Welcome to Eat Well Every Day

Welcome to Eat Well Every Day!

I've spent years researching nutritional information, food ideas and recipes, because cooking and eating - especially with family & friends - are some of life's great pleasures. And guess what- healthy food doesn't have to be boring! It can be exciting and delicious!


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Friday, September 10, 2010

Mmmarvelous mushrooms!

It’s early Spring here in Australia and so, naturally, we’re enjoying a return to winter with cold grey days, rain and gusty winds. Thank goodness, another winter specialty is hanging around – mushrooms. Especially the big flat meaty ones. These are just the final maturing of the little white cap mushrooms grown commercially, but they have by far he best flavour, rich, dark, strong, and work equally well with beef or lamb in hearty winter stews or as a dish in their own right.

As well as the commonly available button mushrooms in all stages from tightly closed to the wide open ‘flat mushrooms’, mushroom lovers can enjoy portobellos, swiss brown, oyster, shiitake, enoki, chestnut, crimini and other exotic varieties, as well as the highly prized and hugely expensive truffle. Regardless of the variety, all mushrooms contain health giving vitamins and minerals along with their tempting flavours.

What’s good about mushrooms? Antioxidants!

Mushrooms are a surprising source of antioxidants. Eating mushrooms regularly can boost your immune system and these fungi have even been credited by some researchers as helping to fight cancers, thanks to their high antioxidant content. Japanese mushrooms are also believed to help lower blood pressure.

The specific antioxidant in mushrooms is L-ergothioneine, also found in wheatgerm and chicken livers. Mushrooms have about 12 times as much L-ergothioneine as wheat germ and four times more than chicken liver. What’s more, this powerful antioxidant is not destroyed when mushrooms are cooked.

Mushrooms also contain valuable amounts of the mineral selenium. Working together with vitamin E, selenium ensures the proper functioning of numerous vital antioxidant systems throughout the body.

Selenium’s antioxidant activity is helpful in protecting colon cells from cancer-causing toxins, and is also credited with decreasing asthma and arthritis symptoms and in the prevention of heart disease. In addition, selenium is involved in DNA repair, associated with a reduced risk for cancer.

B vitamins, valuable minerals and protein

All mushrooms are an excellent source of riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), as well as the minerals selenium, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, potassium and phosphorus. Mushrooms’ B vitamin content is a boost for vegans who, as a result of a restricted diet compared to vegetarians and omnivores, often struggle getting enough of these vitamins.

Both iron and copper are necessary for the body to synthesis haemoglobin to carry oxygen around in the blood. These two minerals are also quite difficult for non-meat eaters to get enough of, so mushrooms are a valuable addition to vegan or vegetarian meals

While mushrooms are not particularly high in protein at around 3 per cent by weight, they combine well with other animal and vegetable proteins to increase the total protein intake.

Cheap mushrooms as good as expensive varieties

While the World’s 100 Healthiest Foods lists exotic mushrooms such as crimini and shiitake, French food chemists at the Institut National de la Recherche Agrinomique have shown that ordinary commercial button mushrooms have as much or even more anti-oxidant activity as more expensive varieties.

Lead researcher and co-author of the paper published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Jean-Michel Savoie commented: "It can be reasonably assumed that white button mushrooms have as much, if not more, radical scavenging power as mushrooms currently touted for their health benefit. The good thing is button mushrooms are available all year round, are cheap and may be an excellent source of nutrition as part of a healthy diet."

Not only that, you can even buy mushroom kits and grow your own!

mushroom makingsSo, to the recipes. As mushrooms have a place in both omnivore and non-meat eating diets, I’m offering both options – a basic cream of mushroom soup and an easy baked fish and mushrooms.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

60g butter or 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
600 grams (about 20 ounces) of cap mushrooms, sliced
about 5 tablesp of plain (all purpose) flour
1.25 litre (5 cups) vegetable stock (or water plus 2 stock cubes)
1/2 cup light cream* OR 1 egg beaten up in 1/4 cup of milk*
about 5 tablesp of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt & ground black pepper

Heat the butter or oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for three or four minutes or until soft. Then add the chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or so until the mushrooms are tender. Remove 1/4 cup of mushrooms and set aside.

Add the flour to remaining mushrooms and cook, stirring for two minutes. Gradually add the stock, stirring constantly until all the stock has been added and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to simmering and cook the soup, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat, and blend in a food processor or with a stick blender until smooth. Return to the saucepan over low heat. Stir in the cream* and parsley. Heat over medium-low heat until slightly thickened.

Season with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls and serve topped with reserved mushrooms and more parsley, if liked. Serves 4 as a starter.

*Vegans: I’m sorry, you’ll have to work out how to substitute the cream.

Baked Fish and Mushrooms

4 fresh or frozen fish fillets (about 500 grams or a pound), ½ to ¾ inch thick
2 tablesp butter or oil
1 ½ cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 small or one large onion, sliced
1 teasp snipped fresh tarragon or thyme, (or ¼ teaspoon dried tarragon or thyme, crushed)
juice of ½ small lemon

Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into serving-size pieces, if necessary and arrange in a rectangular baking dish, turning under thin edges, so all pieces are approximately the same thickness. Sprinkle with salt.

In a small saucepan melt butter or oil; add the mushrooms, sliced onions, and dried herbs, if using. Cook over medium heat until mushrooms and onions are tender.

Spread mushroom mixture evenly over fish pieces and sprinkle with any fresh herbs. Squeeze over a little lemon juice. Cover with foil or a lid and bake in a hot oven (220C, 450F) for between 12-18 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Sprinkle more lemon juice and more fresh herbs if you have them, and serve with steamed buttered vegetables. Serves 4

Buon Appetito!