Mushrooms are generally segmented into two categories: the kind you toss in stir-frys and the kind college kids trip out on. However, there is a third category of mushrooms that falls in between. This family of adaptogenic fungi far surpass the health benefits of the humble white button variety, but they are also legal and do not induce any hallucinogenic effects. Tero Isokauppila of Four Sigmatic, the company that popularized mushroom coffee, is on a mission to promote wellness by spreading the mushroom message. His new book, "Healing Mushrooms’ Culinary Guide to Adaptogenic Mushrooms," makes mushrooms accessible to the masses as a complete 101 guide on the feel-good 'shrooms.
Isokauppila packs a lot into this work; however, the book itself is kept to a non-intimidating length (no encyclopedia volumes here). The chapters are broken down into digestible segments. The reader can skip right to the recipes or take some time to learn about the foundation of Isokauppila’s work. Those that opt for the latter option will enjoy a light-hearted and pleasant read about his life growing up on a Finnish farm, his discovery of mushrooms as powerful natural healers, and the challenges he has faced in bringing mushrooms into the mainstream. Although scientific, the book is far from boring; even the most detailed portions remain engaging and relevant to the non-scientific mind. It truly is a fun, educational read.
Besides the recipes, perhaps the most helpful chapter is “Meet the Mushrooms.” Isokauppila breaks down the top ten healing mushrooms, the “powerhouse players” amongst the 1.5 million species in the fungi kingdom. From calming reishi, to energizing cordyceps, the chapter details the specific health-promoting effects of each variety. The writing is extremely user friendly, as the benefits are listed in bullets directly under the mushroom. Those who wish to go deeper can read on to learn about the mushroom’s history, as well as discover specific examples that support the wellness claims. Each section has an “In Action” and “Fun Fact” boxed paragraph. “In Action” involves a a short story of Isokauppila’s personal experience with that mushroom, and “Fun Fact” delivers a random statement that could be quite useful during your next trivia night. Here’s a quick tip: Lion’s Mane (yes, that’s a mushroom) can improve memory and concentration. So, if you’ve been feeling a bit foggy, sharpen your mind by adding lion’s mane into your diet (both powdered extract and whole form are available).
A culinary guide is not complete without recipes. The “Mushroom Magic in the Kitchen” chapter thoroughly delivers, including fifty recipes from beginner to advanced that highlight the ten fungi varieties earlier discussed. The recipes are grouped together into categories that address some of the most common health issues. For example, there are recipes to reduce chronic inflammation, regulate blood pressure, promote gut health, increase sports performance, and more. To our delight, there is also a section on “Next Level Desserts.” Don’t be too appalled by the thought of shroomy sweets. We tried the Cordyceps Raw Vegan Cheesecake and experienced complete, indulgent bliss. A few other recipes we loved were the Raw Pizza, Chocolate Avocado Turkey Tail Mousse (that's a mushroom, not bird feathers), Chaga Chai, Raw Vegan Sushi, and Vegetarian “Clam” Chowder. The variety of recipes is impressive; Isokaupplia included multiple options for every appetite, diet, and skill level. There are hearty, stick-to-your-ribs dishes, lighter dishes, raw, vegan, paleo, and gluten-free dishes. Bonus: Isokauppila developed several cocktail recipes, like Cordysex on the Beach...there’s a reason he’s known as the Funguy.
Once the reader has learned about the benefits of these mushrooms and how to use them in the kitchen, it is necessary to know where to find them. To address this issue, Isokauppila concludes the book with a helpful shopper’s guide, which includes online resources that carry these specific fungi varieties. Some, like oyster and shiitake, can be found at your local natural foods store or farmers market, but ask for a variety like tremella at the supermarket, and you’re likely to get a blank stare back from that teenage employee. Consult the shopper’s guide of trusted resources, and you can avoid driving store-to-store searching in vain for just one key ingredient.
Everyone can benefit from this book, from the fungi junkies to the formerly mushroom-adverse. Its inclusive, step-by-step approach makes it an easy read, and the content can drastically improve one’s health. Copies are now available online and at major book retailers. Sit down with some mushroom coffee and learn how you can take your wellness to the next level with these super 'shrooms.
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