Fancy Salad Combinations

So I was going to post a blueberry banana bread recipe today.

I had a plan.

But my camera decided it didn’t like me so it’s off being repaired and I am without enough photos to share a recipe with you.

But that’s okay!

Because it’s National Salad Week so I put together this cool little table to inspire you to get creative and make some tasty salads this week.

Fancy Salad Combinations

Fancy Salad Combinations from ProjectEatMe

Get the Printable Version Here

You can pick one ingredient from each category, or you can choose multiple from some categories and none from the others. There are no real rules other than that your salad should have more veggies than other ingredients and you should try to include some protein, crunch, or fat.

Here are a few combos you could try:

  • Spinach, basil, red bell pepper, blueberries, hazelnuts, goat cheese
  • Field greens, cucumber, capers, oregano, red and yellow bell peppers, kalamata olives, tomato, feta, salsa, cheddar cheese
  • Mixed greens, pear, dried cherries, chicken, walnuts, gorgonzola.
Tell me: What’s your favorite salad ingredient or salad combo?
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Mushroom Swapability

Hi!

I had big plans to cook up some delicious meatballs and share the recipe with you today.

But that’s not happening and if you want to blame something, blame chocolate.

That’s right. There is a local chocolate factory and shop that recently opened a coffee counter. I thought it would be a good idea to go check it out and do some work there this morning. Well, I can say that the coffee was delicious, but the aroma of chocolate was a little too distracting for me which means I got behind on my work today.

So, long story short: No meatballs.

But I will share a cool concept with you called swapability, also known as blendability. You won’t find these words in the dictionary so let me explain:

What is swapability?

Well, swapability or blendability is a way to add a serving of vegetables to your meal while cutting calories.

This info card from the Mushroom Council explains it pretty well.

Did you look at the info card? I’m telling you, there’s good info there.

Anyway, you can basically take any ground meat based recipe (meatloaf, meatballs, chili, tourtiere (meat pie), pasta sauce, etc.) and swap out some of the ground meat for chopped mushrooms. Doing this allows the flavor to stay the same, doesn’t alter the texture too much, saves you a bit of money, and drastically cuts fat and calories while adding some of the awesome nutrients that come with mushrooms.

Here is a Pinterest Board with all sorts of recipes that already have instructions for blending in mushrooms.

Swapability Pinterest Board

But you can take any recipe you love and do your own swapping and blending. Just cut out half or three quarters of the ground meat and replace it with chopped mushrooms!

Have you ever added mushrooms to your ground meat dishes to healthify them?

Buying, Storing, and Cooking Mushrooms

Hi friends!

Have you ever gone for a hike and seen funky giant red and white polka-dotted mushrooms in the forest?

Don’t eat them!

Some people like to forage for wild mushrooms but personally I like to stick to the grocery store or farmers market kind.

Mushrooms

So here’s a little info on how to buy, store, and prepare mushrooms.

What are the best mushrooms to buy?

There are many fun varieties to choose from, depending on where you shop. But the most commonly available are white button, brown button (aka baby-bella or crimini), and portabella so I’m going to focus on those.

Fresh mushrooms are available in the produce section throughout the year and may be found in bulk or in cello-wrapped trays. They are typically available whole or sliced and some may be triple-rinsed and ready-to-eat.

Look for mushrooms that are firm, plump, and uniform in color with a slightly shiny surface.

Avoid those that are wrinkled or have wet slimy spots but don’t worry about particles of peat moss on some of the mushrooms – it is completely harmless and can be brushed off.

Dried mushrooms are also an option available year-round – ask your store if you need help locating them.

How should I store my mushrooms?

Fresh mushrooms should be stored in the refrigerator in a paper bag. If you buy them packaged, leave them as is but transfer them to a paper bag once opened so they last longer.

They are best if used within a few days of purchase but can be kept for a week or longer.

Finally, do not wash mushrooms until you are ready to use them.

If you aren’t able to use your mushrooms within a week, sauté and freeze them for later use. Do not try to freeze fresh raw mushrooms because they will be gross.

Dried mushrooms should be stored in a tightly sealed container in either the refrigerator or freezer for up to one year.

How do I prepare mushrooms?

When you are ready to use your mushrooms, wipe with a damp cloth or mushroom brush or rinse in cold water and pat dry with a clean towel. Do not soak them because they can easily absorb water and become soggy.

You can use whole mushrooms, slices, or just the cap. If using the whole mushroom, you may want to cut off the very bottom of the stem if it is spongy, dry, or discolored. To remove the stem, wiggle and gently break it off with your hand. Wiggling your bum also helps.

You can choose to eat your mushrooms raw or cook them any number of ways. Try sautéing them, stuffing and baking them, or adding them to sauces or casseroles.

What can I make with my mushrooms?

When I asked friends to share their favorite mushroom recipes, here’s some of what I heard:

Here’s a recipe for mushrooms en papillote from Williams-Sonoma – I don’t think I’ve ever had mushrooms this way but it sounds delicious!

Check out some of her other slow-cooker adventures on her blog, What A Crock (Pot).

Can’t argue with that!

I’m glad we’re all on the same page here!

For more ideas, check out my Mushroom Recipes board on Pinterest.

Mushroom Recipes Pinterest board

I’d love to hear any great mushroom ideas you have too!

Mushrooms

I called Husbandpants a mushroom yesterday and he didn’t like it. I don’t know why because I love mushrooms!

Mushrooms

I love pretty much all kinds of mushrooms but I usually only keep white button ones or brown button ones on hand. And in the summer, I like to grill portabellas.

But guess what?

These are all actually the same species, with the white ones being the youngest and the portabellas being the most mature. As they age, they get larger, browner, and more flavorful. The brown buttons are sometime called baby-bellas or portabellinis (because they are just pre-mature portabellas) and both the white and brown buttons are also known as crimini.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way…

What food group do mushrooms belong to?

This could be a fun question to consider.

Technically they are a fungus (neither plant nor animal) but probably closer to animals than to plants.

The function they serve is somewhat like that of a fruit because they are used for reproduction.

But the macronutrients they provide (mostly water and fiber) is most like vegetables.

So the conclusion is that nutritionally speaking, they are a vegetable and fall more specifically under the Other Vegetables category.

The amount of vegetables you need to eat depends on age, sex, and level of physical activity but most adults should be eating about 2 to 3 cups per day. Why not include 1/2 cup of mushrooms?

Mushroom nutrition facts

These are the nutrition facts specifically for raw, white button mushrooms, but the other varieties we talked about are similar.

Mushroom Nutrition Facts

Like most vegetables, mushrooms are naturally low in calories, sodium, sugar, and fat, and are cholesterol-free.

Mushrooms are fantastic sources of several key nutrients and offer an outstanding variety of  health-promoting phytonutrients. Mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B2, pantothenic acid, and niacin; a very good source of fvitamin B1, vitamin B6, zinc, and manganese; and a good source of folate and protein.

AND! Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable with vitamin D. When exposed to sunlight, mushrooms are able to produce vitamin D.

Plain English Summary: Mushrooms are neither plant nor animal but they sure are packed with nutrition!

Great, but is fungus actually good for your health?

What are the health benefits of mushrooms?

Immune function: Researchers found that mice that eat white button mushrooms may experience an added benefit due to enhancing or boosting immune function when exposed to disease causing irritants.

Heart-health: Research on lab animals with high total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides has shown that daily intake of crimini mushrooms can lower levels of all of these blood fats.

Cancer prevention: Extracts from white and brown button and portabella mushrooms may have properties that are related to attacking breast cancer cells, leading to cancer cell death.

Arthritis: Researchers found that arthritic mice had reduced negative health effects when they consumed white button or portabella mushrooms.

What’s your favorite way to eat mushrooms? Leave a comment or tweet at me and I’ll share your idea or recipe in a post later this month!

Health Benefits of Black Beans

Black beans are nutritional powerhouses so I thought I should share some of the health benefits they boast. Many of their health benefits are due to their magical protein-fiber combination along with other nutritional components.

Black bean can

What are the health benefits of black beans?

Longevity: One study found that with every 20g increase in daily legume intake produced a 7-8% reduction in risk of death.

Reduced cancer risk: Three decades of epidemiological data connect beans with reduced risk of various cancers. Also, preliminary animal and laboratory studies have shown black beans to inhibit the development of certain types of cancers, especially colon cancer.

Heart health: Black beans are high in soluble fiber, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, magnesium, potassium, copper, and folate – all of which are known to be beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Weight management: Data from a large study showed that men and women who regularly consumed beans had a 22% lower risk of obesity compared to non-bean eaters.

Blood sugar control: Beans are digested slowly and the body absorbs their energy gradually so blood sugars levels rise slowly.

Flatulence: Although about half of the population experiences an increase in gas when they eat beans, this disconcerting side-effect usually goes away after 2-4 weeks of regular consumption.

Are you ready to give black beans a try yet?

Yay!

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