Cancer-Fighting Mushrooms

Cancer-Fighting Mushrooms

Mushrooms. They add a burst of umami flavor, a gourmet touch and meaty weight to dishes, and they also pack an immune-boosting punch. While Eastern medicine has used mushrooms pharmaceutically for centuries, now Western research reveals that many mushrooms boast anti-cancer, anti-tumor and anti-microbial properties, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Although many medicinal mushroom species—maitake, lion’s mane, enoki and cloud mushrooms—aren’t always easy to find in the supermarket, the shining shiitake is sold fresh in most food stores. Shiitake mushrooms contain many ameliorative chemical compounds, including lentinan, which has been known to suppress leukemia cell proliferation. Shiitake mushrooms are also unique in that they contain all eight essential amino acids.

Whether mixed into your turkey burger or tossed on top, shiitake mushrooms are good for your meal and good for your health.

Mushroom Turkey Burgers 

Makes 6 servings

Enjoy both the flavor and the health benefits of shiitakes in and on these delicious mushroom turkey burgers.

  • 12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, divided
  • 1 medium onion, cut into about 4 chunks
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 packed tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey meat
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil spray
  • ½ cup water

1. Place half the mushrooms along with onion, garlic and rosemary into a food processor fitted with a standard S-blade. Process for about 1 minute or until puréed.

2. In a large bowl, mix processed vegetables, turkey, tamari and black pepper. Form 6 patties.

3. Preheat grill to high.

4. While grill is heating, thinly slice remaining mushrooms, including the stems. Spray a large nonstick pan with olive oil spray and heat on high for 1 min- ute. Reduce heat to medium and sauté mushrooms for 2 minutes. Add water, a tablespoon or two at a time, stirring occasionally. After the water cooks down, add a little more water, repeating until water is gone and mushrooms are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. Grill burgers 4 minutes per side. Serve on a bun, topped with sautéed mushrooms.

Per 1 burger and mushroom topping (without bun): Calories: 147; Fat: 6 g; Sat. Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 59 mg; Sodium: 119 mg; Carbohydrates: 7 g; Sugar: 4 g; Fiber: 1 g; Protein: 15 g.

Note: Some health food stores and groceries sell dried mushroom varieties such as maitake. For an extra nutritional boost, grind 2 to 4 ounces of dried mushrooms into a powder and mix in with the turkey meat in step 2.

Originally published in the Spring 2017 print edition