Archive for the ‘Mushroom Masters’ Category

2014 Was the Year of the Mushroom

This year mushrooms were everywhere! From schools and universities, to online communities and restaurants; 2014 was most certainly the year of the mushroom! Council Representative, Kathleen Pries, breaks down the four best mushroom highlights of 2014.

1. Mushrooms Get Noticed Online. It was a record breaking year for mushroom mentions online! Serious Eats featured seven posts showcasing blended recipes of chefs Linton Hopkins and Jehangir Mehta, the Mamavation weight loss community challenged their followers to incorporate the blend into their weight loss strategy, and Life of Dad hosted a #ShroomTember recipe challenge in September. Burger Business listed blended burgers as a trend to watch, Health revealed five surprising facts about mushrooms, and the Washington Post told us why the meat-mushroom blend makes sense. The humble mushroom is definitely getting noticed.

2. Mushrooms on the Menu.
Isn’t it incredible that over 80% of all restaurants serve mushrooms? In fact, mushrooms are one of the fastest growing items on the menu. And it’s no wonder why, mushrooms are not only delicious, but versatile, adding flavour and texture to any cuisine. Some of our favorite restaurants featured mushrooms on their menus this year; Atlanta’s king of burgers, restaurateur and chef Linton Hopkins menued his blend burger, while Seasons 52 developed a new mushroom duxelle for their Signature Burger. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants realized the many benefits of the Blend and introduced a Turkey and Wild Mushroom Meatloaf, and Romano’s Macaroni Grill continues to menu their Veal Marsala Meatball, which is a half-pound blended meatball that combines veal and mushrooms.

The Better Burger Project also rolled through Boston’s Copley Square in September. Seven Boston chefs competed in the “Earth and Turf: The Better Burger Challenge” in an effort to make a delicious tasting burger by blending meat with finely chopped mushrooms. All participating chefs menued their “better burger” creations at their restaurants in October.

3. Mushrooms in Schools. Mushrooms were popping up on school menus across the country this year! From Cincinnati Public Schools to the University of Washington, students were introduced to many different types of mushroom menu items. Chef Jehangir Mehta treated the students at the University of Massachusetts to his famous blended “Graffiti” burger, while Food Network celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan showcased her favourite blend dishes at the University of North Texas. In July, the Mushroom Council introduced school foodservice director to the Blend while exhibiting at SNA ANC in Boston. Many directors and showed interest and agreed the Spicy Mushroom Meatballs were the perfect way to get kids to eat their mushrooms!

4. Mushrooms as a Superfood. 2014 was also a banner year for mushroom research. A first-of-its-kind sensory study on the Blend was conducted by the Culinary Institute of America and University of California-Davis proving the flavor and nutritional benefits of the blend. A Nutrition Today manuscript was published calling for mushrooms to be crowned as their own kingdom based on their distinct nutrient and culinary characteristics. More and more, mushrooms are being recognized for the superfood they are!

We are definitely looking forward to continued success in 2015!

Behind the Scenes: The Blend 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 blended 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 Blend 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 blended 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 Blending.


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!