Archive for the ‘Mushroom Masters’ Category

Behind the Scenes: Blendability Takes Over the CIA Kitchens

Boom poles and light reflectors, food processors and spatulas – join Council Representative, Bart Minor, behind the scenes at our recent mushroom cooking video shoot.

With the sun barely peeking over the horizon, the Mushroom Channel team and I headed to the infamous Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California. Bright eyed and bushy tailed we entered the facility and to our delight were greeted by some very familiar aromas – sautéed mushrooms, chili, lasagna, and tacos, just to name a few. At 7:00am the kitchen was already bustling. The staff were preparing a full-fledged mushroom blendability smorgasbord. Mouths watering, we made our way to the culinary demo theater where 2 days of intense filming were about to begin.

Fresh Mushrooms on Display

The industrial kitchen set was adorned with fresh mushrooms. Shiitakes, maitake, and oysters filled basket upon basket, while big, beefy portabellas bulked up the backdrop. It was evident how excited the crew was to shoot these videos. Promptly at 7:30am, Chef Bill Briwa arrived, and we were ready to get blending!

CIA Chef Bill Briwa Cooking Mushrooms

Chili, meatballs, tacos, and burgers – the blendability recipes were flowing. Chef Briwa worked diligently blending mushrooms into many of our everyday favorites – boosting the flavor, lowering the calories & fat, and creating a meal that we know our families love. Focusing on techniques, how-to, and delicious blendability recipes, Chef Briwa answered many common mushroom questions and offered exclusive tips and advice along the way.

Mushroom Blendability Recipes by CIA

Twenty four hours and sixteen videos later, the crew called it a wrap! With that we are happy to present the first mushroom cooking video in our video series – Mushroom Blendability.


From American classics to Italian favorites, maximize your meals with mushrooms!

If you are looking to see more behind the scenes footage from our CIA video shoot, you can find the full photo album on the Mushroom Channel Facebook Page.

Being a Role Model for Good Health

As a parent, you want to instill healthy lifestyle habits in your children early on. Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D. suggests some great tips for helping yourself and your children to good health.

Moms encourage their children to finish their milk, eat their veggies, and stay away from too many cookies and chips.

If you’re a mother, it may seem like your admonitions to eat better fall on deaf ears, but research and personal experience say otherwise. As it turns out, mothers possess the power of persuasion in more ways than one, especially when it comes to influencing what their daughters eat.

My mother often jokes that my grandmother, who arrived in the U.S. from Italy at the age of 17, was the original dietitian in the family. “Nana” didn’t have all the scientific facts and figures about food that I often spout to my children, but she did have the right idea about preparing balanced meals. She passed that knowledge on to her daughter.

My mother worked full-time outside of the home, yet resisted the temptation to serve us processed foods for meals and snacks. She was raised on the idea that a balance of colors on the plate made for a healthier meal. In a way, she was right: brightly colored vegetables, such as carrots, contain different beneficial compounds than paler produce, such as mushrooms, yet both vegetables are equally good for you.

Don’t get me wrong: We didn’t eat perfectly. My family’s love of bread and desserts (my brothers, parents, and I often overate), created weight control challenges for all of us.

While my mother struggled with her weight, she never strayed from serving healthy, balanced meals. That’s noteworthy, since moms who constantly diet influence their daughters to think about dieting, possibly leading to disordered eating.

As the mother of three girls, I can see how strongly daughters identify with their moms, and how actions speak louder than words. I’m like my mother in that I am nearly militant about family meals. We eat together as often as possible.



The meal may be as simple as take-out pizza, salad, and fruit. That’s okay, because family meals need not be elaborate to be effective: Studies show that the more often you eat together, the greater the chance of consuming fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, such as milk, and fewer soft drinks.

Being a mom is no small feat. You serve as a role model for healthy eating and an active, healthy lifestyle, and you support your child in doing the same. Mothering can be exhausting, but it’s important to remember you don’t need to feed your family perfectly every day. Do the best you can and you’ll be paying it forward by passing on the healthiest lifestyle possible to your children, and beyond.

Here are tips for helping yourself and your child to good health:

  • Eat the healthy foods and drink the beverages (water, low-fat milk, and 100% juices) that you want your children to consume. For example, research shows a mom’s own milk drinking habit is linked to more milk and fewer sugary drinks in her child’s diet.
  • Make every effort to have family meals at home and serve as a healthy role model. Keep those meals full of enjoyment and free of criticism.
  • Exercise together (take a walk, bike ride or do yard work) and exercise independently to serve as active role models.
  • Avoid pressure or restrictive feeding practices at mealtime. Pressuring, cajoling, and threatening will not get kids to favor healthier foods in the long run, and the opposite may occur.
  • Engage in healthy lifestyle changes to address a healthy weight, rather than restrictive, unhealthy diets.


How do you encourage your children to lead a healthy lifestyle?


Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mushroom Tacos

Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is a Celebration of Mexican heritage and pride observed nationwide with food and fiestas!

I’ve always loved this holiday, especially since one of my lifelong friends hosts an annual Cinco de Mayo party to celebrate her heritage and pride. Her father was born and raised in Mexico and brings rich cultural traditions to the party even adding some American flair, like stuffing a colorful piñata with candy. He prepares the most delicious chicken enchiladas topped with Chihuahua cheese, guacamole, fresh flower tortillas and Spanish rice. The music of the Mariachi band is always playing in the background.

This year I still plan to celebrate in-style (with my sombrero, of course!) – but I’ve decided to bring a lighter meal option to the table that will taste just as great with half the fat and calories. By substituting the creamy chicken enchiladas with mushroom tacos, I will be able to enjoy a fresh tasting Skinny Girl Margarita with my meal!

Mushroom Tacos with Salsa Verde (Makes 8 servings)

Taco Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • ¼ lb. 85% lean ground beef
  • ¾ lb. white button mushrooms
  • ¾ lb. crimini mushrooms
  • 2 cups julienne of sweet onions
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 4 Tbsp. ground chile pepper
  • Salt and pepper if necessary
  • Lime juice to taste
  • 8 Corn Tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 4 Tbsp. Cotija Cheese, grated

Avocado Salsa Verde Ingredients:

  • 1 large, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut in ½-inch dice
  • 1/3 cup diced tomato
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
  • ½ Tsp. seeded and minced Serrano chili
  • ½ Tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 Tsp. sugar


  1. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place ground beef in pan and cook; season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Chop mushrooms to approximately the size and texture of ground beef and sauté in a separate pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Combine mushrooms and meat and set aside.
  3. Heat sauté pan used for ground beef over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the mushroom/beef mixture and ground chili pepper. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes, stirring. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lime juice.
  4. To serve, toss shredded cabbage with salt, pepper, lime juice and cilantro. Place 2 tablespoons of shredded cabbage on a tortilla, and top with 2 tablespoons of mushroom and beef mixture. Top with a generous tablespoon of avocado salsa, and sprinkle with Cotija cheese to taste.

 To make Avocado Salsa Verde: Combine all salsa ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour.

For more great ideas, check out the Huffington Post slideshow: Cinco de Mayo Recipes: 10 Simple Nutrition Tricks For a Healthier Fiesta.

Mushroom Bucatini

The Mushroom Makeover – Meaty mushrooms lend themselves perfectly to rich sauces and stews and maintain their chewy texture when stirred into rich red sauces, like this Mushroom Bucatini recipe by Kelsey of The Naptime Chef.

Last winter I added a handful of chopped mushrooms to Bolognese for added flavor and texture. Just last week, I added them to my favorite bucatini recipe. They crisped up beautifully with the pancetta and added a rich underlying umami flavor to the fiery tomato-based sauce.

This simple dinner has always been a family favorite and with its mushroom makeover, we came to love it even more. Not only do the mushrooms deepen the flavor, they also add a delicious chewy texture alongside the crispy pancetta. With a sprinkle of Parmesan it is the perfect weeknight meal.


Mushroom Bucatini


  • 1 pound linguine
  • 5 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • ¾ cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or more to taste


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

2. In a large skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and mushrooms and sauté until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with a paper towel.

3. Add the onion and cook until translucent. About 6 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper and sauté for 30 seconds.

4. Pour in the tomatoes with their juices and add the salt and pepper. Add the reserved pancetta back to the pan. Simmer over medium-low heat until sauce is thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir the drained pasta into the finished sauce, toss well, and serve!


Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Veggies

After a long day at the office, running errands and getting the kids to soccer practice, finding time to cook as a parent can be stressful. What’s worse is trying to get your kids to eat what you cook, especially VEGGIES! Sometimes it is dejecting to deal with what it takes to get kids to eat the amount of fruits and veggies suggested by MyPlate – the government’s nutrition guide. Part of you just wants to give in and allow the children to eat what they want.

MyPlate recommends half of the dinner plate be full of fruits and veggies. That’s right – half of what children (and everyone, really!) are supposed to eat are wholesome veggies like broccoli and squash and fruits, including bananas and apples. That does not include kid-favorites like hotdogs, french fries, mac ‘n’ cheese and chicken fingers.

Which leads to the question, “How do I get my kids to eat more veggies?” Here are two useful tips that can help:

1. “Sneaky Mom” – Use the “Sneaky Mom” technique by hiding veggies in your kids favorite dishes, like pizza, burgers and lasagna.


One way is by using the “swapability” cooking technique. Substitute mushrooms for a portion of a higher calorie ingredient, such as meat. You not only add an extra serving of vegetables to the plate, but you also reduce calories and fat in a meal.

The swapability technique is as simple as three-steps:

  • Chop mushrooms to similar texture as meat, like ground beef
  • Cook the chopped mushrooms
  • Combine the cooked mushrooms with the meat

2. Make Cooking Fun – Involve your kids in the kitchen with the food preparation. Give them small tasks, such as washing fruits and veggies. Let them mix the salad or stir the sauce. When you have your kids help in the kitchen, it allows them to learn about nutrition and the foods they eat. Also, they’ll be more likely to try new foods they’ve helped make.

Feel free to share a comment below to let us know how you get your kids to eat more veggies!