble mushroom packs a mighty health punch

Roasted Brussel Sprout Stuffed Portabellas with Barley, Lemon & Herbs
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UMAMI-RICH mushrooms are an excellent nutrient-rich food that is low in calories, cholesterol and sodium, and they provide plenty of fibre and flavour. But the big news is that they contain robust amounts of antioxidants, selenium, riboflavin, Vitamin D and other healthful substances that protect the immune system.

Common dietary advice for diabetics is to eat the least processed, low GI foods. That is exactly what fresh mushrooms offer: an angelically low GI that will not raise blood glucose levels, plus will assist in keeping glucose levels low. Mushrooms provide potassium while being virtually sodium (salt) free so they also keep blood pressure normal.

A high salt intake is a risk factor for increased blood pressure and possible heart disease, making it essential to keep your daily salt intake low. Mushrooms offer a brilliant taste alternative to salt because of their unique flavour known as umami. Their natural glutamates give them a delicious, meaty flavour that makes them a favourite with both meat eaters and vegetarians.

In addition to their flavour punch, mushrooms contain only 14mg of sodium per 100g making them the perfect flavour-packed ingredient for a low salt diet.

Mushrooms are rich in anti-oxidants which aid the immune system and they also contain selenium in quantities much higher than any other plant food. Selenium has been found have an anti-cancer affect on prostate cancer particularly. These elements work together to protect the body against cancer by getting rid of free radicals and defending the body against invading organisms. Mushrooms are a low energy dense food that can help lower kilojoule intake to help prevent obesity which is a risk for breast cancer.

Information and recipes courtesy of the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association.

Coconut Creamed Greens & Mushrooms Serves 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 large onion, finely diced 
  • Pinch ground nutmeg 
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional but gives a wonderful cheesy flavour to vegan dishes) 
  • 1 tin / 400ml unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 large bunch Swiss chard or kale 
  • 250g portabellini mushrooms, sliced 
  • ½ cup fresh pomegranate rubies 
  • ½ cup coconut flakes, lightly toasted 
  • Olive oil or coconut oil 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

Method 

  • In a large frying pan, heat a little olive or coconut oil. 
  • Add the onion and sauté until soft. 
  • Season well and add the nutmeg and nutritional yeast. 
  • Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. 
  • Wash and dry the Swiss chard. 
  • Roll up the leaves and roughly chop them. 
  • Once the coconut milk has reduced slightly, add the chard. 
  • Simmer for a few minutes until the chard softens. 
  • In a separate frying pan heat a fresh drizzle of olive or coconut oil. 
  • Pan fry the mushrooms until golden brown and just tender. 
  • Season lightly. 
  • Spoon the greens and golden mushrooms into a serving dish. 
  • Top with the pomegranate rubies, toasted coconut flakes and a fresh crack of black pepper. 

Mushroom Meatball Subs

Serves 6

Ingredients

For the mushroom meatballs:

  • 500g portabellini mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained, rinsed and lightly mashed
  • 1 XL egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 x 400g tin crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the buns:

  • 6 brioche style hotdog buns
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted

For garnish:

  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180˚C.

For the meatballs:

  • Drizzle olive oil into a large frying pan, sauté the onions and garlic until fragrant. 
  • Add the finely chopped mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have released all their liquid and begin to brown. Set aside and allow to cool.
  • In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well. 
  • Once the mushrooms have cooled add them to the bowl and mix. 
  • Roll the mixture into golf ball sized balls. 
  • Spread out evenly onto a metal baking tray and bake for 20 min at 180˚C.

For the sauce:

  • In a small saucepan sauté the garlic in olive oil until fragrant.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, basil leaves and oregano. Simmer until thick, stirring occasionally.
  • Once the sauce has thickened remove the basil leaves and season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes. 

For the buns:

  • Cut each bun in half and brush the insides with melted butter.
  • Toast the buns, cut side down, in a dry pan over medium heat until golden brown. 

To assemble the subs:

Begin by spreading the sauce over the bottoms of each bun.

  • Add the meatballs on top and liberally grate parmesan cheese over them (best to do this while the meatballs are still hot so the cheese will slightly melt and stick to the meatballs). 
  • Top with fresh basil leaves, the top bun and enjoy! 

Pan Seared Fish on Lemony Mushrooms & Fennel

Serves 2 

Ingredients

  • 2 x 200g sustainable fish fillets, skin on
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, thinly sliced and reserve a handful of fennel fronds 
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 mild green chilli, finely diced
  • 250g mixed cultivated mushrooms, sliced 
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice 
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

Method

  • In a large cast iron pan heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. 
  • Add the sliced fennel and onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute. 
  • Remove from the heat and set aside. 
  • Add a fresh drizzle of olive oil to the pan and cook the mushrooms until golden brown and tender. Season lightly and set aside with the fennel. 
  • Sprinkle some salt over each fillet of fish and rub with olive oil. 
  • Place the fillets into the pan skin side down. 
  • Cook the fillets most of the way through on the skin and flip for a final minute to cook the other side. 
  • Plate the fish and allow to rest for a minute while you reheat all the vegetables together in the pan with the tablespoon of butter. Add the parsley, lemon zest and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. 
  • Plate the mushroom and fennel medley alongside the fish and serve. 
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