It is natural for parents to be worried about foods that are potentially poisonous. You might be suspicious of mushrooms, for example, because dangerous varieties do exist in nature. Nonetheless, mushrooms are a relatively safe food, especially compared to other vegetables that can contain harmful bacteria. As long as you cook and store mushrooms safely, they make a delicious and healthy addition to almost any meal. Find preparations for mushrooms that your kids will love.
The good news is that, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, commercially cultivated mushrooms of all varieties are rarely associated with food poisoning. To be extra careful, store mushrooms in a cool, dark place, wash or rub them with a damp paper towel before using and always cook mushrooms thoroughly before serving them. For younger children, cut mushrooms small enough to avoid causing a choking hazard. Above all, never eat mushrooms that you picked in the wild, and warn your children about poison risks as well.
Maybe the biggest health benefit of mushrooms is what they don't contain: fat and cholesterol. Because of this, you can significantly increase the health value of any meal simply by substituting mushrooms for fatty foods, such as beef. Mushrooms contain vitamin D, potassium and iron, so you know that when you feed your kids mushrooms, you are supplying them with minerals that they need.
Mushroom Meal Ideas
Use mushrooms to make meals that your kids will love. Feature them prominently in a quiche or casserole, or put them on skewers with other vegetables and throw them on the barbecue. Grill portobello mushrooms with a bit of barbecue sauce to make healthy "burgers." Or skip the barbecue sauce and add a creamy ranch dressing. Put the mushrooms on a bun with lettuce, tomato and onion. Saute mushrooms and put them on a slice of bread for a delicious open-face sandwich.
Add mushrooms to meals for tasty and nutritious results. Sauteed mushrooms make a great addition to pastas and salads. Put cooked mushrooms on a pizza to add heft and taste. If your kids like homemade tomato sauce, throw in some mushrooms as you cook to add variety and nutrients. A quick stir-fry is made even better with the addition of a few mushrooms.
David Coodin began working as a writer in 2005, and has been published in "The Walrus." He contributes to various websites, writing primarily in the areas of education and art. Coodin holds a Ph.D. in English literature from York University in Toronto.