The first time I ate an entire pizza by myself was in seventh grade. Sheesh that is a sad sentence. It gets much happier, though! Many, many years after middle school, when I finally started to eat less processed food, one of the first things I noticed was the decrease in the amount of food I was actually eating. As the rich aroma of these creamy mushrooms wafted through the kitchen while I was cooking, I thought there’s no way this is enough for four people, I’m going to eat this all in one sitting. And then I served myself a heaping scoop, making sure to accidentally knock a few extra pieces onto the plate. But what happens next is something wonderful: I feel full before I’ve finished my serving. And I’m not talking about the “food baby” kind of full, I mean honest-to-goodness satiety. I don’t know why I continue to be pleasantly surprised by how genuinely satisfied I feel after a handful of bites of minimally processed and nutrient dense food1
The thing about appetite is it’s an intricately complicated process. Did you know there are nearly a dozen hormones that affect hunger? The cells that produce these hormones are located in several organs including the stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, and both the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract; and each of these hormones interacts with a variety of “regulation centers” in the brain to tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full.2 In addition, the sensing organs also send their own signals to the brain through the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue (for both taste and texture).3 When I eat highly processed foods, it feels as though my brain is being bombarded with so many clusters of contradicting signals that instead of wasting processing power, my brain throws up her hands and says look, I can’t figure out which ones are real, just put some food in your mouth and I’ll give you some of those feel-good endorphins. Eating “real food”, on the other hand, is like a lazy swing in the hammock for my brain. There are no distractions and I hear right away when my body says hey that’s good for now, that’s all I really need.
Remember the phrase perhaps made most famous by Spiderman’s uncle Ben: with great power comes great responsibility. The power, in this case, is knowledge of the science of eating. Those in charge of creating and marketing processed foods understand the complexity of this science but they do not choose to wield their power responsibly. The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food explores this subject and is such a great article I didn’t want to bury it in a footnote. It highlights the elaborate engineering undertaken to design the most profitable processed food. I won’t even be sad if you go read it now before moving on to the creamy goodness of these mushrooms.
Okay, are you back and feeling like a more informed consumer? Excellent! Now on to the recipe. Start with a variety of mushrooms, any kind will do. I had shiitake, button, and cremini. Slice the larger mushrooms into thin strips and quarter the smaller ones.
Have you ever looked closely at the underside of a mushroom? While you’re slicing and dicing, take a peek under a few mushroom skirts. Real food is stunning.
Heat one half tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add all sliced and chopped mushrooms to the pan with a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook for five minutes, until mushrooms are beginning to brown.
Remove mushrooms to bowl and let juices drain. Add shallot and garlic to skillet and cook over medium heat for about three minutes until soft.
Meanwhile, whisk together cream, flour, salt, and pepper. Once shallots and garlic are soft, pour cream mixture into skillet and let bubble for about one minute.
Once mixture has thickened (it will happen quickly) return mushrooms and their juices to the skillet and cook for about five minutes until mushrooms are hot. Serve immediately.
Below is your printable recipe with nutrition information included.
- 4 oz shiitake mushrooms
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms
- 8 oz button mushrooms
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- pinch of pepper
- Thinly slice shiitake mushrooms and chop cremini and button mushrooms into quarters. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat until water drops sizzle. Add all mushrooms and lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are beginning to brown.
- Transfer mushrooms to small bowl and reduce heat under skillet to medium. Add shallot and garlic, cook for 3 minutes or until softened.
- Whisk together cream, flour, salt, and pepper and pour cream mixture into skillet, bring to a boil and let bubble for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Once sauce has thickened, return mushrooms and their juices to pan. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until hot. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Marilyn Bentz-Crowley
The limits of my words are the limits of my world.
-Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-British philosopher
A 2010 study on how nutrient dense foods change perceptions of hunger, Nutrition Journal. ↩
Here’s a 2006 study that gives a brief overview of most of the hormones involved in appetite regulation, Archives of Diseases in Childhood. ↩
The Taste Science Laboratory. ↩