Why are mushrooms called vegetable meat? 8 benefits

Mushrooms are often called the "vegetable meat" due to their meaty texture and their ability to provide an umami, meat-like flavor profile. Although fungi are neither plants nor animals, they share some nutritional characteristics with both kingdoms. Here are some reasons why they are considered beneficial for health:

Low in calories and fat: They are low in calories and fat, making them a healthy option for those looking to control their caloric intake or reduce the amount of saturated fat in their diet.

Good source of protein: Although they are not as rich in protein as meat, they are a decent source of this macronutrient. Additionally, they contain essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own.

Rich in nutrients: They are a good source of nutrients such as B vitamins (especially B2 and B3), folic acid, iron, zinc and potassium.

High fiber content: Fiber is essential for good digestive health. They contain fiber that can help maintain a healthy and regular digestive system.

Antioxidants: Some mushrooms contain antioxidants, such as selenium and ergothioneine, which can help protect the body's cells from oxidative damage.

They strengthen the immune system: It has been shown that certain compounds present in mushrooms, such as beta-glucans, can help stimulate the immune system and improve the body's response to infections.

Low in cholesterol: Not contain cholesterol and they can be an excellent alternative in diets designed to reduce the consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol.

Culinary Versatility: They are very versatile in the kitchen and can be used in various ways, whether in savory dishes or as a complement to salads, soups and stews.

How to use mushrooms in cooking

Mushrooms are versatile ingredients in the kitchen and can be used in a variety of dishes to add flavor, texture, and nutritional value. Here are some common ways to use them in the kitchen:

  1. Sautéed or stir-fried with garlic:
    • Cut them into slices or pieces.
    • Heat a frying pan with olive oil or butter.
    • Add the mushrooms and sauté over medium-high heat until golden brown.
    • Add garlic, fresh herbs or spices for more flavor.
  2. Soups and stews:
    • Add them to soups and stews to improve flavor and texture.
    • You can use them whole or cut into pieces, depending on your preferences.
  3. Fillings:
    • Use them as a filling for empanadas, cakes or quesadillas.
    • Combine them with other ingredients such as spinach, cheese and herbs.
  4. Sauces:
    • Add them to pasta, rice or meat sauces.
    • Cook the mushrooms with onions and garlic before adding liquids and reducing to make a tasty sauce.
  5. Salads:
    • Add them raw or cooked to salads for an earthy touch and unique texture.
    • Combine with green leaves, fruits, nuts and dressing.
  6. Accompaniment for meats:
    • Serve them as an accompaniment to grilled or baked meats.
    • You can grill them with herbs and spices.
  7. Risotto:
    • Add mushrooms to a Risotto to give it flavor and depth.
    • Add the mushrooms at the end of cooking so they retain their texture.
  8. Pizzas and focaccias:
    • Add finely cut mushrooms as an additional ingredient to pizzas or focaccias.
    • They combine especially well with cheeses and herbs.
  9. Pasta fillings:
    • Use mushrooms in pasta fillings such as ravioli or tortellini.
    • Combine with ricotta cheese, spinach and walnuts for a balanced flavor.
  10. Veggie Burgers:
    • Add chopped mushrooms to veggie burgers to improve texture and flavor.
    • You can mix them with legumes, grains and spices.

Remember to wash the mushrooms well before cooking and adjust the cooking times depending on the specific recipe you are following. Also, experiment with different varieties, such as mushrooms, shiitake, portobello, or porcini, for a variety of flavors and textures.

It is important to note that not all mushrooms are edible, and some varieties can be toxic. Therefore, it is essential to purchase them from reliable sources and, if in doubt, consult a mycology expert or buy them from trusted stores.