#MushroomMakeover - Week One Recap (Day 8)

This post is one of several as part of the Mushroom Council's 30-day weight loss challenge called the #MushroomMakeover. I am being financially compensated for my participation as an ambassador for this program but the opinions and anecdotes posted are my own.

Wow. The first week is over already? I can hardly believe it. I started the Mushroom Makeover Challenge just last Monday but I have definitely learned a lot more about myself than I thought I would. I posted last week about what the program was about but in short, it's a 30-day challenge sponsored by the Mushroom Council and hosted by Mamavation for 15 bloggers to replace at least 4 of their meals' meat with mushrooms. I love mushrooms so I was more than happy to be a part but then I started learning more about their nutritional value, their overall health benefits, and creative ways to use them. We also have the lovely guidance of an oh-so-helpful dietitian, Corinne Dobbas, and a personal trainer, Mark Segedie, who both have meal and workout plans ready for us!

So what's been happening so far? It's called a weight loss challenge, right? I weighed myself at the start of the program and want to track that progress weekly. Bodily measurements, I'll be checking at the end of the 30 days to see where they've gone. For Week 1, I'm actually quite happy to say that my weight stayed exactly the same to the tenth of a pound. Why am I not disappointed in that? Well, with the workout plan in place, I know for sure that I have been building muscle back in my body and muscle "weighs more," as in it is denser than fat. If I'm regaining muscle mass but my weight hasn't changed, I must have lost weight somewhere (is my logic right? haha). I'd say that's pretty good considering that a sore throat came on Friday afternoon and I had to miss that day's workout! Aside from the exercising, a good food regimen helps manage the weight, and having mushrooms fill me up just the same as meat does while taking in less calories is a major bonus. I've got my mushroom meals posted after the jump!

Now, I have always been a fan of mushrooms growing up, probably because I love the umami in them. If you're unfamiliar with that word, it indicates a taste (like sweet, salty, bitter, or sour) that may be best defined as savory. Meat has it. Cheese has it. Mushrooms have it! Whenever we had vegetarian days of observance, my mother would replace typical meat dishes with mushrooms because they have that meaty, heavy quality to them. Shiitakes were a favorite to use. My first #MushroomMakeover involved a spin on a rustic risotto-like dish that would have had sausage. I've made it before with sausage but this time decided to replace that with some gorgeous Blue-foots I found at the Hollywood Farmers' Market. Since the ones I use are a little rarer to find, I would suggest you use fresh Shiitakes for this Farro with Mushrooms and Kale plate. I used minimal herbs in this, only rubbed sage and rosemary. The rest of the lovely flavors came out from the mushrooms and kale themselves. Also, I love farro because not only is it nutritious but it has a fun, slightly nutty flavor to it.

I have a tendency to go a little overboard when I visit farmers' markets in that I can't stop myself from spending. Vendors who accept credit cards actually make it much too much easier for me to break away from my protective measures. I try to only withdraw a budgeted amount in cash to spend but if they have the ability to swipe credit cards, it's over for me! Anyhow, I bring this up because the next meal I made over with mushrooms used just about all farmers' market ingredients and therefore conjured up a fresh, local plate that was both elegant and comfort food. I found perfect yellow-footed Chanterelles from the reputable mushroom vendor but recommend anyone trying this recipe out to crisp up some small oyster mushrooms for a similar dish! This Smoky Spinach Papperdelle with Mushrooms and Burrata was not "made over" so much as it was created to highlight the beauty of mushrooms. It took some creative thinking but I think it was a powerhouse of a dish when completed! Arrange the ingredients after cooking as you see fit.

Ingredients & Directions (yields 4 servings)

  • 16 oz fresh spinach pappardelle - heat with sauteed shallot & smoked olive oil
  • 4 oz fresh burrata - torn and scattered
  • 1 cup (about 6-8 oz) yellow-footed chanterelles or oyster mushrooms - crisp up in a skillet with olive oil and halved garlic bulbs
  • 2 bunches spinach - barely wilted
  • smoked alderwood sea salt, to taste
  • freshly cracked rainbow peppercorns, to taste

Now I can't leave out the part about what else I have been doing during this time period that is different from before. I not only have adopted and am following the workout plan that they have for us but I have also tried my best to change my diet almost completely. This involves definitely eating more healthful foods and being mindful of what I put into my body. The only unfortunate part of this all has been the massive huge meal preparation cooking "fests" I've had to have at Duc's apartment. I then lug everything in Pyrex containers back home to stick in my parents' fridge to pull from throughout the week. It's a big stressful, I'll give it that. Preplanning meals that far in advance is difficult when my mom loves cooking and having me eat her food too! Anyhow, I noticed that we were definitely in the mindset of replacing meats with mushrooms but seafood didn't cross our minds. A treasure of a find, Lion's Mane, revealed that scallops and lobster could be mimicked. I say treasure because it's not too common or cost-efficient of a mushroom to purchase so please use the stems of king oyster mushrooms yourselves if you want to make this Paprika Scallops with Shallots and Imitation Crab plate which definitely fulfilled my need for seafood. I really enjoyed having these two with a bit of brown rice on the side. Yum.

Then of course, when people think of replacing meat with mushrooms, their minds might stray to the common restaurant version of this - the giant Portobello for a burger patty. So we had to try it out ourselves and found some stunning specimen at the Hollywood Farmers' Market as well. What you can't see in this picture but you will later when the recipe gets posted is that I removed the stem on this Portobello Burger, spread a spicy garlic spread on the entire underside except for the center, and cracked an egg into that middle section before roasting it. What resulted was a fried egg stuck to the underside of the mushroom with spicy garlic in between the whites and Portobello. Then we sliced some fresh tomatoes and ripped up Duc's homegrown kale to stack between whole wheat thin buns. Talk about tasty!

As for this upcoming week's worth of meals, I snagged some pretty sweet deals on mushrooms typically used in Asian cuisines like enoki, oysters, and beech mushrooms so I'm excited to start exploring Asian dishes to replace meat in! For this past week, I may have used wild mushrooms but strongly recommend that you only use those too if you are getting them from a reputable and trustworthy vendor. Some wild mushrooms can look like others that are potentially harmful. The Mushroom Council has this to say about wild mushrooms: "Some mushroom lovers enjoy searching the woods for prized wild varieties of mushrooms such as morels, truffles and chanterelles. Because there are thousands of varieties of inedible and poisonous mushrooms, it's important to never eat wild mushrooms without the guidance of a trained mycologist or mushroom expert. Poisonous mushrooms often resemble non-poisonous mushrooms so it's best to purchase commercially grown mushrooms. If you want to try wild varieties, be sure you only eat those purchased from a trusted retailer or served in a restaurant."

Oh and the workouts are supposed to get a little harder this week, I believe. Let's hope I can fight this cold/sore throat off and get into exercise mode again! Time to burn off these fooding pounds, hah!

This post is one of several as part of the Mushroom Council's 30-day weight loss challenge called the #MushroomMakeover. I am being financially compensated for my participation as an ambassador for this program but the opinions and anecdotes posted are my own.