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Vegetarian Weight Loss Foods: Portobello Mushrooms

portobello mushrooms

Welcome to a new series called Vegetarian Weight Loss Foods. I will be regularly introducing a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan foods that can be a part of your weight loss efforts. The first food to be covered is one of my favorites, Portobello mushrooms.


Why vegetarian weight loss foods
In a recent University of Oxford study published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, the authors summarized the main findings from numerous studies of vegetarians and reported that “Vegetarians have a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity,” as well as lower risks for diabetes, diverticular disease, and cataracts. Other studies have indicated that a vegetarian diet can help with successful weight loss.

For those who want to switch to a vegetarian diet, who have been dabbling with it, or who want to include more vegetarian foods on their menu, I hope this series of articles will be helpful. I will cover items from A to Z, avocadoes to zucchini, but not necessarily in alphabetical order!

Although I will focus on weight loss, not all of the foods to be discussed will be low in calories. However, in those cases, I will talk about how to incorporate these nutritious vegetarian foods into a weight-loss plan. Just because something isn’t low calorie doesn’t mean you should ban it from your plate!

Portobello mushrooms
I was eating Portobello mushrooms for years before I knew they were the mature version of the common crimini or button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). While the little fungi are still on my fav list, the Portobello edges toward the top.

As I see it, there are four reasons why Portobello mushrooms are a great vegetarian food. Feel free to let me know if you can add any more to the list!

1. Portobellos are a super meat alternative. If you have ever had a grilled Portobello on a bun with all the fixings, then you know what I mean. True, this big fungi doesn’t pack the protein of a beef burger, but it does have a firm (even meaty?) texture and is absolutely delicious hot off the grill or out of the broiler.

Another way to use the Portobello as a meat alternative is to dice it up and use it in meatless chili, tacos, burritos, pasta sauce, and soups. Cut the mushroom into strips, saute them with garlic, soy sauce, and/or mustard (all low-cal), and serve them over brown rice, couscous, barley, or quinoa.

You also can stuff a grilled Portobello with sauted veggies and/or your favorite grain. Top with a sprinkle of chopped nuts or veggie cheese shreds and you have a tasty, low-calorie treat.

2. Portobellos are low in calories. One cup (86 grams) of diced Portobello mushrooms is only 22 calories. You could eat three cups of these mushrooms for less than 90 calories! If you are looking for a weight loss snack, several cups of steamed or grilled Portobello strips seasoned with herbs, mustard, soy sauce, or dipped in fresh salsa would make a great low-cal snack or side dish.

3. Portobellos provide good nutritents. Just one cup of mushrooms gives you 2.2 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber, and more than 10 %Daily Value of riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B5, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium.

Portobellos may also provide vitamin D. However, the amount depends on how much exposure to ultraviolet light they had during growing.

4. Portobellos are good for diabetes. The glycemic load for portobellos is 2. This makes them a perfect addition to the menu of anyone who has diabetes and/or who is trying to drop some extra pounds.

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As an added bonus, it's been reported that following a vegetarian diet could eliminate 75 percent of common chronic diseases.

How to buy and store Portobello mushrooms
If possible, buy organically grown mushrooms. Look for Portobellos that are unbruised and not slimy--but dirty is okay!

Once you get them home, remove them from packaging and store them in the refrigerator in a loosely closed paper bag and wrapped in a damp cloth. An alternative is to spread them on a glass dish and cover them with a damp cloth.

Avoid having the mushrooms on top of one another so they will stay fresher longer. If you want to layer the mushrooms, place a damp cloth between the layers. Never rinse portobellos; simply wipe them with a damp cloth.

All of these methods help preserve freshness and phytonutrient values. Portobellos so stored may stay fresh for up to 7 days, but if they begin to get hard or slimy, they should be added to your compost pile.

Portobello mushroom recipes
These two recipes are super simple and have just a few ingredients. The first one is a grilled/broiled Portobello mushroom that is perfect to use as a burger alternative or just by itself.

Grilled/broiled Portobello mushroom caps
4 large Portobello mushroom caps
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Destem the mushrooms (you can use the stems in another recipe or toss them into a salad), clean the caps with a damp cloth, and place in a glass dish stem side up. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, water, garlic, pepper flakes, olive oil, and oregano. Whisk briskly and drizzle it over the mushroom caps. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 60 minutes. Turn the mushrooms after 30 minutes.

Prepare your grill or broiler by lightly coating the rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Place the caps on the rack or pan and cook about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Baste the caps with the marinade at least once on each side. Enjoy!

Sauteed Portobello mushrooms
2 lb portobello mushroom, cut into strips
6 garlic cloves, minced (less if you are not a garlic fan like I am!)
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried rosemary

Destem the mushrooms (again, saving the stems), clean the caps, and slice them into ¼ inch wide strips. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the rosemary, mushroom strips, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute the strips until they are brown and then enjoy as suggested earlier in the article!

Also Read: Meet your mushrooms
Vegetarian diet could eliminate 75% of chronic disease
The DASH diet for vegetarians and vegans

Appleby PN, Key TJ. The long-term health of vegetarians and vegans. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2015 Dec 28: 1-7
Nutritiondata. Portobello mushrooms
The World’s Healthiest Foods. Mushrooms, crimini