During the holiday season, I always think of mashed potatoes and gravy. Growing up in my house, this was one of the meal’s highlights and something we didn’t eat often.
It is one of my favorite hobbies to take traditionally unhealthy foods and make them functional and delicious. When you look at store-bought gravies, they tend to have undesirable ingredients like modified corn starch, natural flavors, milk fat, and animal fat. This easy mushroom gravy is delicious and contains functional foods, especially if you use a variety of mushrooms. You can easily use anytype of mushroom you can find, however, if you choose mushrooms with medicinal benefits, you can take your gravy from delicious to delicious and functional!
Maitake is relatively easy to find, can help with stabilizing blood sugar and improve digestion. Due to its SX-fraction, a compound named due to its ability to counteract the effects of syndrome X, Maitake has the potential to reduce blood glucose levels, reduce blood pressure, and acts as an adaptogen.
Chaga may not be on your grocery store’s shelf, but you can find it in lots of other places. This mushroom powerhouse can help lower inflammation, promote healthy hair and skin, and help protect your immunity. Chaga contains more superoxide dismutase (SOD), zinc, and melatonin than any other single natural source.
Lion’s Mane (LM) has been used in TCM for treating stomach and digestive problems. Preliminary studies show that Lion’s Mane is gastroprotective because it promotes ulcer protection by significantly reducing the ulcer area; it exhibited notable protection activity against gastric mucosal injury (leaky gut) by preventing the depletion of antioxidant enzymes. Additionally, Lion’s Mane can repair and regenerate neurons in the body resulting in improved overall cognitive function. It is said that LM can reverse and mitigate the impact of neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, due to its ability to stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor proteins.
Image from curativemushrooms.com
Shiitake may be a bit more familiar to you than the rest of these options, yet it is still a healing powerhouse. Medicinal uses of shiitake go back as far as 100 AD in China; it was used to treat and prevent upper respiratory diseases, boost circulation, increase energy, decrease fatigues, and as a “chi” enhancing elixir. Containing seven of the nine essential amino acids, essential enzymes, minerals including magnesium and potassium, and vitamins like B and D, shiitake is touted as a superfood. It can also help lower cholesterol, improve blood circulation, support the cardiovascular system, has immunomodulating abilities, supports liver health, and is anti-inflammatory and antiviral. A 2015 study with fifty-two healthy males and females aged 21-41 years participated in a 4-week parallel study consuming 5 or 10 g of shiitake mushrooms daily. Both groups demonstrated improved immunity, measured by enhanced cell proliferation and activation and increased sIgA production. The changes in cytokine and serum CRP levels suggest that these improvements occurred due to the reduction in inflammation. In a 2019 non-human animal study, shiitake consumption increased the abundance of specific strains of good bacteria and improved dyslipidemia; you may recall that we talked about the impact of dysbiosis and antifungals on high cholesterol.
Turkey Tail is another shroom containing polysaccharides and triterpenes, providing immunomodulating properties, immune support, and regulation. What makes it special are two unique beta-glucans, (PSK) and (PSP). PSK is well known for its anticancer properties, while both PSK and PSP demonstrate the ability to regenerate white blood cells necessary to fight infections and stimulate the activity and creation of T-cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells, enabling the immune system to ward off and destroy pathogens. o far, PSK has been studied more than PSP.
Reishi is known as the queen of all mushrooms due to its ability to revitalize the entire body. Historically, it was considered a “miracle elixir” and was reserved for use only by emperors and other royalty in China. Ancient scroll paintings depicted it as the “bridge between Earth and Heaven.” Benefits of this shroom include boosting the immune system to protect against pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Supposedly, one can witness the impact of reversed aging both mentally and physically when regularly consuming this superfood. Reishi can reduce dermal oxidation that causes wrinkles or other signs of aging, protect your cellular DNA and mitochondria from oxidant damage. The polysaccharides found in this mushroom have been accredited with lowering blood pressure, stabilizing blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, and inhibiting tumor growth in some cancers. One benefit that separates Reishi from the pack is the ability to achieve hormonal balance. The specific triterpene compounds in the fruiting bodies support and balance the endocrine system. When our hormones are in check, your body can find its way to “rest and digest,” allowing you to recover at night via improved sleep. When it comes to the gut, Reishi can directly impact Candida overgrowth. Researchers found that Reishi inhibits the formation of candida biofilms in the body. Biofilms are densely packed communities of cells adhered to a surface that are intrinsically resistant to conventional antifungal therapeutics (pharmaceuticals), the host immune system, and other environmental factors. This resistance makes biofilm-associated infections a significant clinical challenge.
If you aren’t feeling adventurous or don’t have access to unique mushrooms, whatever you find at the store will make a great gravy.
- 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 2 cups chopped mixed mushrooms (if using dried mushrooms, hydrate them first)
- 1 cup flour (for gluten free use brown rice, chickpea, teff, or another gf flour. You can find a few options here.)
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut aminos
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 Tablespoon kudzu or arrowroot mixed in 4 Tablespoons cool water
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté the onion and mushrooms until softened, about 10 minutes.
- In a saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute your flour of choice on low heat to make a roux. Stir in 2 cups of water
- Add in herbs and coconut aminos sauté for another 3-5 minutes.
- Add in vegetable broth and stir.
- Add in the mushrooms and onions.
- Place the mixture in a high-speed blender and process until you have a creamy texture. If you prefer to have larger pieces of mushrooms and onions, set aside a portion of the mixture and stir it in after the base is smooth.
- Return the gravy to the pan, add in the kudzu mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- If you want to change the consistency, you can always add in more vegetable broth.
Pro tip: I find that the broth is better the next day, so I always like to make it ahead of time.
If you aren’t familiar, kudzu is a plant that can be turned into root starch that is great at a thickening agent. This plant is a great way to make gluten-free recipes and improve digestion. Kudzu is a common ingredient in macrobiotics and has been used medicinally for over 2000 years in Eastern medicine. Some of the conditions it has been used to address include fevers, acute dysentery, diarrhea, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hangovers, and more.
What are your favorite kinds of mushrooms? Comment below.