Mushrooms are an abundant crop all times of the year. Many varieties are cultivated, others are more seasonal such as the elegant chanterelle.

Mushroom nutrition benefits include providing numerous important vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

Mushrooms like maitake and shiitake provide much-needed vitamin D. When exposed to sunlight, mushrooms concentrate nearly 500 times more of this vitamin in their flesh.

Although most people think of mushrooms as vegetables (great for vegetarians), they’re in fact a type of beneficial fungus. The term “mushroom” refers to any macrofungus with a distinctive fruiting body large enough to be seen with the naked eye and picked by hand.

As of now, mushrooms constitute at least 14,000 different plant species — and perhaps many more. The number of mushroom species on the earth is estimated to be 140,000.

Although various types of mushrooms differ in terms of their exact calorie and nutrient count, in general they’re very low in carbohydrates, calories, fat, sodium and sugar.

Smoky Mushroom Tacos

Have you chatted with Barry at Far West Fungi? He’s the expert on all mushroom varieties and always willing to share creative ways to use them. He’s at Napa Valley farmers’ markets on Tuesday and Saturdays.

Olive oil

1/2 red onion

1 small orange or red bell pepper

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. cumin

2 cups baby portabella mushrooms, sliced, or large and diced

To serve:

Organic corn tortillas

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Avocado, sliced

Cilantro

cabbage or other greens

Salsa or hot sauce

Slice red onion and bell pepper into thin pieces. Warm olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and peppers and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Add a splash or two of water if the pan becomes dry. Add smoked paprika and cumin, and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add mushrooms, and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes until the mushrooms are nicely browned.

Heat corn tortillas in a dry pan over high heat until slightly charred on either side. Build your tacos with desired toppings.

Pinched for time eating healthy on the go? Napa culinary coach Karen Schuppert is offering “Salads in A Jar” class this summer, to include the mighty mushroom. Contact her at Karen@karenchuppert.com for details.

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