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Why mushrooms are healthy, and 10 ways to use them

A variety of edible mushrooms

Healthy Food Guide takes a look at the science-backed reasons why mushrooms are so good for you, and offers 10 delicious ways for you to use them.

Mushrooms are low-calorie, budget-friendly nutrient powerhouses. They are a source of the B vitamins, riboflavin, B6 and niacin, for energy and protection against certain chronic illnesses and degenerative disorders; as well as the antioxidant mineral selenium, for cell, heart, cognitive, thyroid and immune support; and gut-protecting dietary fibre.

Interestingly, mushrooms also contain an antioxidant called ergothioneine which is produced exclusively in mushrooms and some bacteria.  There is evidence that the body may concentrate ergothioneine at sites of tissue injury.

Experiment with different varieties for the full range of flavour and texture.

Here are our top 10 quick mushroom recipes to help you enjoy the taste and health benefits of mushrooms:

1 Pack in mushrooms for lunch

Soak couscous in hot water according to the pack instructions. Stir sliced button mushrooms, cucumber, spring onions and halved cherry tomatoes into the warm couscous with a drained tin of tuna in water.

Transfer to a portable container, then stir in 2 teaspoons harissa paste or 1 tablespoon curry paste.

2 Build a better burger using mushrooms

Spray some portobello mushrooms with oil, then grill for 4 minutes on each side. Cut burger buns in half and spread the bottom half of each with a combination of a little pesto and low-fat mayo.

Add a mushroom and top with the other bun half.

3 Mushroom and melon medley

This surprising flavour combination makes a delicious fruity salad: put sliced button mushrooms into a large bowl. Add the zest and juice of 2 oranges and half a lemon.

Stir in orange segments, deseeded cucumber slices, galia melon cubes, fresh fig wedges and chopped mint.

4 Soup it up

Sauté a chopped onion in a little vegetable oil for 2 minutes, then add 2 crushed garlic cloves, 300g sliced mushrooms and 1 cubed potato and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add 350ml each of reduced-salt stock and water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes until the potato is tender.

Allow to cool slightly, then blend until smooth.

5 Make a cheesy mushroom melt

Remove the stems from 4 large mushrooms.

Spray the tops of the cups with oil and grill for 5 minutes.

Chop and sauté the stems in a little oil with garlic and diced tomato, then combine with 40g breadcrumbs and 50g reduced-fat mozzarella.

Fill the cups with the mixture and grill until the cheese melts.

6 Stir up a steak sauce

Sauté 200g sliced mushrooms in a little oil for 5 minutes, then add 1tablespoon plain flour and stir for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat. Add 175ml reduced-salt stock and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce to the mushrooms, stir and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 2–3 minutes, then stir in 4 tablespoons light cream, and spoon over grilled steak or chicken breasts.

7 Dish up a warm salad

Toast mixed seeds in a frying pan. Spray another pan with oil and sauté sliced flat mushrooms over a high heat for 4 minutes.

Add 1 crushed garlic clove and 1 deseeded and sliced red chilli and cook for a further 1 minute, then add the zest and juice of 1 lemon.

Toss the mushrooms and seeds with rocket, spinach and watercress, sliced avocado and pepper and flaked smoked mackerel.

8 Serve a simple side

Combine a little olive oil, red wine vinegar and sweet chilli sauce. Pour 1 tablespoon over quartered portobello mushrooms, then stir, cover and marinate for 30 minutes.

To serve, mix with quartered cherry tomatoes, sliced spring onions, chopped rocket, parsley and the remaining marinade.

9 Chop into a chilli

Cook sliced mushrooms with crushed garlic in a little oil until tender, then add 1 tablespoon chilli powder and stir.

Add reduced-salt vegetable stock, canned chopped tomatoes, rinsed and drained kidney beans and drained sweetcorn. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve with a spoonful of reduced-fat sour cream.

10 Create spicy canapés

Combine a little olive oil with ½ teaspoon each of nutmeg, cumin, coriander and turmeric and a pinch of black pepper and cardamom.

Pour over button mushrooms, toss well and leave to marinate for 15 minutes.

Stir-fry the mushrooms in oil over a high heat until tender, then serve on cocktail sticks with drinks.

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