This week’s theme food for our family has been mushrooms! With the air becoming more brisk, the earthiness of these little bite-size morsels tend to call out to my taste buds. And when I made the declaration earlier this week to my husband, “I’m really into mushrooms lately!”, he knew a health benefit was on the tip of my tongue. And so there was…
Edible & medicinal mushrooms have many benefits. They’re most known to support and improve the health of your immune system. From allergies and common colds, to immune-modulation and cancer treatments, medicinal mushrooms already have much research to back up their benefits.
However, what especially piqued my interest this week was their benefit for the immune system in our ‘gut’. For years, I’ve worked at improving patients’ gastrointestinal (GI) well-being. One of the ways I look at gut health (and immune function), is through a test called salivary Secretory IgA (SIgA). (Read more about GI Tract & Adrenal testing, including secretory IgA, here: http://www.diagnostechs.com/Pages/TestPanels.aspx.)
SIgA is an antibody that is produced in the GI tract & influences your protection against harmful microbes. Higher levels of SIgA in the gut has been shown to reduce colds and flus. However, time and time again, I see this antibody at low levels (very low in some)! Finding solid, researched and proven ways to increase this antibody has been difficult at times.
And that’s where mushrooms come in! According to a 2011 study (see the abstract here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22113068), eating 100g of blanched Agaricus bisphorus (white button / cremini) mushrooms every day for 1 week, increased SIgA levels by 53%! In addition, there was a 56% increase the 2nd week, even though the mushrooms weren’t being eaten anymore!
So, while we are on the brink of cold and flu season, how amazing to have an additional immune boost from eating something as delicious as mushrooms!
For those less excited about ‘why’ it’s good for us, and just want to taste the soup…here’s the recipe (from the cookbook: “Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family” by Alissa Segersten & Tom Malterre):
Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, butter, or ghee
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 pound cremini mushrooms, chopped
5 cups water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock
few sprigs fresh thyme (pull the leaves from the stems)
few sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tsps Herbamare, or to taste
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour (optional)
Heat a 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the oil, then add onions; saute for 5 to 10 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, carrots, and mushrooms; saute for a few minutes more. Add water, herbs, pepper, and salt; cover and simmer for about 25-30 minutes.
Remove from heat and ladle some of the soup into a blender. Add cashews and sweet rice flour. Blend on high until smooth and creamy; transfer to a clean pot. Puree the remaining soup in batches (you can blend it for just a short time for more texture or longer for a smoother consistency).
Stir the soup together to mix cashew cream in with the rest of the blended batches. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings if necessary. Add more water for a thinner consistency. Simmer over low heat for a few minutes to meld the flavors. Garnish each bowl with sliced and sauteed mushrooms, chopped fresh parsley, and edible flowers.
Yield: 6 servings.
My personal recipe notes:
I decided to forego the cashews and rice flour in the recipe. Instead, I added organic firm tofu. I blended 1/2 of a small package of tofu with the soup, and cubed the other half. This provided a similar creaminess and added a punch of protein to make it more of a complete meal. One day we had it for leftovers and threw in some cooked brown rice to make it a little more hearty.
I also left a little less than half of the mushrooms and veggies whole (non-pureed). Once you blend 1/2 the soup, the creaminess really comes out. Leaving some whole mushrooms & veg gave it great texture and made it a little more substantial. (However, if you love the taste but not a mushroom fan per se, puree away!;)
Final note, use what herbs you’ve got on hand. I didn’t have fresh thyme sprigs, so I used fresh rosemary plus a blend of dried herbs (thyme, rosemary and basil combo, from Provence in fact!). The taste is amazing and you’ll be going back for more.
Want to learn more about your immune function; or interested in testing your gut, adrenals or immune function (as seen in the link above)? Call to make an appointment: 204-774-5521