Elevate Taco Tuesday in a fun and nutritious way with these mushroom facts

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FEATURE — Mushrooms are a fascinating food with a rich history, diverse flavors and a wide range of nutritional benefits. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some fun facts about mushrooms that you may not have known before. Then we will share a delicious recipe using mushrooms to take your Taco Tuesday to the next level!

10 mushroom fun facts

Mushrooms are not plants, but rather belong to their own distinct group of organisms known as fungi. They have no roots, leaves or seeds and rely on other organisms for nutrients.

There are over 14,000 known species of mushrooms, and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. From the familiar white button mushroom to the exotic shiitake and portobello varieties, there’s a mushroom to suit every taste.

Mushrooms are a great source of nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin D and minerals such as selenium and copper. They’re also low in calories and fat, making them a healthy addition to any diet.

Mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, and recent research suggests that they may have a variety of health benefits. Some studies have shown that certain compounds in mushrooms may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and immune-boosting properties.

Stock photo courtesy of USU Extension Create Better Health blog, St. George News

The largest living organism on Earth is a mushroom. The honey fungus, which grows in the Blue Mountains of Oregon, covers an area of over 2,200 acres and is estimated to be over 2,400 years old.

Mushrooms have played an important role in many cultures throughout history. In ancient Egypt, they were considered a food of the gods and were only consumed by royalty. In China, mushrooms have been used for both food and medicine for thousands of years.

Some mushrooms have psychedelic properties and are used recreationally for their hallucinogenic effects. However, these mushrooms are illegal in many parts of the world and can be dangerous if consumed improperly.

Mushrooms can grow incredibly fast. Under the right conditions, some species can grow to full size in just a few days.

Mushrooms have a unique flavor profile that can range from earthy and savory to sweet and nutty. This makes them a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes, from soups and stews to pastas and pizzas.

Mushrooms are a sustainable food source that can be grown using minimal resources. They’re also a great way to reduce food waste, as they can be grown on organic waste materials such as straw and sawdust.

FAQ about mushrooms

Are mushrooms vegetables?

While mushrooms are classified as a vegetable, mushrooms are not technically vegetables, as they belong to the fungi kingdom. While they are often grouped with vegetables in the culinary world and can be used in similar ways, they have some unique characteristics that set them apart from traditional vegetables.

Stock photo courtesy of USU Extension Create Better Health blog, St. George News

One key difference is that mushrooms do not have leaves, roots or seeds like most vegetables do. Instead, they reproduce through spores and grow from mycelium, which is a web-like network of cells that exists underground or within the mushroom itself.

That being said, mushrooms are still a nutritious and versatile ingredient that can be a valuable part of a healthy diet. They are low in calories, high in fiber and rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, potassium and selenium.

Are mushrooms vegan?

Yes, mushrooms are generally considered vegan as they are a plant-based food and do not come from animals. While they are not technically vegetables, they are still suitable for vegan diets as they do not contain any animal products or byproducts.

It’s worth noting that some varieties of mushrooms, such as portobello mushrooms, can have a meaty texture and flavor that may be appealing to vegans looking for a plant-based alternative to meat. Overall, mushrooms are a delicious and healthy addition to any vegan diet.

What is a good alternative to mushrooms?

If you really can’t stand mushrooms, or you are allergic, there are several options depending on what you are looking for in terms of taste, texture and nutrition. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Eggplant: Eggplant has a similar texture to mushrooms when cooked and can be a good substitute in dishes such as stir fries, curries and stews.
  • Tofu: Tofu is a versatile plant-based protein that can be used in a variety of dishes as a substitute for meat or mushrooms. It can be marinated and cooked in different ways to achieve a desired texture and flavor.
  • Zucchini: Zucchini is a mild-tasting vegetable that can be sliced or diced and used in place of mushrooms in many recipes, such as casseroles, pasta dishes and omelets.
  • Cauliflower: Cauliflower can be used as a substitute for mushrooms in dishes such as soups, stews and stir fries. When cooked, it has a tender texture and can absorb flavors well.

These are just a few examples of alternatives to mushrooms, but there are many other options available depending on your preferences and dietary needs.

Recipe: beef and mushroom tacos with lime crema

If you’re looking to mix up your Taco Tuesday routine, these beef and mushroom tacos with cilantro lime crema are a delicious and healthy option. Made with ground beef, fresh mushrooms and a flavorful spice blend, this recipe offers a satisfying and nutritious twist on the classic taco.

Topped with a zesty lime crema made with low-fat sour cream and fresh cilantro, these tacos are sure to be a hit with your family and friends. Download the recipe here.

This article originally appeared on May 12, 2023, on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.

Copyright © CreateBetterHealth.org, all rights reserved.

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