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Learn to Love: Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms, aside from the phrase being my new favorite expletive substitute (it is up there with dang and crud), are fast becoming known as a new super food. Since they have been used medicinally in Asia for over 6,000 years, I'd really have to admit their status as a super food is "new" to me. And possibly you, too?

Did you know that they contain protein? I, for one had no idea that 8 ounces of shiitakes contain almost 5 grams of protein. Although mushrooms are often treated like veggies, they are a fungus and have no roots, leaves, flowers or seeds. Shiitakes contain lentinan and L-ergothioneine. If you have never heard of those substances before, neither had I, since they don't come up all that often in casual conversation. Lentinan helps bolster the immune system, strengthening its ability to fight infection and disease. That is why this compound is being researched for its ability to fight cancer and AIDS. Some researches think it might even help with allergies. L-ergothioneine is a powerful antioxidant, which fortunately is not destroyed when the mushrooms are cooked.

Shiitakes make a great addition to stir-fries. I enjoy them sautéed with asparagus and ginger. Or you might enjoy them, like YumSugar does, on a mushroom pizza. Since these mushrooms are becoming increasingly popular, they are easy to find in most grocery stores. If you can't find them there, you should try an Asian market.

Learn to love them - they are good for you and tasty!!!

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