Watch out world, I'm obsessed with mushrooms! No seriously, I can't get enough of them. We've been learning about their medicinal benefits in my classes at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I'm hooked. They are another one of these powerhouse foods that seems to fly under the radar. Not anymore! One bite of these delicious balsamic mushrooms toasts and you'll be joining me on the mushroom bandwagon.
Mushrooms provide a really different kind of nutritional benefit from many of the other foods we eat because they are a fungi instead of a plant. They hold their own in the vitamin and mineral department, but really shine when it comes to immune boosting and cancer fighting. Mushrooms have unique antigen-binding compounds that attach to abnormal cells (cancer) and activate the body's response. These compounds act like red flags to alert the body to dangerous cells. Mushrooms are also angiogenesis inhibitors, meaning they prevent the growth of new blood vessels to tumors, which makes it hard for tumors to grow. There have been lots of research studies to explore the cancer fighting properties of mushrooms. The International Journal of Cancer has published multiple studies finding that women who eat 1/10 of a cup of mushrooms per day (that's not very much!) reduce their risk of breast cancer by 65%. Men see similar results in reduced levels of prostate cancer.
The one caveat to mushrooms is that it's better to cook them. Many mushrooms contain some anti-nutrients, which are neutralized in the cooking process. In my opinion they taste better cooked too, so it's a win-win.
Balsamic Mushroom Toasts Ingredients (serves 2):
4 cups chopped mushrooms - any variety works, but I like using a combination of shitake, portabello, and crimini
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil or ghee
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 pieces of toasted whole wheat bread
Directions (20 minutes):
Begin by mincing your garlic and letting it sit for 10 minutes on the cutting board while you prepare the mushrooms. Remember, the antioxidants in garlic increase if it's left to sit before being cooked.
Wipe the mushrooms down with a damp cloth or paper towel. You should never wash mushrooms under running water because they will become waterlogged and mushy. Slice your clean mushrooms.
Add garlic, mushrooms, and olive oil to a large skillet and begin to saute on medium/high. Add the balsamic vinegar and mix well. Continue sauteing for 10 minutes with periodic stirring. The mushrooms should reduce in size and absorb the balsamic as they cook.
When the mushrooms are nearly finished toast the bread and grate the parmesan. It is really worth it to use the best quality parmesean you can find for this recipe. You're not using much and want it to have a strong flavor.
Scoop the balsamic mushrooms onto the hot toast, top with grated parmesan, and enjoy!
You can also make a double batch of these mushrooms and keep them in the fridge. They can be used to make more toasts, or tossed into salads and pastas. But fair warning, they are good so they might not last long!