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I hereby declare food of the week to be mushrooms. I love mushrooms. There are so many varieties and so much to say about these little fungi. They are delicious added to soups, salads, stir-frys, or sauteed up in butter or olive oil.

Recently, mushrooms have been getting a lot of press for their anti-cancer and potent immune boosting properties. Let’s look at shiitakes, one of the most popular types of medicinal mushrooms.

The shiitake, in all its glory

The shiitake, in all its glory

Shiitakes have a rich, earthy & smoky flavor and are prized for their superior health benefits. In light of all this H1N1 hoopla, supplementing your diet with extra antioxidant-rich and immune-boosting foods can help you ward off illness. Shiitakes fit the bill perfectly. They have been shown to shrink tumors, stimulate immune function, lower cholesterol, and reduce platelet aggregation (blood clotting). A mini powerhouse!

Other medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, maiitake, or cordyceps have similar benefits.
maitake, the hen of the woods. also a great immune-booster.

maitake, the hen of the woods. also a great immune-booster.

Use these mushrooms in cooking, or find at your natural foods store together as part of an immune building tincture or supplement. This is a great preventative measure to take during the winter. Or, try the below recipe to incorporate into your diet during this cold and flu season.

Shitake Mushroom Soup
1 1/2 cup Shitake Mushrooms
2 cups water or broth
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp miso
1 tsp tamari or mirin or sake

Put mushrooms ginger and water/broth in a pot an bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Remove 1/2 cup of water and mix with tamari and miso. Add back to general pot and serve topped with chopped chives. Sip this regularly, especially if you feel run-down.

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