So I have been raving about this recipe to a few people and gotten a very similar reaction from all of them, which sort of goes like this – ‘Huh!?!’

This is closely followed by – ‘you put what in it?’

(Seriously, it does seem crazy, but bear with me, it is worth it – I promise).

Mystery Ingredient

So straight off the bat I am going to say what that ingredient is. It’s cauliflower.
I would love to take the credit for being the genius that decided to put cauliflower in a smoothie, but I cannot. Folks have been doing it for a while and with good reason.

Taste

Firstly – it does not taste weird at all, it actually makes your smoothie creamy and thick without the need for any dairy. Cauliflower is a high fiber food and excellent for gut health, but its also that fiber that gives the smoothie such a good mouth feel.

Nutrient Powerhouse(i)

Another little known fact is that cauliflower is loaded with Vitamin C; as are all the veggies found in the cruciferous family (i.e.: kale, broccoli, cabbage). Unlike the rest of its family its not green. At this point you may be remembering an article or something about avoiding white foods. Generally white foods are highly processed (breads, crackers, cereals, baked goods, sugar), and have low nutrient values, which is a good reason to avoid them. Cauliflower is the exception.

The leathery leaves that surround the cauliflower protect it from the sun and hinders the chlorophyll development, which is why, unlike its cousins, it’s white.

The nutrients remain though. Besides the fiber and Vitamin C you also get Vitamin K, potassium, phosphorus and a range of vitamin B’s.

Cancer(ii), Hormones(iii) & Plastic(iv)

Cauliflower contains glucosinolate compounds which have been shown to assist in the elimination of carcinogens. Most notably indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphane, di-indolmethane, and isothiocyanates have been the focus.

Indole-3-carbinol has also been found to assist in the regulation of estrogen activity and metabolism.

This is significant considering the issue we have with so much plastic in our food chain and home environment. Plastic chemicals mimic hormones (in particular estrogen) in our body and act as hormone disruptors. While we now have the option to purchase BPA free items, the hormone disruptor effects remain.

I’m not sure why cauliflower isn’t considered a superfood, but perhaps that’s a good thing. It seems superfoods come with a hefty price tag and we don’t want that to happen to this gem.

Bad Rep

Healthy food gets a bad rep sometimes as they can be a little bland or have a strong flavor that isn’t always that nice. Raw cauliflower can potentially fit into this category as there is a slight bitterness to it. (We can thank those nutrients I mentioned earlier for this). This can be remedied easily by lightly steaming it.

Avoid over cooking as it will become more bitter and lose much of its nutrient value.

The Many Ways to Enjoy Cauliflower

You can make so many things with cauliflower, it truly is a versatile vegetable. Here are some ideas:

  • Cauli-rice: grated, raw and flash fried, it makes a great substitute for rice
  • Cauli-pearls: raw stems, chopped into small pieces, lightly steamed make a great substitute for pearl barley
  • Cauli-mash: entire cauliflower (not the leaves), broken into chunks, steamed, add spices and your favorite milk/mylk, and mash it
  • Cauli-sauce: entire cauliflower (not the leaves), steamed, add favorite spices, dash of lemon and olive oil, your favorite milk/mylk blend well and you have a dairy free white sauce
  • Cauliflower: lightly steamed cauliflower with some spices or your favorite sauce over it is also great, no need to be fancy all the time.
  • Zero Waste: the leaves are edible! They can be added to a stir fry and enjoyed with other greens. All cauliflower scraps can be added to stews and vegetable broths

Then of course there is this smoothie recipe. I dare you to try it at least once. You don’t even have to use blueberries – try variations and make it your own!

Blueberry Smoothie

A creamy dairy free smoothie with loads of flavor
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Breakfast, Drinks, Snack
Keyword: dairyfree, glutenfree, nutfree, soyfree, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oat milk cold, use more if required
  • 120 grams Cauliflower frozen
  • 220 grams Blueberries frozen
  • 25 grams Pitted Dates usually 2 or 3

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth
  • Serve and enjoy

Notes

No Oat Milk: Use your favorite dairy, seed or nut milk if you don't have oat milk
No Blueberries: Use your favorite frozen berries or fruit instead
Frozen Cauliflower: If you cannot find any in the store, then make your own.
Lightly steam cauliflower florets, allow to cool. Spread them out on a baking tray and place in freezer. Once frozen, place in a container and store in the freezer 

References:

In case you haven’t read my blog about Chocolate – Healthy or Not?, then spoiler alert – yes it is***.

(***All those stars mean there are terms, conditions, and fine print).

Sigh! I know, it would be so cool if this one single delicious ingredient could be given a decisive go ahead.

It’s your prerogative

How you use chocolate in your diet is your choice, but for most of us it’s going to feature in some way. So, to make the search for healthier chocolate recipes easier, I put together a little recipe round up for you.

I thought we could start with 5 recipes. (Mostly because I have personally made each one and my family and I may be a little overloaded on chocolate at the moment).

About that fine print I mentioned

Treats are something that need to be eaten mindfully and in moderation. While all these recipes are gluten free, they inevitably use some form of sweetener, (always natural). If you are experiencing issues with blood sugar or hormones, I urge you to partake in moderation.

Who’s on the list

The health and wellness community is diverse and when I reached out to my colleagues for recipes, I was thrilled to get responses from all over the globe (Canada, Australia & South Africa). Whether you are near or far you can enjoy what we each have to offer.
[/av_textblock]

Grain-Free Chocolate Zucchini Fudge Cake 

Chocolate and fudge in the same sentence!

This gem is loaded with protein and fiber to help with managing blood sugar spikes. Zucchini is a truly underrated fruit and you will be surprised (and delighted) at how well it works with this recipe. Another bonus is the handy swop outs to accommodate a vegan diet – so everyone can try this one out.

Caitlin is a Certified Holistic & Culinary Nutritionist and Yoga Instructor based in St John, Canada. She is a passionate advocate of changing our relationship with food to live our best lives. To find out more about her incredible story and for more recipes, be sure to visit her site: Nourished by Caitlin Iles and follow her on social media: @nourishedbycaitlin

Double Chocolate Almond Granola

https://www.mealsbytiia.com/recipes/double-chocolate-almond-granola/Tiia knocked it out the park with this recipe.

If a chocolaty start to the day is what you are after, then her Double Chocolate Almond Granola is what you have been looking for.

Using raw cacao powder to boost the antioxidant and magnesium goodness as well as offering the option to add a little collagen powder. I love a recipe that manages to pack a nutritional punch and doesn’t compromise on taste. Tiia is a Culinary Nutritionist based in Toronto, Canada and helps her clients with meal prepping, planning and much more. For more recipes be sure to head on over to her site: Meals by Tiia and follower her on social media: @mealsbytiia

Fully Loaded GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are not only delicious but so quick and easy to prepare. Great for whipping up when guests come over or as a gift for your friends – trust me they will thank you, or to have with your afternoon tea – no sharing needed.

Sharan follows a Gluten Free eating plan to best manage her health and does not compromise on taste. The smell alone will have you drooling.

Sharan is a certified Health and Hormone Coach based in Melbourne, Australia. Through her own journey of dealing with 3 autoimmune diseases Sharan focuses on feeling well, living well and loving life. Follow Sharan on social media: @whysettleforordinary or download the recipe here with all her contact details.

GF Dark Chocolate Torta Caprese

This is decadence at its best!

If you want to impress with an after-dinner slice of chocolaty heaven – then this is the go to recipe. It’s like a soft pillow of chocolate.

Shoots and Leaves are an eatery based in Umhlanga, KZN, South Africa. Their food is always fresh with something new on the menu each day. Using local whole foods their harvest table lunches are legendary and a must try if you are in the area.

To order your box of farm fresh veg, wholesome frozen meals for the week or meet up with friends for a delicious lunch check out their website: Shoots & Leaves or connect with them on social media: @shoots_and_leaves_sa

Download the recipe here with all their contact details.

Chocolate Truffle Cups

This is one of my personal favorite recipes to make. From my days of following a ketogenic diet and loving the texture of smooth buttery fat bombs, it was a springboard from there. Tahini with coconut syrup is also reminiscent of the old days when I would have peanut butter and syrup.

It all makes for a deep chocolaty, buttery truffle in a bed of crispy hazelnut. A mineral rich treat sure to satisfy the chocolate lover in you.

Chocolate Truffle Cups

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Set Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert, Treat
Keyword: chocolate
Servings: 12

Equipment

  • Cupcake Tray
  • Cupcake Liners
  • Spoon
  • Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Measuring Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup Dates pitted
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil melted
  • 50 grams Cacao Powder
  • 75 ml Coconut Syrup
  • 2 tbsp Tahini

Instructions

  • Preheat oven tp 160°C and line cupcake tray with cupcake liners
  • CUPS: Blend hazelnuts and dates in a food processor for 1 - 2 minutes. (Duration will depend on processor strength). The mixture will be course but stick together when rolled into a ball.
  • Divide mixture into 12 equal sized balls and press each ball tightly into cupcake liners. (It should reach about halfway up the sides)
  • Place tray in the oven and bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until they begin to brown. Remove and place on cooling rack. (Discard cupcake liners just prior to serving). Prepare filling while cups are baking and cooling.
  • FILLING: Add melted coconut oil, cacao powder and coconut syrup to a medium well and mix well.
  • Once cups have cooled (5-10min) pour or spoon filling into each cup until it just reaches the top.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow filling to firm up. (To set it quicker place in freezer for 10-15 minutes)
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

Substitutes: Use raw honey or maple syrup instead of coconut syrup
More flavor: Experiment with filling and mix in chopped basil/mint, dried orange or coconut.
Dates too dry: soak them in warm water for a few minutes, then discard the water and use the dates
Leftovers: Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge. (Can be frozen, but may affect the crispiness of the cups)

Part 1 dealt with how honey was made and some environmental issues. It was clear that honey is not without some controversy. However available and commonplace it seems to be across the world, it is something that we need to take notice of and consider.

In Part 2 we are going to talk a little more around the health and usage of honey.

Depending on your health practices/beliefs you may consider using honey as anything from a firm ‘no thanks’ to considering honey to be the elixir of life. Love it, hate it or avoid it, it’s a very interesting substance. As is the case with the history, production and environmental information available, a single blog, (or two), doesn’t even scratch the surface on health and cooking information. 

Lets Get The Sugar Thing Out The Way

The composition of honey is actually quite complex. It has over 20 different types of sugars that fall under two main categories: glucose and fructose. Proportions vary depending on the source of the nectar. (As a general rule sweeter honeys have more fructose). At this point you would be tempted to start reading up about the different sugars to determine their health benefits or effects, but regardless of the prevalent type of sugar it all turns into glucose in your body.

This makes it a potent source of energy. For those of you that are carb conscious it’s a no go sweetener. On the flip side if you are looking for fat free, low protein then honey is on the menu.

What about diabetics?

But what if you are diabetic? That is a very tricky question. A meta analysis(i) of over 100 studies, done in 2018, looked specifically at honey for preventing and treating various types of diabetes. A number of the studies showed clear benefits of honey, not all were specific to diabetes but there was promise.

There were also a number of studies that were inconclusive or contrary.

The conclusion – further studies were required and dosage would have to be determined. That’s science for you – yes, no… maybe.

You decide

While I will not weigh in on whether a diabetic can or cannot use honey, it needs to be noted that there are other benefits to honey unlike many other regular or processed sugars commonly available. If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic or have issues with sugar, then perhaps proceed with caution and make sure you are working with a health professional.

The Glycemic Factor

The Glycemic Index (GI) of honey is closely related to the combination of its sugar content and can range from 35 – 80.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Glycemic Index (GI) then the quick answer is this – The GI level of food determines how quickly it spikes your blood glucose levels. The scale goes 1 – 100 and foods with a value of 55 or less are generally digested slower, therefore less likely to spike you blood glucose, therefore insulin levels.

Now you may think, ‘I’m not diabetic, so that doesn’t apply to me’, but think again. Insulin has a knock on effect on adrenal and cortisol levels, growth hormones and more.

The GI level can be mitigated by what you eat with your honey. This is called a Glycemic Load (GL). By combining foods with a higher fiber and/or fat content you can potentially lower the overall load of the meal. The idea is slow down the metabolization of the food. Having honey in your tea versus having it on a seed cracker has a vastly different effect on your body. This is something to consider when deciding where to use honey in your diet.

Storage and Use

Before we get into the health benefits of honey, let’s make sure we aren’t destroying all that goodness while it’s sitting on our shelf.

Heat 

In part 1 I pointed out that the temperature was quite important. This is because the healing enzymes of honey begin to deteriorate and are deactivated by heat. Honey should not be heated above 40˚C. (This needs to be noted when cooking or baking with honey).

If you are using high heat then consider using a cheaper or pasteurized honey as you are using it for flavor and not for nutrition.

Pasteurized honey has been treated with high heat and is therefore not as nutritious as raw honey.

Light

Like heat, light has the same effect on honey. It is best to keep it in a dark environment or in a dark container.

Shelf Life

Honey stored in well sealed, dark glass containers have an indefinite lifespan. There have been vats found in Egyptian tombs dating back 4000 years. Still edible, still delicious.

You want to avoid plastic containers for two reasons. The first is the obvious reason of it being plastic and contaminating whatever is in it. The other is that plastic does in fact allow air in. This can darken the honey and even begin a small amount of fermentation.

Kitchen Hacks

  • When measuring out your honey for a recipe, coat your measuring spoon or cup with a little coconut oil first. This will allow it to slide out without too much staying behind.
  • To make honey more pliable or runny. Warm thick honey by placing the container in some warm, (not boiling), water for 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Honey can also be caramelized like sugar. You will need to heat it to around 70˚C or higher.
  • Honey browns more quickly than sugar. When baking you may have to lower the oven temperature and cook for longer.

The Health Benefits(ii)

Honey has been used as a healing balm and drink for millennia. Before the science and terminology was even invented, honey was used as an antimicrobial and antibacterial agent. Today medical grade honey is still being used.

The most notable studies are now being done around its efficacy in life threatening antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

A medical article(ii) published in 2011 listed the first written mentions of honeys medicinal properties as follows:

“a Sumerian tablet writing, dating back to 2100-2000 BC, mentions honey’s use as a drug and an ointment. Aristotle (384-322 BC), when discussing different honeys, referred to pale honey as being “good as a salve for sore eyes and wounds”

That same article went on to conclude that after reviewing many studies, “Microbial resistance to honey has never been reported”.

Honey is most useful in the medicinal sense as a topical application. However, this does not mean you get to bypass the doctor if you have a wound. The use and application for these purposes are done under medical supervision and dosage. What this does is simply validate the healing abilities of honey. 

What about when we eat it?

Honey has many health aiding benefits to it and can be a valuable addition to a healthy diet. However, caution must be taken and we must remember:

  • It is still a sugar
  • Where you get it from is important
  • How you store it and use it impacts its health benefits
  • Bees are crucial to our survival as a species, so be responsible when using honey

REFERENCES

Almond Butter Toffee

A simplified toffee recipe using just two ingredients!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 mins
Resting Time1 d
Total Time1 d 12 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 16
Author: Dawn

Equipment

  • Candy Thermometer
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon
  • Electronic Scale
  • Parchment Paper (optional)
  • Loaf Pan or flat dish

Ingredients

  • 150g Honey
  • 150g Almond Butter or use your favourite nut or seed butter instead
  • Coconut Oil for greasing

Instructions

  • Line dish with parchment paper or lightly grease with coconut oil
  • Place honey in sauce pan with candy thermometer and set heat to medium
  • Allow honey to boil until it reaches 120˚C
    - no candy thermometer - no problem. have a cup of cold water handy. When the honey is boiling, drop some (just a drop) into a cup of cold water, if it makes a ball and sinks then it’s ready
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool for a bit (±1min)
  • Add almond butter to the pot and stir until the mixture becomes toffee like and forms a ball (2-3min)
    - you should be able to handle the mixture without it sticking to your fingers
  • Place mixture in the loaf tin or dish or your choice
    - you may have to bang the tin/s on the counter to level out the mixture
  • Leave to cool for about an hour, then cover and refrigerate for 1 - 2 hours
  • Remove from fridge, cut into toffee size blocks and serve (can be individually wrapped in parchment or wax paper for gifting)

Substitution

  • Use a nut or seed butter of your choice. (Different nut and seed butters have different textures. End results may vary)

More Flavor

  • Add choc chips, chili flakes, dried orange rind, botanicals, ginger, vanilla, course sea salt, whole nuts…

Storage

  • Store in airtight container, in between layers of parchment or wax paper
  • Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. (It sets more & gets better the longer you leave it in the fridge)

Notes

Nutrition Note
Remember this is a treat and should be eaten sparingly and mindfully.
A Word on Honey
Honey heated to 40˚C – 50˚C no longer has any healthy enzymes and is therefore just a sugar. For this particular recipe you may want to use a cheaper brand that may have been pasteurized. It is always prudent to check that the honey you purchase is sustainably sourced and from a local supplier.
Some cheaper brands are blended with substances that are called adulterants and should be avoided. Adulterants include substances like high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, flour and starches.
Hives that are kept in unsavory conditions require antibiotics and fungicides and may contain contaminants like pesticides and pollutants or even thinned out with water.
apple, apple recipes

Apples are grown and eaten throughout the world and have been around forever. We love apples so much it’s in everything from fragrance, flavor, the shape of a perfume bottle and even the name of our electronics. There is even the infamous slogan – ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ which is more about eating healthy than the actual apple itself, but let’s not lose focus here.

Apples are so common place we may actually overlook its benefits and take them for granted. When you are standing with the fridge door looking longingly for something ‘nice’ to eat you will be forgiven for not noticing the pretty pile of apples on the center table and the row on the fridge shelf. But, after all these years in our history it remains an easy and crunchy dose of nutrition.

Apples are high in fiber (skin on for maximum fiber), vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and now that we know more about the microbiome there is that extra benefit of knowing that it is loaded with prebiotics which are massively beneficial to our gut health and therefore our overall health.

Let’s look at a few benefits these gems provide:

Antioxidant for anti-ageing… oh, and disease fighting

The beauty industry have gone out of their way to let us know about the anti-ageing properties of antioxidants and they aren’t wrong, BUT as I will repeatedly say in my blogs, if you want to optimize the absorption and benefits then diet is the best option. Apples don’t just come with antioxidants; they have many cofactors that bring their own disease fighting benefits to the table.

Apple vs Vitamin C Supplement

Antioxidant supplementation is a multibillion dollar industry and yet the humble apple (and many other wholefoods), go unnoticed (like the Cinderella of whole foods).

A review was done on numerous studies related to apples, in this review they compared the antioxidant activity between a 1500mg Vitamin C supplement to one apple (skin on), and, well let’s just read what they wrote:

‘The total antioxidant activity of apples with the peel was approximately 83 μmol vitamin C equivalents, which means that the antioxidant activity of 100 g apples (about one serving of apple) is equivalent to about 1500 mg of vitamin C’

That same review goes on to list the benefits in relation to cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and pulmonary function, diabetes and the ever popular weight loss topic.

Take a deep breath

Asthma is all too real for many of us and needs to be taken seriously. So why not add food to your diet that can help. Apples contain a component called ‘quercetin’ that has been attributed to help lower the risk of asthma. Now I am not saying it will cure asthma, but if you are looking to create a lifestyle that deals with your health issues from all angles then including apples in your diet is a good place to start. Again the review mentions this specifically:

‘Flavonoid intake in general was associated with a lower risk of asthma, and the association was attributed mainly to quercetin, hesperitin, and naringenin’.

Keeping ’It’ Regular

Because of all that fiber and prebiotic goodness apples help keep you regular and help avoid that nasty constipation that seems so common nowadays. (Now you know what ‘it’ refers).

Constipation isn’t just an uncomfortable experience, if it’s happening a little too often; you definitely want to get it checked out. It could be a symptom of an underlying health problem or actually cause nasty things like hemorrhoids, hiatal hernias, and varicose veins.

The Wrong Kind of Runs

You may think avoiding apples would be better if you have the ‘runs’, but that would be a mistake. They contain a binding ingredient called pectin. Not only is this the reason we use apple sauce as an egg substitute in baking, but that very same effect works in your intestine and helps keep things balanced. Applesauce made with the skin is a great home remedy that has been used over the ages. Homemade applesauce is of course best and the only sure fire way to ensure it hasn’t been loaded with sugar and additives.

Hopefully by now I have convinced you to give apples another go and not let them go wrinkly and brown on the kitchen counter. If this is the case then I have a few extra pointers to help you.

So your choice is that you can have a tasteless supplement or a delicious crispy disease fighting apple that will satisfy a craving or two and keep hunger pangs at bay – you decide.

Buying and Storing Apples

  • Buy organic where possible
  • Check your apples before you buy them and try get them as unbruised and firm as possible. They should have a bright color, no wrinkling and smell good.
  • As soon as you get home, be sure to give them a good rinse and dry them off well.
  • Store loose and on their own. Apples give off ethylene gas which accelerates the ripening of produce.
  • Fresh apples can be kept in the fridge for a few months (may not look as pretty, but they are still okay).
  • Use browned, older or bruised apples for applesauce or cooking – you won’t notice the blemishes and still get all the flavor and goodness.

Taking the boring out of apples

  • Apples served with a side of almond butter to dip in is a great snack and rich in boron;
  • Dice your apple and add to your oatmeal for extra flavor;
  • Sprinkle your apple with a bit of cinnamon and/nutmeg to spice it up;
  • Skip the cucumber and add some apple slices to your next sandwich (you will be surprised).

LET’S ADDRESS THE WAX ON APPLES

There have been videos going around showing warm water being poured over apples and a shockingly large amount of wax coming off the apples. This of course is very off putting and may make you rethink your apple consumption. But here are a few things you should know:

Yes – some food chains do coat their apples with a wax mix. They do this to add shine and for longevity. The type of wax and how much they use depends on the supplier. There are different blends that include natural and synthetic blends. We are also assured that these are safe and do not harm us, I will leave the decisions as to whether it is bad or not to you. Organic farmers seem to get by just fine without it?

At this point you may be thinking ‘ where did they get the idea to coat apples with wax’? Brace yourselves – nature. Yup, in nature all species have built in protection mechanisms and apples are one of the fruits that actually produce their own protective wax-like coating. The coating is called epicuticular (cuticle) wax. Perfectly safe and nothing a good rinse in vinegar water wont sort out.

Apples really are a healthy ‘to-go go-to’ (that was fun to type) food, no extra packaging needed.

So before you give your farmer or organic fruit supplier the beady eye ask them first if they add wax or if it’s the natural version. In fact, just check before you assume as not all fresh produce suppliers add wax.

Is it a thumbs up or thumbs down for apples?

All those interesting health benefits of apples aside, it’s a really versatile little fruit. In The 5 Things You Can Do With Apples recipe booklet we get to incorporate apples into everyday meals. So you may find eating a whole apple a little boring, then my challenge to you is incorporate it in other ways.

Is there a downside?

If I was backed into a corner and told – Find one downside of apples? I would have to mention the seed. It contains trace amounts of cyanogenic glycosides. These glycosides release tiny amounts of cyanide when coming into contact with human digestive enzymes. Now before you panic! Please note that the author of this here article has eaten apple seeds since she was a child. Even with my grandmother telling me an apple tree would grow out of my stomach and through my ears. You would also need to eat and very finely chew a lot. I mean A LOT of seeds to do some damage. So maybe, just don’t eat the seeds.

All in all, apples are a great addition to a nutritious diet – so thumbs up from me… how about you?

Mushrooms haven’t always been a favorite food of mine. But, after learning about their many nutritional qualities I decided to give them another try. Turns out they are pretty awesome. Having run out of spinach and needing an additional side for dinner, I decided to do a combo of my two kitchen favorites. Favorite spice – sumac. Favorite cooking method – roasting and so this delicious recipe was created.

FUN FACT: Eating mushrooms or fungi is known as mycophagy

Before we get into the recipe, let’s take a moment and talk about the amazing qualities of mushrooms. Mushrooms are entrenched in human history as far back as the paleolithic age and have almost always been known for their medicinal qualities. The Egyptians of old believed they had powers of immortality and commoners weren’t even allowed to touch them(i). Mushrooms were also known as ‘sons of gods’ as there were no seeds and no one could figure out how they propagated.

The Dark Side of Mushrooms

Of course you cannot talk about mushrooms and leave out a very important point – some of them are deadly! Over the era’s there were many accounts of entire families succumbing to the poisons of incorrectly identified mushrooms being added to their meal. You would think we would be very hesitant to go out and pick wild mushrooms, think again. In the Czech Republic it is an unofficial sport and it’s estimated that around 70% of the population are annual mushroomers (pickers)(ii). If you aren’t from the Czech Republic mushroomed hall of fame, it is probably best that you leave picking wild mushrooms be done by someone in the know.

What Kind of Mushroom

Our ancestors may have attributed the mushrooms godly origins based on superstition and simplistic beliefs, but with modern science we have come to understand just how powerful they are. There are many different types of mushrooms and each have varying degrees of health benefits, however most of us are familiar with the small brown, white or cremini mushrooms commonly referred to as button mushrooms. These technically or botanically speaking are in the same family and because they are so common let’s focus on what they bring to the table nutritionally.

Minerals(iii)

Button mushrooms are an excellent source of minerals which are very important to our bodies. We use dietary minerals for the growth and maintenance of our bones, tissues and cells. Without healthy levels of minerals in our bodies we may not be able to utilise vitamins correctly. Some minerals are only required in small quantities known as trace minerals and others are required in larger quantities.
Button mushrooms have selenium, copper, potassium and zinc making them a very healthy choice.

Vitamins(iii)

Mushrooms in general are a good source of vitamin B which is good news. Vitamin B’s are linked to our levels of energy, brain and cell health. B Vitamins are water soluble and need to be replenished regularly, so adding a few mushrooms to your meals are a great boost. Button mushrooms in particular have Vitamin B1, B2, B3 & B5.

Phytochemicals

Plants use phytochemical to protect themselves against various elements and predators. You would think that phyto = fight, but it is actually Greek for plant. These plant’ chemicals are most notably known for their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help us fight free radicals that can cause cancer. There are a growing number of anticancer studies using mushrooms that are showing a great deal of promise(iv).

So, again, once I realized what a powerhouse the fungi family was I had no choice but to rethink my aversion to mushrooms. It took a little getting used to, but spicing and roasting them made them simply irresistible!

Salty Sumac Roasted Mushrooms

A deliciously meaty like dish that can be eaten on its own or added to salads, pasta or toast
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Author: Dawn

Equipment

  • Oven
  • Roasting Pan

Ingredients

  • 250 g portabellini mushrooms
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp sumac spice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin

Instructions

  • heat oven to 180˚C
  • while oven is heating, wipe mushrooms (stem included) clean – do not wash with water as this will cause too much moisture
  • place in roasting tray and drizzle with oil, make sure the mushrooms are evenly coated, use extra if necessary, avoid drenching in oil
  • sprinkle with salt, pepper and sumac and mix with a spatula until mushrooms are roughly coated
  • place in oven and bake for 30 minutes
  • remove and serve

Notes

Serve with: pasta, as a topping on a salad, or as a side dish
Storage: best eaten straight away. As the mushrooms cool they will get soft, drain them on a paper towel stem side down, place in an airtight container and store in the fridge for a day 

References

  • (i) Abdel-Azeem, Ahmed & Abdel Azeem, Mohamed & Blanchette, Robert & Mohesien, Marwa & Salem, Fatma. (2016). The Conservation of Mushroom in Ancient Egypt through the Present.
  • (ii) 16, KytkaMarch, et al. “Edible Wild Mushrooms.” Everything Czech | by Tres Bohemes, 30 May 2018, www.tresbohemes.com/2016/03/edible-wild-mushrooms/.
  • (iii) “Mushrooms, Crimini.” Mushrooms, Crimini, www.whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=97.
  • (iv) Chen, Shiuan & Oh, Sei-Ryang & Phung, Sheryl & Hur, Gene & Ye, Jing & Kwok, Sum & Shrode, Gayle & Belury, Martha & Adams, Lynn & Williams, Dudley. (2007). Anti-Aromatase Activity of Phytochemicals in White Button Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). Cancer research. 66. 12026-34. 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-06-2206.