Mushrooms, with their earthy, umami flavor, dense chewiness, and culinary versatility, have long been used in cuisines all over the world—they’re a staple in the Japanese diet, in numerous European regions they serve as the center of recipes such as risotto and Chicken Marsala, and in the U.S. they’ve long been a popular star ingredient in dishes ranging from mushroom ragout to portobello burgers. Mushrooms have been such a longtime favorite there is even a mushroom-centric cookbook, titled “One Hundred Mushroom Recipes,” that dates back to 1899.
Recently, the other kind of mushroom—those with medicinal properties—have been attracting the attention of wellness communities so much so there is now a crop of new companies that sell blends and singular varieties of these “ancient”, healing mushrooms in accessible, on-trend manners: infused into chocolate, for example, in colorful, single-serving packages, and even in coffee. All of these products are readily available at health food stores. The mushrooms, when combined with ingredients like coffee and stevia, are convenient (you can easily throw a few packets in your bag) and, quite surprisingly, delicious (assuming you have a pallet that parallels your conscience).
So, is this another wellness hype, or should we pay attention?
Medicinal mushrooms have wide-ranging health and wellness properties—they can be beautifying, energizing, disease-fighting, and anti-inflammatory. Numerous brands also make mixed-mushroom concoctions now, i.e. beauty blends and energy blends—and they’re well worth a try. Depending on your tastes, it’s recommended that you experiment with various ways of incorporating the mushrooms into your diet.
If you don’t mind semi-bitter, and some very strange flavors, each can be taken plain. For those who cringe at the thought of consuming something that tastes a bit “off,” try the chocolates (or make your own!) or blend the mushroom powders with your morning coffee.