There is nothing better than seeing an ingredient we can really get behind increase in popularity. That's why we were thrilled when mushrooms became the food of 2019. But what makes now the moment for mushrooms, and what does this mean for you? Here, we explain why it's a great thing that mushrooms are the buzziest food of the year.
Not Just a Side: Mushroom-Forward Recipes Are on the Rise
Mushrooms are a dream ingredient for herbivores and carnivores looking to eat more produce. They're full of flavor, satisfying, and versatile. As more people move toward a plant-forward diet, mushrooms are also moving—from the side of the plate to the center. A trend to look for and try this year is using mushrooms as a substitute for meat. Perhaps the best known example of this is the James Beard Foundation's Blended Burger Project, which encourages cooks to reduce meat consumption and enjoy tastier burgers by using a blend of mushrooms and meat in patties. With restaurants all over the U.S. participating, the buzz for the blended burger is on the rise; college cafeterias have embraced it and even fast food chains (Sonic Burger added a blended burger to their menu last year!).
Going beyond the usual button, Portobello, and cremini varieties is the other main trend in mushroom recipes this year. Sales of specialty mushrooms, such as oyster and maitake, were up 19.5 percent according to the most recent report from IRI/Freshlook marketing research.
They're Healthy and They Taste Good
It isn't often that healthy and delicious appear in the same sentence, but when talking about mushrooms the two words really do go hand in hand. "Few foods offer the versatility and nutritional benefits of mushrooms. The umami-filled fungi is a source of powerful nutrients, low in calories, fat and cholesterol free, and very low in sodium." says Mushroom Council nutrition researcher Mary Jo Feeney.
Beyond the Plate: The Healing Powers of Mushrooms
The wellness community has long embraced the potential power of mushrooms such as reishi, cordyceps, and Lion's Mane. Each type is said to have different properties, but some of the overarching themes are potential benefits to mental health, anti-cancer properties, and their ability to boost the immune system. The trendiest way to try these mushrooms is as powders and tinctures added to tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Enhanced beverages easily incorporate mushrooms into a routine and help cover up their flavor. These mushrooms are bitter and should only be taken in small quantities. Keep an eye out at your local coffee shop for these popular concoctions or order from companies like Four Sigmatics to bring them into your home.
Now is the time to explore mushrooms, whether you choose to make them the center of your plate, the highlight of your diet, or an enhancement in your tea, mushrooms are increasing in visibility this year.