Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Mushrooms

Mushrooms, like some of our other Healthy Ingredients of the Week, often get a bad reputation.  Due to their light color, and the fact that they are, in fact, a fungus, mushrooms are often dismissed as having little nutritional value.  However, the rule of “the lighter the vegetable, the lower the nutritional content” does not apply here:  mushrooms are actually a low-calorie nutritional powerhouse that should really be a dieter’s best friend.  They are extremely low in calories (once cup contains only 20!), and high in B vitamins (which help the body convert calories to energy), potassium (which can help lower blood pressure), and selenium (a powerful antioxidant).  Mushrooms can add “meat” to any dish without the calories or saturated fat of actual meat.  In the summer, I am a fan of putting Portobello mushrooms on the grill and serving them up like burgers.  This recipe makes a Portobello burger even better by adding pizza toppings.

Portobello Pizza Burgers

Ingredients
4 medium Portobello mushroom caps (each should be about the size of a burger)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 springs fresh oregano, chopped (or 3 pinches dried)
Crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
½ cup pizza or marinara sauce
½ cup sliced smoked mozzarella or sharp provolone cheese
4 whole wheat round rolls, split and toasted

Instructions
1.  Wash Portobello caps with a damp paper towel.  Pat dry.
2.  Combine olive oil, vinegar, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes in a shallow bowl.  Brush each mushroom liberally with this mixture.
3.  Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat.  Cook mushroom caps, 6 minutes on each side, starting top-side up and flipping to cap-side down.
4.  Drain off excess juice that accumulates in mushroom caps.
5.  Heat pizza/marinara sauce in a small pan on low heat.
6.  Top each cap with sauce and cheese.  Place one Portobello pizzas on each roll. 

Adapted from Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals Veggie Meals.  Lake Isle Press, Inc. 2001.

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