How to Consume Mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of the healthiest foods that exist in the human diet. They are powerful superfoods, cancer fighters, inflammation fighters, and also have antioxidant properties that fight the negative effects of aging.

Whether you eat mushrooms regularly or have no idea what to do with them, they’re a versatile and simple food to add to your diet, even if you or someone you cook for thinks they’re gross. Add them to the right foods and you can easily mask their earthy flavor or chewy texture while still enhancing the flavor of your dish. These are some of the most common types of mushrooms in the human diet:

Cremini/White Button/Portobello (Different varieties of the same species)
Shiitake
Maitake
Morel 
Oyster
Lion’s Mane
Enoki
Beech
Chanterelle
Bolete/Porcini

Be sure to read our guide to the most common types of mushrooms for more information on their flavor and nutrition profiles.

Food and Mushrooms

How to Add Mushrooms to Your Diet

Mushrooms can be added to all kinds of recipes as a flavor enhancer, for added texture, and most importantly, for the added health benefits. Here are some ideas for next time you want to add mushrooms to your diet:

Sauteed Mushrooms – There are few things more delicious than fresh mushrooms sauteed in olive oil. These mushrooms, with a little salt to finish, can be added to all sorts of dishes. Kick things up a notch and sautee them with some onions and peppers. For an even richer flavor, add some balsamic or red wine toward the end of cooking. Sauteed mushrooms can be used in all sorts of ways:

Top your grilled chicken or steak
Fill up a baked potato
On top of veggie nachos
Add them to an omelet
Add them to homemade pizza
Make a mushroom grilled cheese sandwich
Add to soup or chili

Sauteed mushrooms are usually cooked at a high heat, which grills the edges a bit.

For an even sweeter option, mushrooms can also be caramelized.

Caramelized Mushrooms – Caramelized mushrooms are cooked low and slow, usually with lots of butter and onions. The slower cooking time allows the mushrooms to simmer in the butter, which slowly browns as it caramelizes the sugar in the mushrooms for a decadent, sweet flavor. Caramelized mushrooms are commonly made as a steak topping, but would also be delicious in any of the previously mentioned foods.

Roasted Mushrooms –Mushrooms that are roasted in the oven will have a chewier texture than sauteed mushrooms, but they can be used in just as many ways. If you have a “roast” setting on your oven, you can use this to create very crispy, bacon-like mushrooms using a little oil, salt, pepper, and paprika.

Ultimately, it depends if you prefer the effects of a sautee or an oven-baked style, which will probably depend on the type of recipe you’re making. Roasted mushrooms make a great side dish or snack on their own!

Dried Mushrooms –Dried mushrooms are mushrooms that have been baked at a low and slow temperature to remove moisture while retaining flavor. These mushrooms can be eaten as crispy snacks or cooked directly into a dish. Shiitake mushrooms are some of the most delicious, and thus most popular, dried mushrooms. They’re pretty common at most grocery stores and make a great addition to stir fry and soups.

Avoid Raw Mushrooms

There is a lot of back and forth in the diet and wellness world about whether mushrooms are safe to eat raw. Surely you’ve seen sliced raw mushrooms at a salad bar, and being that they’re packed with nutritional benefits, you’d assume they’re fine to eat in their most natural state. 

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, raw mushrooms contain a compound called chitin, which makes up their tough cell walls. Chitin is also found in the shells of anthropods like lobsters and is virtually impossible for the body to digest properly. Although mushrooms are not nearly as tough as the exoskeleton of a lobster, the human body still has a hard time processing chitin, which can be broken down by cooking your mushrooms before eating them.

Raw mushrooms also contain small amounts of toxins, some of which are known carcinogens. These toxins can also be cooked off by thoroughly heating them before eating. 

Truth be told, the full flavor of mushrooms comes out the most when they’re cooked, so eating mushrooms raw is a missed opportunity to enjoy some of the richest flavors.

Lion mane mushroom