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    You Ask, I Answer: Mushrooms

    From a nutrition standpoint, are all varieties of mushrooms pretty much the same?

    Sometimes I see portobello mushroom steak as a vegetarian option at restaurants.

    Is it higher in protein than other types?

    — Linda Ahern
    Santa Ana, CA

    All mushrooms are good low-calorie sources of potassium, phosphorus, and two B vitamins (riboflavin and niacin.)

    A cup of chopped mushrooms also offers approximately ten percent of the selenium daily value (although oyster mushrooms come up short in this mineral.)

    Portobello mushrooms are not higher in protein than other varieties.

    A five-ounce serving only delivers 5 grams of protein (that same amount of tofu offers 15 grams; five ounces of seitan contribute 30 grams; half a cup of black beans adds up to 10 grams.)

    Portobello mushroom “steak” as a vegetarian option on a restaurant menu strikes me as rather uninspired, particularly when it is the only meat-free choice.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have been at events where that is the sole vegetarian dish, and it is literally nothing but a huge, grilled portobello mushroom inside a hamburger bun. Snore!

    Many chefs love it, though, because it’s very easy to prepare.

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    One Comment

    1. Kristin said on November 4th, 2008

      For a more inspired portobello burger try this recipe for Chipotle Portobello Burgers (adapted from this recipe by grill mister Stephen Raichlen: http://www.primalgrill.org/htdocs/veggies.html)

      For the marinade:

      3-4 canned chipotles in adobo
      3 cloves garlic, finely minced
      1/2 cup chopped onion
      2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
      2 tbsp vegetable oil
      salt and pepper to taste

      4 large portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean with a damp paper towel
      1 large sweet onion, cut crosswise into slices, then skewered
      vegetable oil (for brushing onion)
      2 poblano or hatch green chiles

      For serving:

      4 thin slices pepper Jack cheese (optional)
      2 ripe avocadoes, pitted and sliced

      Instructions:
      1. Puree the marinade ingredients.

      2. Place the mushrooms in a single layer in a nonreactive baking dish, gill-side up, and pour the marinade over them, working the marinade into the gills with the back of a spoon. Cover and marinate, refrigerated, up to 1 hour.

      When ready to cook, remove the mushrooms from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Brush the onion slices with vegetable oil. Place the portobellos (gill-side down), the onion slices, and the poblanos on the grill grate. Grill for about 3 minutes, then turn with tongs. Spoon some of the reserved marinade on the gill-side of the mushrooms and continue to grill until tender.

      To serve, remove the skewers from the onion slices. Scrape the charred skin of the poblanos, remove the stem end, and cut into quarters. Remove seeds and/or veins. Top each mushroom with a slice of pepper Jack cheese (if using), onion, poblano pepper, and several slices of avocado.

      Round out the meal with black beans, and a side of sweet potato oven fries or some sauteed plantains… or both!

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