Mushrooms get an undeserved, but understandable, bad rap—eating a fungus with poisonous cousins isn’t the most appetizing idea. People often complain that the texture is off-putting, or that they aren't sure how to integrate mushrooms into their diets. Mushrooms don't have to be fancy, and you don't have to have an occasion to eat them. It's time mushrooms get a second chance. I’m here to show you why mushrooms are more than meets the eye, and that they should be one of your favorite foods.

Mushrooms: The Secret Superfood

Holly Park

The health benefits of mushrooms are often overlooked. They’re not only packed with fiber and protein, but are also low in fat, carbohydrates, and cholesterol, making them a staple in many plant-based diets. They also contain a number of important nutrients which promote bone strength and stable blood sugar levels.

Studies have found that regular consumption of certain types of mushrooms can boost your immune system, help with weight loss, and even lengthen your lifespan because of the antioxidants they contain. Mushrooms are a one-stop-shop for essential nutrients that will support your overall health and wellness.

Cooking With Mushrooms

Holly Park

Still not convinced? Just think of all the ways you can cook and eat mushrooms. Burger substitute? Grill up a Portobello. Risotto mix-in? Throw in criminis. Toast topping? Sauté some shiitakes. Mushrooms can be tossed into salads or put on pizza for an effortless addition, or they can be carefully cooked and plated alongside a perfectly-cooked steak for a creamy and delicious accent. 

Mushrooms add an umami undertone to any dish and can act as both a subtle side dish or as the star of the show. You also shouldn’t be scared of the preparation they require—you can eat many kinds raw and sautéing them requires minimal effort and cooking experience, but results in an impressive looking (and tasting) dish. 

Cooking For the Mushroom-averse

Holly Park

A common sentiment expressed amongst mushroom-haters is that the texture of cooked mushrooms is off-putting. This popular sentiment does not have to be the case—mushrooms can be prepared using so many methods that everyone is bound to find a way that satisfies their taste buds.

When cooking for my mushroom-averse friends, I’ve found that finely chopping mushrooms and putting them in whatever I’m preparing is the best way to circumvent the texture concern, yet preserve all the wonderful flavor and health benefits found in them. This strategy works well for dishes like lasagna or quesadillas and is the perfect way to begin introducing mushroom dishes to your friends.

Where to Get Mushrooms in the Bay Area

Annabelle Long

Looking for your mushroom fix in the Bay Area? Look no further than San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building, home to Far West Fungi, that sells more types of mushrooms than you’ve probably ever seen. They will definitely help satisfy any cravings you may be having for exotic fungi. You can purchase anything from a miniature mushroom farm, to a small box of mushrooms, to an enormous "chicken of the woods" mushroom that rivals the size of a basketball. Several mushroom varieties are also available at Berkeley’s very own Berkeley Student Food Collective, as well as at grocery stores everywhere.

Next time you're at the grocery store, keep an eye out for basic portobellos, shiitakes, or criminis—all common varieties that'll be a breeze to incorporate into your regular diet. Challenge yourself to find a mushroom dish you like, if you're not a fan of mushrooms, or experiment with bolder varieties, if you're already a mushroom enthusiast. So go ahead, eat mushrooms with every meal! They’re pretty magical, even in their non-psychedelic forms, and are a superfood that you never knew you needed.