How This Fungus can Heal the Environment and our Bodies
mong the most misunderstood organisms on the planet is the mushroom. Sure, it’s a fungus, maybe not the most appealing specimen, and certainly not everyone’s favorite flavor, but it can save the environment, and your life too. The mushroom is a powerhouse for cleaning the environment. By breaking down organic matter in the forests, such as logs, leaves and stems, mushrooms recycle essential nutrients that are vital to the growth and survival of natural ecosystems. It has even been said that they purify the environment by eating up petroleum and other toxic pollutants. Mushrooms are undeniably healers for our world, and they can be for our bodies as well. Rich in protein, potassium and fiber, and not to mention low in fat, calories and carbs, they are a great addition to any diet. However, they are also packed with B Vitamins, Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Selenium and Calcium, giving them medicinal properties as well. Certified Holistic Wellness Counselor, Natural Food Chef and Cancer Survivor, Mia Stern swears by the therapeutic characteristics of mushrooms. Diagnosed with Breast Cancer at 41, Mia dedicated herself to learning everything she could about nutrition and the healing abilities of natural medicine.
Out of the 3,000 edible types of mushrooms, 700 have medicinal properties. In fact, the oldest known medical documents from China describe the Reishi Mushroom as being good for the heart, memory, intellect and longevity. With today’s technology, it has been found that the Reishi Mushroom’s bioactive molecules and polysaccharides activate our Natural Killer Cells, reducing Cancer Metastasis. Shiitake and Maitake Mushrooms have also been shown to lower the risk of cancer, strengthen the immune system, and boost heart health. For these reasons, mushrooms are the basis for many Chemotherapy drugs and antibiotics.
Mia discovered that when consuming these medicinal mushrooms that she noticed an increased vitality and inner strength. She states, “I believe [mushrooms] help me stay healthy, and support my immunity. I notice that when I am not taking them. I am not feeling as “vital,” or connected. With mushrooms, my thinking is clearer, more insightful.” After realizing how much better she felt when sticking to a natural and nutritious diet including mushrooms and many other healthy foods, she wanted to share her knowledge of health and wellness with others.
From this desire to seek out and learn all she can about foods that have been studied for healing, longevity and cancer prevention, came the idea for her brand new online school, Brooklyn Culinary Academy. Through her online courses, students will explore healthy food options and learn how to incorporate them into their diets in order to nourish and love their bodies. Upon graduation, the student will gain a Certificate as a Culinary Wellness Professional. Mia, excited about her new endeavor, says, “My kitchen is my favorite place! It has become my laboratory, my medicine cabinet, and a creative workplace. Nothing makes me feel as joyous as I do when I am sharing food and recipes.”
So, if mushrooms helped Mia through her battle with cancer so much that she was moved to encourage everyone to adopt a more plant-based diet, then it must be worth a try. “My advice to everyone who wants to improve their lives is to eat as many plants as you can,” Mia continues, “and you will see a huge improvement in weight loss, health, clarity of thought and personal inspiration.”
We were lucky enough to have Mia share one of her Brooklyn Culinary Academy recipes with us, of course including mushrooms! Try out her Creamy Mushroom Soup: Brooklyn Culinary Academy, www.brooklynculinary.com.
Creamy Mushroom Soup by Mia Stern
Mushroom veggie broth:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, rough chop
- 2 leeks wash them really well, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 large carrots, large chop
- 1 bunch parsley stems
- mushroom stems
- 6 cups water
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in rinsed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons ghee optional
- 1 large onion, fine dice
- 2 cloves garlic, fine dice
- 1 shallot fine dice
- 4 or 5 cups, mushrooms assorted, chopped thin (shiitake, maitake, crimini, oyster, king oyster, clamshell, chanterelle
- salt & pepper
- mushroom powders (reishi, chaga, cordyceps) 1 tsp each
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup mac nuts
- 1 1/2 tablespoons miso paste
- 1 cup water
- pinch salt and pepper
Begin by making your own veggie stock. This will take about 45 minutes-1 hour. If you are in a time crunch you can skip this step and use boxed organic veggies broth.
Add oil to a stock pot and sauté leeks and onions and garlic. Add carrots and mushrooms, sauté for about 10-12 minutes. Add water, salt, pepper, dried porcini, turmeric, sprigs of thyme, and parsley stems. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer, cover and cook for about 1 hour. Then drain away the vegetables and save the broth.
BEGINNING THE SOUP:
In another large stock pot, warm olive oil and add onions, shallots and garlic. Let this soften slightly for about 5 minutes on low.
Add about one teaspoon fresh thyme. Add the mushrooms and let them cook gently, about 8-10 minutes keeping the mushrooms from getting mashed or too soft. They should start to brown, and release their juices. Taste for salt and pepper.
At this point, you will add all of the stock you previously made. Stir together.
Scoop out about 1 cup of broth add this to your blender and blend it together with the nuts and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric fresh or ground powder, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, and mushroom powders.
- 1/4 cup flat leaf Italian parsley
- 1/4 baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup olive oil
- salt & pepper
Add all ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine, mesh sieve. Drizzle this on top of the mushroom soup.