DENVER — Mushrooms are one of the most underutilized foods, yet they are so versatile. They can be used instead of meat in chilis, pasta sauce, inside omelets, to top salads, made into soup, or a side vegetable.

Mushrooms have a lot to offer nutritionally, medicinally, and flavor-wise too!

Why are mushrooms beneficial for us nutritionally?

Mushrooms have very few calories and fat, but are high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, as well as minerals like potassium and copper, B vitamins, and folate.

One great way to use mushrooms is instead of crab meat like in something mushroom crab cakes.

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Mushrooms have protein?

Yes, one cup of mushrooms has about two grams of protein. And, they cook down to a very, small, manageable amount to eat, so it’s easy to consume that amount.

Mushrooms like Portobello can be used to substitute meat in burgers.

How can mushrooms be used medicinally?

Mushrooms contain compounds that have pharmacological effects like being anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, protect against high cholesterol and tumor formation, and regulate blood sugar.

Mushroom supplements can be used to enhance health even if you don’t love the flavor, but remember a supplement will never be able to correct the effects of poor diet.

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How can mushrooms be used to enhance flavor?

Mushrooms have a taste that is known as umami. Umami best translates as “savory” and is what makes food taste good and promotes a sense of satiety.

Some mushrooms come dried and need to be rehydrated before being used or they can be ground and used as a crust on meat or fish, or they can be used as a flavor enhancer similar to the way you would use herbs and spices.

Regina Topelson, MBA, RDN, CLT is the owner of Life Well-Lived, a Denver-based nutrition practice. She is a passionate wellness advocate and public speaker. Find more information at www.lifewell-lived.com.

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