Immune Boosting Anyone?
Mushrooms for your immune system? Yes!
I LOVE mushrooms so immune system boosting is a great excuse to add even more of them to my diet.
But not all mushrooms are created equal. These four–shitake, maitake, oyster, and enoki–are considered super foods when it comes to immune boosters. And with that crazy coronovirus spreading, I’m doing my best to add as many mushrooms as I can find when planning my meals.
This Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Quesadilla recipe may be the perfect way to mix and match mushrooms for a huge immune-boosting punch. Even better is how great these taste.
What’s so special about mushrooms?
First of all, all edible mushrooms are healthy. And some (shitake, oyster, maitake, and enoki) are healthier than some of the others.
But don’t rule out those white button or portabello (cremini) mushrooms you find in your local grocery store. They can do a great job with immune boosting, too.
I’m highlighting some of the “healthiest” mushrooms (listed in easiest-to-find order).
- shiitake–these mushrooms may have anti-viral and immune-enhancing properties. Some studies show they may reduce blood sugar and blood pressure.
- oyster–named for their similarity in shape to oysters. Studies show these mushrooms are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Oyster mushrooms may lower cholesterol levels and block cancer growth.
- maitake–considered to be the “king of mushrooms” mostly due to their large size. And boy do they pack a immune-boosting punch. They have anti-viral, anti-cancer and immune-enhancing properties. Some studies show they make help control blood sugar and blood pressure. Win win!
- enoki–these little mushrooms also have anti-viral and anti-tumor properties. And they may just help lower your cholesterol.
What about basic grocery store varieties?
Don’t count out those mushrooms typically found at the grocery store.
Portabello (cremini) and white button mushrooms are inexpensive and easy to find. So add them to your diet. No excuses!
Portabellos (cremini) are “meaty” mushrooms that are high in antioxidants along with anti-viral and immune-enhancing properties. They are a good source of B vitamins.
As an FYI–cremini and portabellos are the same mushrooms. Portabellos are the more “mature” version of a cremini. Their taste is similar.
White button mushrooms—these mushrooms are not only immune-system boosting, but also good source of vitamin D.
Should you eat them raw?
The experts say…No!
Raw mushrooms contain toxins that are destroyed when cooked thoroughly. Toxins in mushrooms are small in amount, but why take chances.
Can you wash mushrooms?
Most culinary experts say no. Wiping mushrooms with a cloth or paper towel is the preferred cleaning method. This prevents the mushrooms from becoming soggy when cooking them.
I, on the other hand, wash my mushrooms. Not doing so makes me nervous. Since dishes I use don’t require a crispy texture, I carefully wash them with as little water as possible. It saves time and just seems cleaner. But do whatever makes you comfortable.
What about “magic” mushrooms?
Timothy Leary, one of the greatest psychedelic drug advocates ever, popularized magic mushrooms (along with LSD) in the the 1960s. Because magic mushrooms and other mind-altering drugs became popular with the “hippie” counter culture movement, they were outlawed and most medical research stopped.
But in recent years, “microdosing” research with hallucinogenic psilocybin found in “magic” mushrooms has become popular again.
Studies are showing that small doses of psilocybin can decrease depression and anxiety and aid in making folks more productive and creative.
Psilocybin research was even highlighted in an episode of 60 minutes. So it turns out Mr. Leary may have been onto something after all.
Mushrooms may boost your mood AND your immune system!
Mushroom powders are just dried mushrooms pulverized into a powder.
Cordyceps, Reishi, Lion’s Mane and Turkey Tail are just a few super healthy mushrooms that cannot easily be found at the grocery store. So I find powdered versions a great way to add even more mushrooms to my diet.
I use powdered mushrooms mostly in soups and stews. But you can add them to smoothies and many other dishes. I’ve been know to put a smidge in my coffee. Be creative and stay healthy!
Other recipes using mushrooms
Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Quesadilla
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions sliced
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large garlic cloves minced
- 4 large portobello or mushrooms of choice thinly sliced
- 3 thyme sprigs (use just the leaves)
- 8 flour tortillas
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar (or cheese of choice)
- 1 cup spinach/arugula mix rough chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- In a medium skillet, HEAT 1 Tablespoon oil over low heat. ADD onion. STIR and COOK until soft, approximately 10-12 minutes.
- ADD sugar and balsamic vinegar. COOK for another 5 minutes or until the onion is caramelized. REMOVE onions from the pan onto a plate/bowl and SET ASIDE.
- HEAT butter and remaining oil in the skillet over medium heat. ADD garlic, mushroom and thyme. STIR and COOK for 3-4 minutes until mushrooms are soft. REMOVE pan from the heat and SET ASIDE.
- HEAT a grill or grill pan over high heat. TOAST the tortillas, one at a time, until slightly charred.
- PLACE 4 tortillas, toasted-side up, on a cutting board.
- TOP each tortilla with ¼ each of the caramelized onion, mushroom mixture, grated cheese arugula/spinach. TOP with the remaining tortillas, toasted side down, to created quesadilla.
- HEAT the grill pan back to high heat. ADD each quesadilla to the heated grill pan. COOK for 2-3 minutes or until toasted on one side.
- TURN quesadilla over and COOK for another 1-2 minutes until the tortilla is toasted and cheese is melted.
- To make the lemon sour cream:
- COMBINE the sour cream and lemon juice in a small bowl. MIX to combine thoroughly. SERVE with quesadillas.