You’re health-conscious. You think about what you put into your body, and you want to find ways to improve your diet. That’s great! We hear a lot about kale and other green vegetables. But the health benefits of mushrooms, in particular, will likely surprise you. Here are five medicinal mushrooms you can cook with.
These aren’t rare, obscure mushrooms that no one has ever heard of. These are kinds that you can find and cook with all the time. When you learn to cook with them, you will truly master the art of delicious, health-conscious cooking.
Shiitakes are one of the truly classic delicious mushrooms. They have been a staple in Japanese cuisine for eons. Perhaps the best thing about these tasty fungi is their clearly defined health benefits.
Above all else, Shiitake mushrooms help with weight loss. Shiitakes contain components with hypolipidaemic (fat reducing) effects.
In addition to weight loss, Shiitakes can assist with blood flow, helping those with blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues. They contain sterol compounds that interfere with the liver’s cholesterol production. Phytonutrients in shiitakes also help to prevent plaque buildup on blood vessel walls.
If you want to enjoy all of these health benefits in a delicious meal, you have to learn to cook with Shiitakes. The good news is that they’re tasty on their own. They’re rich in umami (a Japanese word with a meaning similar to ‘savoriness’). That means they go great with meat entrees, but they also work in soups and stir-fries. You can feel free to get creative with your Shiitakes. They’re hard to ruin.
Lion’s Mane isn’t quite as famous as the Shiitake in terms of flavor, but it’s still a good cooking mushroom, and its health benefits are off the charts. It’s known as a brain mushroom, and clinical studies show that it helps dementia patients with cognitive recovery. That’s a big deal.
Outside of the brain, studies show that Lion’s Mane helps to combat cancer, shrink tumors, and provide general health benefits. It’s bordering on being a miracle mushroom, and you can get all of those health benefits from something enjoyable to eat.
Lion’s Mane is known for being watery. You can eat it like Shiitakes, but most people agree that Lion’s Mane tastes the best crunchy. To get it to this state, you want to cook it slowly on low heat. You’ll get rid of the excess water, and the crispy mushroom you will get is delectable.
Many chefs consider morels to be one of the ultimate delicacies. They’re not easy to find, but when you do find some, it’s a cause for celebration. But before you cook your morels, you might want to know how this impressive mushroom is going to help your body.
For starters, Morels are rich in calcium. That makes them great for issues of calcium deficiency and bone health. On top of calcium, Morels are packed with vitamins and minerals — B12 and copper in particular.
Cooking with Morels is easy. These mushrooms have a rich, meaty flavor, but aren’t overly thick or watery. You can saute your morels with oil, butter, win and/or cream, and eat them alone or add them to another dish. We share a simple recipe here. Once you’ve had a meal with Morels, you’ll crave more. The good news is that you can indulge those cravings to the benefit of your health.
Fresh Morels are difficult to find, but dried Morels are carried by many grocers, and are a perfectly fine option. Simply soak them in hot water for a few minutes and then sautee them or add to a stir-fry or soup.
Naturealm Morel Mushrooms Harvested in Canada — Dried Morels are expensive but delicious, and you won’t need to spend a lot of time cleaning them like you would Morels that you harvest yourself.
Cordyceps are quite different from the other mushrooms on the list. To begin with, they are much harder to find than others. That’s because they grow on the backs of a specific caterpillar that is found only on the Tibetan plateau. As you can guess, this makes them expensive, though there are farm-raised varieties that don’t cost quite as much.
You might decide the price is worth it. Cordyceps can improve athletic performance and stamina (and by the same token, libido). They also have dementia-fighting properties that are great for your brain. On top of all of that, research indicates that they may fight cancer and tumors.
However, Cordyceps is not exactly a cooking mushroom. You can put Cordyceps mushroom power in a bunch of dishes, but you’re not going to work with the whole mushroom. Instead, it’s easier (and much cheaper) to get Cordyceps extract. It works well as a seasoning in soups and stir-fries, and you get the full benefits for your health.
Here are a couple of Cordyceps extracts that I like to use.
Life Cykel Cordyceps Mushroom Extract with Kakadu Plum. This is the liquid Cordyceps extract that I use. It’s good in stir-fries and other savory dishes. I also like to add a few drops to my afternoon coffee. It’s a bit pricy, but very high quality.
Real Mushrooms Certified Organic Cordyceps Mushroom Powder is a high-quality option that doesn’t cost too much. You can add it to just about any soup or stir-fry. It’s good added to any mushroom dish, as well.
Sometimes considered the steak mushroom, Portabellas are something that everyone can enjoy eating. That they are also good for you is almost too much. Portabellas are packed with vitamins and minerals. They’re great for overall health, and they can supplement your diet. Supplement your vitamins with a daily dose of Portabellas.
Portabellas are a classic addition to red meat dishes, but that’s not their limit. They saute very well, and you can add them to soups, stir-fries, and casseroles. Just because those are the staples doesn’t mean you should stop there. Add your Portabellas to everything, and have fun experimenting. It will be a delicious, healthy exercise.
Edible mushrooms, in general, will be good for you. They’re tasty, low in calories and rich in nutrients. That said, these five medicinal mushrooms you can cook with are the best ones in our opinion. If you can work them into your regular meal routines, your body will be happy for the boost. Plus, they are super tasty mushrooms.
Here are a couple of book suggestions if you would like to delve into cooking with medicinal mushrooms in further detail.
Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health — If you’re interested in the medicinal and healing properties of mushrooms, you will find this cookbook contains a wealth of information.
Cooking with Healing Mushrooms: 150 Delicious Adaptogen-Rich Recipes — Another highly informative book with some great recipes. The author also covers the health benefits of common edible mushrooms like white button mushrooms.
For a more detailed overview about cooking mushrooms, see our article The Essential Guide to Cooking Mushrooms.
And see our main recipe page for tons of other mushroom recipe ideas.
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