Enhance your next meal with this delicious fungus.

Mushrooms are found in many shapes, sizes and forms across the globe. Historically, they have been praised for their ability to diversify many dishes. However, their nutritional benefits are still being researched.

Grocery shoppers in the U.S. see various forms of Agaricus bisporus, which is a mushroom native to North America and England. Depending on maturity, A. bisporus takes on more well-known names. The white button mushroom is actually a young portobello mushroom. While white buttons are portobellos harvested at an immature stage, crimini mushrooms (baby bellas) are harvested at intermediate stage of maturity. Mature portobellos are three to seven days older than criminis; they are known for their large size and concentrated flavor.

Mushrooms are commonly categorized with vegetables for dietary recommendations; however, mushrooms are not a vegetable based on their cellular organization and composition. By definition they might not sound overtly appealing — “aboveground fleshy fruiting body of a fungus.” Description aside, mushrooms are packed with flavor and benefits.

For thousands of years, cultures worldwide have applauded mushrooms’ health benefits. Mushrooms are celebrated as a source of powerful nutrients because they provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol free, gluten free and very low in sodium, yet they provide selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin D.

According to hieroglyphics of 4,600 years ago, ancient Egyptians believed mushrooms were the plant of immortality. Pharaohs decreed mushrooms as food for royalty, and no commoner could ever touch them.

Get creative with your next meal and add in sautéed, grilled or blended mushrooms. These healthy additions can complement a breakfast, lunch or dinner. The possibilities are endless.

Spelling conundrum

Is it portabella, portobella, portabello or portobello?

All spellings are used and correct. The Merriam- Webster dictionary uses “portobello,” while the Mushroom Council — based in California — has adopted “portabella.”

Need a Superfood recipe? Try one of these:

Salmon stuffed mushrooms

Mushroom and salmon kabobs

Mushroom and barley soup

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