Marinara Out, Mushrooms In!

Did you know eating whole wheat grains boosts your metabolism? Make the switch to whole wheat pasta for a happier tummy, and substitute your go-to marinara sauce for homegrown oyster mushroom sauce — you won’t be disappointed. Buon appetito! 

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Makes: 4 cups
Serves 2-3 people

IMG_0587

Ingredients:

– pasta

– tbsp olive oil

– 2 cups oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped

– 2 garlic cloves, minced

– 1 tsp fresh rosemary

– 1 tsp fresh thyme

– 1 cup spinach

– ¼ cup nutritional yeast

 

 

Directions

  1. Cook whole wheat pasta according to package. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and toss with 1 tsp of olive oil. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Once olive oil is hot, add mushrooms. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add cooked whole wheat pasta, nutritional yeast, and 3/4 cup of the pasta water. Toss until well coated. Add spinach and stir until it wilts. Add more pasta water if it is dry. Serve while hot!

IMG_0576 (1)

 

 

P.S. this dish is vegan, an easy weeknight dinner, and perfect for both cold and warm nights!

Continue Reading

National Cereal Day Recipe: Cocoa & Cinnamon Flakes Toast

It’s National Cereal Day! We’re celebrating America’s favorite breakfast with our friends from Peanut Butter & Co., and making a delicious cocoa and cinnamon flakes toast with creamy peanut butter! This easy (but heavenly) recipe is perfect for busy mornings or late night cravings. It’s fun, pretty, and tastes even better than it looks! Get creative with it — add extra toppings and share your best creation with us on Instagram! 😉

Cook time: 2 minutes
Serves: 1-2 people

Ingredients:IMG_0247
– 2 slices of sourdough bread (or bread of your choice)
– 1 1/2 tbsp of Peanut Butter & Co. (Smooth Operator or Dark Chocolate Dreams)
– 2 tbsp Organic Cocoa and Cinnamon Flakes

Additional toppings:

– Chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, coconut flakes, and anything else you want!

 

Directions:

1. Toast the bread until it’s nice and golden on top.
2. Spread peanut butter from Peanut Butter & Co. on top of toast.
3. Top with Cocoa Flakes and Cinnamon Flakes and any additional toppings of your choice!

Enjoy!

IMG_0284

IMG_0324

Continue Reading

Vegan Mushroom Gravy

It’s that time of year again… holiday feasts are upon us and we’re digging up our favorite recipes. This year, switch it up and surprise your guests with a dish that’s not just homemade, but homegrown! This delicious (and vegan!) Mushroom Gravy, features oyster mushrooms that you can grow in just 10 days. Add a hint of rosemary and thyme, and you’ll have the perfect savory gravy over garlic mashed potatoes or fluffy biscuits.

Disclaimer: They’ll never know it’s vegan, but it’ll definitely taste homegrown!

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Makes: 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • img_73062 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white onion, small dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz (~2 cups) oyster mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tsp thyme, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter

Directions:

  1. In a medium skillet on medium-high heat, add vegetable oil. Once oil is hot, add onion, garlic, mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Sauté for 10-12 minutes or until mushrooms have browned. They might stick to the bottom of the pan, don’t worry, you want that!
  2. Once the mushrooms have browned, carefully add the dry white wine and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated away. Stir in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat  and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and water. Pour the flour slurry into the gravy mixture and stir until nice and thick. Remove from heat and add 3 tbsp of vegan butter and stir until the butter is melted in. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve while hot over mashed potatoes or biscuits!

img_7367

Continue Reading

This Revolutionary Patent Might Just Take Down Monsanto

By Dylan Love

To many, it has long seemed hopeless that independent farmers could stand a chance under a Monsanto monopoly. Paul Stamets is a man with a plan: A David ready to fight the Monsanto Goliath. Except Stamets isn’t throwing stones; he’s growing mushrooms.

In 2006, Stamets obtained a patent that’s being hailed as revolutionary, with claims that it could undermine Monsanto’s grip on the farming industry.

Stamets is an eminent mycologist, a person who studies fungi and its uses. “Fungi are the grand recyclers of the planet,” he says in one media report. They have the potential to regenerate ecological systems and “re-green” the planet. Before taking on pesticides, he developed mycotechnology with petroleum-eating mushrooms that clean up oil spills.

SMART pesticides, a mycotechnology he successfully patented in 2006, wouldn’t just strike a blow to Monsanto — he suggests that using mycopesticides could fuel an ecological revolution, restoring and rehabilitating polluted ecological sites. So-called “SMART” pesticides work via “sporulation,” sprouting fungi in the insects that consume them. Once the first batch of insects dies, other pests are driven away from the area.

Without pesticide control, insects can ruin crops, destroying farmers’ livelihoods and causing produce shortages. So farmers both big and small rely on chemical pesticides for success when growing food in bulk. But the costs are massive: ground water pollution, the epidemic of dying bee populations, and numerous other problems mean that there are many more difficulties than conveniences to growing food successfully. California saw over 1,000 cases of pesticide poisoning a year in the time Stamets was developing his patent.

Stamets first discovered fungi’s insect repellent potential when his own home was infested with carpenter ants. Using mushrooms with entomopathogenic (insect-killing) properties, he found a solution to his home improvement issue. Saving the environment was an added bonus.

Monsanto’s domination has expanded the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides that they produce, like Bt and Roundup. The corporation encourages farmers to spray more chemicals  as insects and weeds become resistant, to the detriment of the global environment and our collective health.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Monsanto’s pesticide practices “fly in the face of established science and common-sense precautions…in favor of the company’s annual bottom line.”

SMART pesticides, on the other hand, provide an eco-friendly and natural solution, eliminating use of harmful chemicals and their negative side effects.

Most importantly, the SMART pesticides could cripple Monsanto’s monopoly on seeds – a monopoly built on their foundation of seeds  genetically engineered to withstand these strong chemical herbicides and pesticides. As they spread, farmers must conform to keep their crops. Now, all that could change.

Stamets’ SMART pesticides were called “the most disruptive technology” that the industry has ever witnessed by pesticide executives themselves. His discovery has the potential to completely alter the future of food with sustainable and non-destructive growing methods.

It’s also good for business — SMART pesticides could potentially free farmers stuck under Monsanto’s thumb, paying for genetically engineered seeds and pesticides. Stamet’s patent indicates that the mycopesticide fungi can be grown at home using agricultural waste, practically for free. For small business farmers, Stamets’ SMART pesticides could be the ticket to truly sustainable, organic and independent farming. Fungi may just hold the ticket to the future of farming.

Continue Reading

Purple Corn Exists (And It’s Really Good For You)

By Elena Sheppard

There is a place in Minnesota where the fields are literally filled with purple corn.

It’s not a joke.

Most of us have grown up eating white and yellow corn (corn on the cob, corn salad, canned corn), but we’re here to talk about purple corn and the surprising nutritional benefits packed within its kernels. Purple corn is more than just beautiful — though images of purple corn fields spreading across Minnesota certainly confirm it’s beauty — it’s actually brimming with more protein, fiber, and antioxidants than yellow corn. Sparknotes: Purple corn is very good for us.  

unspecified

Purple corn, though probably uncommon to most people in North America, is nothing new. South Americans have been using the natural dyes in purple corn for centuries and have been eating and drinking purple corn products for just as long; perhaps most famously in the traditional Peruvian fermented drink chicha morada.

These days, purple corn is no longer specific to Latin American countries, and is indeed becoming more and more popular in the United States, in large part because of the health benefits associated with it.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-10-45-40-pm

Research over the last decade or sohas cast a spotlight on just how good for us purple corn really is — many think it is well on its way to becoming a certified superfood. First and foremost, purple corn is rich in anthocyanins, flavonoids that are under the antioxidant umbrella. A study out of Ohio State University compared the effects of anthocyanins from different plants (purple grapes, purple corn, purple carrots) to see which had greater success reducing in vitro cancer growth. The anthocyanins from purple corn had the strongest effect against the cancer cells.

In addition to the anthocyanins, studies have also shown purple corn to be rich in anti-inflammatory capabilities; to potentially be able to help fight obesity; and to help cardiovascular health. Not to mention, purple corn has more protein and fiber than modern yellow corn.

unspecified-3

While there are many ways to enjoy purple corn — chips, breads, craft beer — Back to the Roots has a purple corn cereal that’s organic, delicious, and loaded with all of the purple corn benefits. Bring on the purple corn!

Continue Reading

Are Mushrooms Intelligent?

By Dylan Love

Mushrooms are fantastic little fungi with plenty of health benefits. They’re great for you, but they serve an even greater purpose in nature.

You might remember learning about mushrooms in high school biology, when you were introduced to the fungi kingdom. Mushroom bodies are made up of mycelia, which are structures composed of tiny spider web-like threads called hyphae. Think back to pictures of mold you may have seen when learning about this — up close, mycelia are simply a thick white or cream-colored network of interwoven fibers.

Mycelia are also the real stars of this story. According to fungi expert Paul Stamets, mycelia are highly intelligent structures. That’s right: intelligent.

They spread out and respawn, forming massive networks. Mycelia are made up of rigid cell walls, which allow them to move through soil and tough environments. They’re capable of breaking down structures in nature and holding up to 30 times their mass. Mycelia also extend the area in which the fungi they’re attached to can find water and nutrients. In fact, Stamets refers to mycelia as “extended stomachs, lungs, and neurological membranes.”

Most importantly, mycelia can attach themselves to the roots of plants, forming a symbiotic relationship with them. Fungi of this nature are known as mycorrhizal fungi (in a mycorrhizal relationship).

By attaching their mycelia to existing plant root systems, mycorrhizal fungi have created a massive underground neural network that plants and fungi use to communicate. Research shows that mycorrhizal fungi are compatible with about 90 percent of land plants.

So what does it mean for these structures to be connected?

According to Stamets, it literally means that “Earth’s natural internet” exists right beneath our feet. Think of this plant-fungi neural network in terms of how our human-created internet works.

Mycelia in fungi are capable of collecting intelligence and transmitting it to their corresponding plants and neighbors — whatever they’re connected to, really. This intelligence includes information about how to survive and fight disease, warnings about nearby dangers, and guidance in raising a host plant’s defenses. Mycelium also act as a kind of “mother” that allows the transfer of nutrients among interconnected plants.

A single cubic inch of soil can contain up to eight miles of mycelium cells. Quite literally, that’s a lot of ground to be covered, and a lot of intelligence to be shared.

Mycelia essentially extend a plant’s root system because the long, thread-like structures are particularly good at reaching out and capturing moisture and nutrients from soil. There’s plenty of surface area to collect nutrients from, which mycorrhizal fungi then share with the roots of the host plant, who in turn, share them with surrounding plants. Younger seedlings are able to get carbon from older donor trees — they literally help each other survive.

Remember the relationship between plants and fungi is a symbiotic one, so the fungus gets a little something out of it, too. In return for nutrients, plants provide fungi with photosynthesized nutrients (mostly sugars and carbohydrates) so they survive and thrive and the relationship can continue.

Continue Reading

Here’s What the Difference in Egg Yoke Color Means

By Dylan Love

Egg yolks have long been criticized as unhealthy in comparison to their counterpart, the beloved egg white. Until recently, the assessment was that their high cholesterol content was cause to eliminate eggs from one’s diet. But new research and dietary guidelines are challenging the perception that cholesterol contributes to heart disease. So say farewell to egg-white omelettes — the yolk is where the good stuff lives.

In your grocery store’s egg section, you’re confronted with a wall of cartons and adjectives. After picking white or brown, how do you choose between organic, free-range, pastured, grass-fed, farm-fresh, cage-free, and omega-3 eggs? Without these labels, could you even tell the difference?

The answer is yes, but you have to crack them open to do so.

Whether you prefer sunny-side up or scrambled, you probably want to see a perfectly golden-yellow yolk. Egg yolk colors are almost completely dependent on the diet of the hen that laid it (unlike shell color, which depends on the hen’s breed.)

Dark-orange yolk

Hens that produce deeply saturated orange yolks eat a natural diet that might resemble your own: kale, collard greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and more. These yolks are especially rich in xanthophylls and carotenoids like lutein, loaded with nutrients, and even antioxidants. While there’s no guarantee, you’re more likely to find these yolks in eggs produced by hens raised in a pasture or free-range, where they have more opportunities to eat pigmented foods.

Orange or golden-yellow yolk

When your yolk color resembles that of a clementine, you have carotenoids to thank. The hen’s diet was made up of yellow and orange plant material, like yellow corn and alfalfa meal, which contain nutritious xanthophylls pigments that are deposited in the yolk. Not only that — their color might contribute to your brain enjoying them more.

Pale or light-yellow yolk

Pale yolks result from a colorless diet. If a hen eats feed made from wheat, barley, or white cornmeal, they may produce yolks that are almost white. Natural yellow coloring may be added to this type of feed to enhancethe yolks, turning them lemon-colored.

Red or pink yolk

Blood-orange, red, or pink yolks can come from hens that eat a lot of red pepper, but they are found most often in South America, where chickens feed on annatto seeds. And if you find just a speck of red in a yolk, it doesn’t mean the egg was actually fertilized. It’s simply a blood vessel that ruptured during formation. If the egg whites are pink, however, you ought to beware: your egg is rotting.

Green yolk

You have cooked your eggs. When left to boil a little too long, your yolks turns green as a result of iron in the boiling water interacting with the sulfur in the eggs. The good news? Green, like other colors, has no implications on the health benefits of an egg — sulfur is just another healthy nutrient found in yolks.

…..

The crucial benefits of egg yolks are their macronutrients — like protein and healthy fats — which are relatively the same in all yolks, regardless of color. However, evidence is growing that pasture-raised hens produce healthier eggs that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E. So the next time you fry up an egg to start your day, look for a deep-orange yolk to really kick things off right!

Continue Reading