You may have enjoyed mushrooms on your steak or omelet. True mushroom lovers may order the occasional stuffed Portabella or Baby Bellas.
But few think to “blend” chopped mushrooms into their meats, rather than only using them as a garnish.
This idea of blending meat and mushrooms was recently popularized by the Healthy Menus R&D Collaborative (HMC) and The Mushroom Council— and for good reason.
We’re here to convince you that meat and mushrooms were meant to be blended, like long-lost soulmates on a holistic, healthy dinner plate. Let’s explore a few reasons why.
1. Blending mushrooms with meat helps to reduce your caloric and fat intake.
Not only are mushrooms low in calories, but mixing them into your favorite meat can help you to reduce your fat intake.
You might be surprised to learn that a serving of White Button, Baby Bella or Portabella mushrooms is only 20 calories.
By blending finely chopping mushrooms into ground beef, you can mimic the texture and volume of your regular patty-sized serving, with fewer calories.
In addition, mushrooms are fat-free. The mass majority of Americans consume more than the daily recommended amount of saturated fat. Blending mushrooms into your meat-based meals is one way to instantly reduce your fat consumption.
2. Mushrooms can be used in lieu of salt for flavor.
For those told to watch the salt intake, you’re in luck. Mushrooms are extremely low in sodium— but they sure don’t taste like it.
Mushrooms instill a natural “umami” taste on the tongue, similar to the way your taste buds react to chewing most meats or potatoes. Unlike other tastes (sweet, salty, sour or bitter), umami is usually described as more savory, brothy or rich— characteristics shared with traditionally salty foods.
In this way, eating mushrooms gives you a similar sense of pleasure and flavor as higher fat, higher calorie foods.
Next time you’re craving something salty, consider this: umami counterbalances sodium and allows up to a 50% salt reduction, without compromising flavor, according to The Mushroom Council.
3. Mushrooms contain a variety of vitamins and antioxidants.
Not all mushrooms contain vitamin D, only those exposed to sunlight or light that closely mimics the sun. This powerful nutrient helps your body to absorb calcium, so when shopping, check the packaging and opt for those grown in light, whenever possible.
Let’s not forget B vitamins, as mushrooms offer a whopping five of the eight types. Each vitamin has its own unique benefits—from B2, which encourages healthy skin, to B9, which helps your metabolism function properly. Learn more about their individual benefits here.
Mushrooms also contain an antioxidant called selenium, which helpsto remove free radicals that are linked to cancer, heart problems, inflammation, premature aging and more. Pair that with mushroom’s two other antioxidant-like helpers, ergothioneine and glutathione, and a hearty serving of fungi may help to reduce aging and stress.
4. Blending mushrooms helps the environment.
According to the Culinary Institute of America, U.S. residents eat an average of three burgers a week. That’s 50 billion burgers a year, eaten by just one country.
You can reduce your environmental impact substantially by simply replacing meat volume with mushrooms. In fact, a study conducted by Harvard University found that by replacing beef with mushrooms in a single five-pound meatloaf recipe, reduced its university dining hall CO2 footprint by 44 pounds!
With all the environmental benefits and added nutritional value, it’s no wonder other institutions— including Yale and the University of Southern California— use mushrooms in their Bolognese sauces, taco fillings and chilies.
Blending Mushrooms Has Never Been Easier
Cleaning and chopping mushrooms can be tedious, not to mention preparing the perfect mix of seasonings. However, blending mushrooms to add to your meals is simple and has great flavor and nutritional payoffs.
Interested to learn more about the nutritional benefits of mushrooms? Download our ebook, Everything You Need to Know About Blended Mushrooms, which dives deep into the science behind what makes these friendly fungi so darn healthy.