Monday, October 26, 2009
Where else to start besides the food that is the most healthiest, most wonderfullest of all the foods on the planet: the Maitake Mushroom. (trans:Dancing Mushroom, Also known as the Hen of the Woods) These little bastards are so good for you, that I really don't know where to start. Lists always help in such situations:
i.) IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTING POWER! Without getting too technical, firstly, because I'm not a doctor, and secondly, because none of you really care that much, Maitake's contain Grifolan, which has been shown to boost your macrophages (immune system serious business whatnot) as well as D-fraction, which boosts cellular defenses. So, in simpler terms, they found people with cancer (lung, liver, breast, as well as stomach, lukemia, brain to a lesser degree), gave them maitakes, they got better. I mean, that's simple, but if you want to do more research, feel free to look it all up. On a related note, people with maitake extract magic also had less side effects from chemo. So, if any of you are planning on getting cancer, don't forget the maitakes.
ii.)type 2 diabetes! Okay, so as best as I can find, it's still a bit new in the researching area, but it seems that maitakes can make it so that insulin works better, for longer, in that they bring insulin resistance down, which means that your sensitivity to insulin is greater, which... well, talk to your doctor (also talk to your doctor about Turmeric, which I'll bring up later).
iii.) digestionary magics! cleaning your system is good for all of us. Since yer already busy fighting cancer, aiding your immune system, and battling diabetes, why not also work out some other things that may have been ailing you?
iv.) Awesome stuff, all in one place: B2: helps turn food into energy, also aids in red blood cell production (add that to the white blood cell boosting Maitake magic, and you're doing fine). D2: Needed for calcium absorption. Niacin, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and dietary fiber (as mentioned in iii.) are also all available here.
So the short version of all that: no cancer, diabetes help, lots of vitamins, and no trouble pooping.
WHAT TO DO WITH THEM:
So, you read all that (prolly just skimmed it) and you decided that you wanted your immune system running on all cylinders and that it was time for you to go invest in some Maitakes. Here's what you can do, and how to do it:
If you like the taste/texture of Maitakes, this is the best way to go. You can find them at a lot of good Asian markets as well as a large number of quality health food establishments. I'm not saying it's doable everywhere, but most health food stores that carry good organic produce should either carry them, or be able to track them down. Hopefully there's a place where you can buy them in smaller quantities, because a quarter pound of these goes a LONG way, and if yer buying them by the pound, you're going to either end up wasting them, or drying them, which is a great option I'll go over later.
There's a lot you can do with fresh Maitakes. I personally am not in love with the texture of them, though. They aren't anywhere near as delectable as my favorites (morels, chanterelles, shiitakes, or criminis) and the texture isn't really something I'm stoked on. If you are into the texture, and have played around with fresh cooking feel free to let me know the best way to do it. I'm going to have to go with my two fall back preparations: stir fry and soup.
With either option, I'm a big fan of cutting these things as small as possible, because I really can't get behind the texture. Then, you just work it out the same way you would any thing else (I'm going to just assume at this point you've made soup (water in pot with stuff, make hot) and stirfry (oil in pan with stuff, make hot). Sorry, I know I'm dropping the ball with a recipe here, and that's because I do it this way:
This is where I think these bad boys shine. I use a food dehydrator, but this can be done in the oven. Either way, you're going to slice the mushrooms thin, and try to keep them all about the same size, so you'll have them all dried at the same time. The rule with oven drying is low heat for a long time. My old roommate was a big fan of a low temp, WITH the oven door open, for eight or so hours. You can do it at a slightly higher than that temp (around 170) for a couple hours, flipping the mushrooms every hour or so. The food dehydrator will tell you how long in the manual or whatever, but with the oven ones, you want them as dry as possible without being blackened/burnt/crumbling when you look at them.
I'd recommend adding some other, tastier mushrooms to the dehydrating process. Shiitakes and criminis are cheaper, and also tasty.
Once your mushrooms are dry, put them in a food processor (you can get a salsa sized processor at Target or whatever for $15, they come in handy, make it happen) and get the mushroom mix to as small as you'd like. I make mine chunkier than powder, for sure, but pretty damn small. Place whatever you aren't going to eat immediately in a mason jar, where they will last damn near forever, and place the rest in a shaker that has a hole big enough for the pieces to get through. (you can also buy predried mushrooms, and grind them down)
Now you can really harness the power of the mushroom, mixed with the power of not wanting to deal with weird textures, or having to eat things with the worry that they're going to go bad before you get a chance. Any time I'm making a soup, or pasta sauce, or anything that includes bringing water to a boil (from rice to mashed potatoes to really anything you can think of) I grab my mushroom shaker, and pour a bunch in. I'd say at least five meals a week get the mushroom treatment, and it's a savory and healthy way to go. But if you REALLY can't handle mushrooms:
So, some people can't deal with mushrooms. It's cool, yer not all evolved and shit. It happens. For you weirdos, there's an answer. People got mushrooms and put them in pills. I don't take these, so I can't recommend any specifically, but they're out there, and they're probably good for you.
So there you have it. Everything I have to say about Maitakes. Well, I'm sure that's not true at all. I'm sure I'll actually revisit Maitakes all the time. I'm going to make a post in the next day or so with my recipe for my ultimate "FUCK THIS SICKNESS" soup, and Maitakes will sure as shit be an important part. But this is what I know for now. Hope it was educational for the three of you who don't just look at it and see TL/DR.