Found growing in moist forests on the decaying trunks of fallen trees, Shiitake mushrooms have been an important medicine and food source in Asia for thousands of years. These "flower mushrooms” are used to support a healthy immune system and are frequently eaten during an occasional bout of seasonal sniffles. They're also really delicious, with a nice meaty texture. Food is medicine, right?
The stories say that a thousand years ago, a farmer decided to score a moist log and then packed wild Shiitakes into the notched wood. To his happy surprise, the inoculation was successful and soon whole mushrooms grew from the trunk, making Shiitakes one of the first cultivated fungi. These much beloved mushrooms can be taken as an extract, tea, or in capsule form. They're also commonly used in cooking and can be easily reconstituted to use in soups, stir-fries, curries, and sautés, or powdered and used in gravies.
Recipe: Shiitake Miso Ginger Soup
Oh, the miracle of fermentation! Miso is a traditional Japanese fermented soy or rice paste that offers savory deliciousness. Its healing power is often compared to good old chicken soup – especially when paired with garlic, ginger, onion, and shiitake mushrooms. I love to sip this soup, sniffles or not! This is an easy, rustic recipe that can be adjusted to your taste with additional herbs and veggies.
2-3 inch fresh organic ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 head of roasted garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
5 to 10 raw garlic cloves, chopped (depending on how medicinal you need it to be)
½ cup organic miso paste
½ organic onion, chopped
2 organic carrots, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
fresh cracked pepper to taste
In a stock pot, sauté ginger and onion in butter until the onion just begins to sweat. Add the raw garlic, carrots, and 1.5 quarts of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the shiitakes are fully reconstituted. Remove from heat and add miso paste, stirring until dissolved. Next, add the mashed roasted garlic. Stir well and ladle the soup into your favorite mug.
Recipe: Oregano & Thyme Garlic Bread
What’s a good soup without garlic toast? Oregano, thyme, and garlic are all well-known in folk medicine to support your immune system and ward off seasonal sicknesses. This is my favorite recipe to make when I’m coming down with a fever. Delicious smells fill the house and my forgotten appetite returns in no time.
2 slices of your favorite bread, (I like organic sprouted grain sourdough)
2 Tbsp organic olive oil or butter
1 tsp organic oregano
1 tsp organic thyme
3-4 cloves raw garlic, coarsely chopped
Mix the oil or butter, herbs, and garlic together in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture onto the bread, being sure to get as much garlic and herb as possible. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees until the bread becomes toasty and the garlic just starts to turn golden