What about Mushrooms?

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I was introduced to mushrooms in my early childhood. We used to hop on a bus in the wee hours to go mushroom picking in the forest. It was one of fun activities during late summer – early fall. It was so exciting to walk through the early morning forest in the rubber boots with a basket and search for edible mushrooms under the trees. In the middle of the day our baskets were almost full with colorful mushrooms. We all got together to sit down, rest, admire each other’s crop, drink hot tea from thermos and eat our tasty sandwiches lovingly prepared on the previous night. That’s as far as my interest for mushrooms went.

The next less exciting but necessary step was to clean, sort the mushrooms and prepare them for different cooking styles: some were good for conservation – pickled mushrooms in a jar – delicious appetiser during winter gatherings; some were good to dry and use in soups throughout the year; some were good to cook for that day dinner – Russian favorites – fried chanterelle mushrooms with onions, sour cream and potatoes! 🙂

I didn’t care about any of it 🙂

When I started my journey studying foods and their medicinal properties, I rediscovered mushrooms and developed taste for them overtime. Now mushrooms take a well-deserved place in my regular cuisine.

Mushrooms …

What are they? They aren’t vegetables no legumes. These, not so obviously defined plants, are very humble and modest. But as we know G-d often design humble to possess amazing qualities. And mushrooms are no exception. shiitake550x300

One of the medicinal mushroom leaders is Shiitake. Shiitake mushrooms high in many enzymes and vitamins that are not usually found in plants. Shiitake is effective in treating a long list of ailments including high cholesterol, gallstones, hyperacidity, stomach ulcers, diabetes, vitamin deficiency, anemia, and even the common cold. Shiitake are able to rapidly lower serum cholesterol. Studies with humans have shown that only three ounces of shiitake (5-6 mushrooms) a day can lower cholesterol by twelve percent in a week. There is increasing evidence that the health-promoting compounds found in medicinal and edible fungi, including shiitake, stimulate the immune system. Shiitake stimulate the defense system, spurring the immune fighters that attack cancer cells, bacteria, and viruses.

As a food source, Shiitake contains all eight of the essential amino acids in a better ratio than meat, milk, eggs, or soy beans. Not to mention they contain an excellent combination of vitamins and mineral including A, B, B12, C, and D. In addition, Shiitake produces a fat-absorbing compound which is perfect for those wanting to lose weight. It’s no wonder why the shiitake is also known as the “miracle mushroom”. Dried shiitake mushrooms have even stronger medicinal properties than fresh. And they are delicious when cooked!

Shiitake mushrooms are great in soups and various vegetable dishes. Here is the recipe of a basic miso soup where along with other ingredients it offers you healing powerhouse dish. Heal, lose weight and Enjoy!

enoki-mushrooms

The Enoki mushrooms could be found in Whole Foods Market or other health food stores and Asian markets. Enokitake mushrooms have tumour fighting compounds. They suppress further cancer growth and spread.

Enokitake has antioxidants that rid the body of free radicals hence boosting the immune system. The Enoki mushroom impacted greatly in test treatments of lymphoma and prostate cancer. The Enokitake mushroom also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. They help to balance the immune system and to keep the liver healthy.

The Enoki is able to fight against diseases of degenerative sicknesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. It also has anti-inflammatory substances that help lower the risk of heart diseases.

Enoki mushrooms has to be cooked in at least 100 degrees of heat for 20 consecutive minutes.

BunashimejiMushroomsBunaShimeji Mushrooms – another medicinal kind and also very tasty. I usually buy them in Whole Foods Market and make various recipes. They are delicious in soups and go well with other vegetables.

Shimeji have tumors fighting properties. Shimeji mushrooms can also help diabetes, asthma and certain allergies by enhancing the immune system and boosting its healing capabilities.

Shimeji mushrooms have meaty taste. Their texture is firm. These mushrooms are used in preparation of soups and stir fried dishes. These mushrooms are also ideal for casseroles. It is important to cook these mushrooms before serving them. Raw shimeji mushrooms have a bitter taste. Cooked shimeji mushrooms are flavourful. It is best to use Shimeji mushrooms in combination with other vegetables because they are rich in Umami compounds. Umami compounds are known for enhancing the flavour of food.

My recent creation – Balanced delicious dish with BunaShimeji and oyster mushrooms, black soy beans, leek, and quinoa – Enjoy!

Bunashimeji Oyster Leek Beans Quinoa

 

Summer Fruit and Vegetables

cherriesSummer is a wonderful season with long days and lots of sunshine. We like to spend more time outside – walking along the beach or park, playing summer sports or watching our kids play, swimming or watching others swim, and eating outdoors either at our backyards, balconies or forest preserves picnic areas.
Our body needs food to cool off when it is hot outside. No wonder we like to have fresh salads, cold summer soups. Out of sudden long cooked dishes lose their attraction. We enjoy raw fruit and berries. They are delicious and ripe with the abundance of sun.
The color of vegetables also shifted to more bright warm colors like yellow, red and all in between.
It is time for fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, cherries, sour cherries.
It is time for summer fruits – watermelon, peaches, apricots, and plums.

We enjoy newly harvested vegetables – radishes, carrots, daikon, and beets.
Red color is dominant 🙂 though green vegetables are always good for you. Green vegetables help keep our diet balanced and not to overload on glucose which could be tough on our liver.

Because we naturally get more sugar from summer vegetables, berries and fruits, our body is craving pungent even bitter taste to balance it out.
Radish, daikon, arugula, dandelion, and ginger are great veggies to keep us healthy while we indulge ourselves with sugary freshly grown summer produce.

Summer food is sweet. Most of the recipes are raw or quickly cooked.

Corn on the cob takes 5-7 minutes to cook. Corn
Cucumber zucchini Polenta soup takes 10 minute to cook. cucumber soup
Red Cabbage, Daikon pressed salad takes 10 minutes to prepare (plus 1 hour under press) pressed salad

Health Tip** The higher the temperature that food is cooked, the longer it stays in your gut and the more difficult it becomes for your digestive mechanisms to digest it.

Love Your Liver

Why should I love my liver?

Liver is the most important organ after the heart.  It performs hundreds of essential functions :Cranberry Apple Dessert

  • Liver stores and regulates blood. It is responsible for circulation and nourishing every cell in our body.  Every part of the body depends on blood from the liver for nourishment and sustenance.
  • Liver helps the body to digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate toxic substances.
  • The amount of sugar in our blood is carefully controlled by the liver.
  • Liver is connected to proper eye function. Diseases involving the eye are closely related to a liver imbalance.
  • Liver also regulates emotional and mental state. A healthy liver ensures patience, endurance and the ability to maintain a strong spiritual center.

How does my liver communicate to me that it is not nourished? 

When the liver is overworked or under pressure, it generates too much heat within itself. One might feel hot and sweat excessively. When there is heat in the liver, the eyes are likely to be bloodshot, or feel a painful or burning sensation. When the liver blood is deficient, you might experience blurry vision, color blindness or dry eyes.

If liver is stagnant, we feel down or even depressed; it is hard to get started in the morning. Liver is responsible for anger. People with tired liver are quick to anger and have so called “short fuse”.

A weak liver expresses itself in deep insecurity, irritability, frustration, anger, excitability, and stubbornness.
Sometimes we can read right on our face if our liver is too tight – it manifests by deep vertical lines from nose going up between the brows.

How can you love your liver?

Get good night sleep

Liver likes to have a good night sleep on empty stomach. Liver rests and rejuvenate between 1:00 am and 3:00 am. In order to nourish your liver, it is best to go to bed no later than 11:00 pm. It gives you 2 hours to get to the stage of deep sleeping.

Do not eat late at night

Eat your last meat by 7:00 pm. Late night dinners, especially with hard to digest foods like meat and chicken, will send our liver to work most of the night. You might find yourself tired when you wake up in the morning and not willing to get out of the bed. Your mood in the morning also could be not the brightest.
Torah tells us that it has to pass 6 hour after eating meat before one can eat dairy. 6 hours is time it takes to digest meat.

Eat healthy and do not overeat

Eat plenty of organic vegetables and beans. Add complex carbs to your daily menu ( whole grains ).  Minimize consumption of processed food, fruits, honey and sugar which contain 50% of fructose. Just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat. So eating fructose is really like eating fat—it just gets stored in your fat cells. Healthy liver can process no more than 25 grams of sugar a day.

Liver likes sour taste – lemons, Granny Smith apples, cranberry, sour cherries. If you crave sour taste, that might be your liver is talking to you.

GrannySmithcranberries lemons

In return, your nourished liver gives you bright happy energized mornings; handles your stressful situations; maintains fit body, radiant young-looking skin, healthy eyes, nails, and well-circulated, oxygen-rich blood.

Your liver would be happy if you chose this dessert to complete your early dinner 🙂

Cranberry Apple Dessert