Archive for June, 2013

My Mother’s Mushrooms

Author: helga


My mother came to our Canadian farm from Germany. What she knew about wild plants was what she recognized from home.  Our land was abundant with mushrooms but my mother only allowed us to pick and eat one particular kind.  Now when I am surround by an abundance of mushrooms that is the only one I recognize as edible. I loved mushrooms as a child. If I found one mushroom in the woods I would bring it home and beg my mother to cook it. My only connection to the knowledge of what is growing in my back yard is through my mother who came from another country and was not at all familiar with what grows here. Apparently this is also the official mushroom of Alberta. Who knew?

As an adult I cooked the white mushrooms from the grocery store the same way my mother had (fried up in butter) but they didn’t taste the same. For years I thought there was something wrong with my cooking technique. Only when I tried Portabella mushrooms did I realize that it was the mushroom that made the difference, not the cooking. Portabella mushrooms have a flavour somewhat closer to that of wild mushrooms.

Mushrooms are an amazing wild food growing everywhere. We’re missing out on both the taste and nutrition. Because some of them are poisonous and knowledge is important we have dismissed them as a food source. Interesting that here we are in the age of information. Information on any subject is available to us from anywhere in the world and we do not understand what is safe for us to eat in our own backyard.

Hands on learning about what’s growing in our neighborhoods and forests is available through the Alberta Mycological Society.   They host many events every year where we have the opportunity for mushroom hunting and real life hands on learning.

If you have any interest in wild mushrooms at all, the Mushroom Exposition at the Devonian Gardens is worth going to. They provide a day of educational talks, displays of a multitude of local mushrooms, both edible and not.  Deliciously prepared samples are available as well. This year it’s held on Sunday August 18. Mark your calendar.

People might assume because mushrooms don’t look like vegetables they don’t’ have much nutrition, but this is not true at all.  Mushrooms contain protein and a significant assortment of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D.  Wild mushrooms have been used for their medicinal effects by traditional societies for thousands of years. I suspect there may still be many undiscovered health and medicinal effects. Especially since mushrooms differ so widely in their chemical characteristics.

Mushrooms are an important ingredient in today’s cancer research.  This  informative post by Jennifer Molnar talks about the biology and medical effects of mushrooms. I’m definitely  going to be adding more mushrooms to my food.



 I was thinking of cooking quinoa for breakfast hoping to add more protein to my diet.  While doing a little on line research I discovered that the oatmeal we’ve been cooking for years has more protein than quinoa. Quinoa is the trendy high protein grain.  No one is talking much about oatmeal. One cup of oatmeal has 11 grams of protein compared to 8 grams in a cup of quinoa.

And guess what – we don’t need to buy instant packets.  Plain old rolled oats can be cooked in the microwave just as easily as the instant oatmeal.  Put 1/3 cup of rolled oats with 2/3 cup of water in a big bowl (it tends to boil up) and microwave for 2-3 minutes and it’s done. Half an apple and some cinnamon is enough to give it flavour .I add a cut up apple with its skin for more fibre. A pear also adds lots of sweetness and a different flavour. If you like cinnamon, feel free to throw in as much as you can stand. Cinnamon has lots of great health benefits  as well.

The only thing to remember is two parts water to one part oatmeal. The rest can be improvised.  You can cook more or less depending on your appetite.  . Any type of dried fruit, nuts or seeds can be added for extra flavour and nutrition.

The fibre in less processed oatmeal makes us feel full sooner and longer. First bonus for anyone wanting to lose weight.  Fibre also helps regulate blood sugar.   When we eat a sugar or carbohydrate with lots of fibre it is digested more slowly and the sugar enters our bloodstream slowly. The body is able to use the energy and does not require large amounts of insulin to reduce blood sugar to a healthy level. This is the reason sugar in a raw apple affects the body differently than sugar in a glass of juice.

Oatmeal has protein, high fibre and is quick to cook. At my grocery store, No Name rolled oats prices out at $2.49 per kilogram. A kilogram of oatmeal takes a long time to eat. Organic rolled oats at $6.49 /kg and name brand instant oatmeal is $10.03/kg.  Instant oatmeal in handy packages comes in a very expensive box. There are more satisfying ways to spend our money.