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Make room for mushrooms

It's mushroom season and there are many tasty varieties to choose from.

In the springtime some of us plant gardens, while others forage the woods for Morel mushrooms. Morels are a seasonal treat that temporarily turn most Midwesterner into mushroom fans. There are plenty of mushrooms and plenty of reasons to keep the mushroom momentum going all year long.

For those of us who want to try a new variety, but lack the foraging expertise; Portobello, Morel and Shiitake mushrooms can be found at your local supermarket without too much effort.

Portobello mushrooms have a meaty texture and flavor that make it a good for grilling and adding to risottos, soups and casseroles. Morels are a seasonal treat that most people simply sauté in oil or butter. Shiitake mushrooms are common in Asian cooking and are available dried and sometimes fresh. They also have a rich savory flavor and are great sautéed and added to soups, sauces and pasta; just remember to remove the woody stems.

The savory, umami flavor that we typically get from meats comes from naturally occurring glutamates Mushrooms are one of the few vegetables that contain glutamate. For this reason mushrooms make excellent gravies and a grilled portabella cap can be a great substitute for a burger. Add mushrooms to vegetarian protein sources, such as tofu or lentils to add a rich savory flavor. Mushrooms can also be substituted for part of the beef in a recipe to cut back on calories and saturated fat and retain moisture and flavor.

Mushrooms may have a meaty flavor, but 1 cup of sliced cooked mushrooms contains only 4 g of protein. If you have mushrooms as an entree be sure to include another protein source such as beans, nuts or cheese or have a good source of protein at a difference meal that day.

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