Mushrooms must be just about the only vegetable that has so many varieties nestled under that one umbrella name – chestnut, portobello, morel, chanterelle, ceps, shitake, oyster, enochi, and any number of other varieties, native or exotic, increasingly available.

Mushrooms have been celebrated as powerfully nutritious for thousands of years, especially in far eastern cultures. What makes them so special is that although they are a vegetable, and contain all the nutrients commonly seen in fruit and veg, they also provide some that are more commonly found in meat, beans or grains, including those crucial to immunity and cell protection like selenium and  vitamin D. Fabulous to ensure those nutrients are topped up in your diet, and an essential for vegetarians. As one of the best food sources of vitamin D, try to eat them daily, particularly during the darker months.

As a very low calorie food (around 11 calories per 100g) mushrooms are great for bulking up meals, with their ‘meaty’ texture and umami taste making them satisfying too. So, what about giving mushrooms a more starring role? Portobello mushrooms are big, meaty and rich, a perfect substitute for meat if you wanted to have a couple of meat-free days a week, roasted with garlic, fresh thyme and a drizzle of oil. This recipe, though, sees them replacing your daily bread – as the summer hits its peak, get portobellos into your barbecue as burger buns. If you want to be even more virtuous, use chicken instead of red meat, and top with avocado and tomato slices. Who said burgers couldn’t be healthy?

Chicken and Mushroom Burger

4 Portabello mushrooms

2 tablespoons coconut or rapeseed oil

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked

slices of tomato

fresh spinach and watercress leaves

2 slices cooked turkey bacon, or bacon of choice (pref organic and nitrate/nitrite-free)

guacamole or avocado slices (or salsa, or other relish of choice)


Scoop out the gills and stem gently from the underside of the mushrooms. Heat the oil in a pan first, then cook the mushrooms for about 3-5 minutes on each side or until the mushrooms turn golden brown on the top and become tender. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, draining on kitchen paper. When drained, on one mushroom, pile on cooked chicken, turkey bacon, tomato, spinach, watercress, and guacamole. Top with the other mushroom. Repeat with other mushrooms. Then cut in half or eat whole, and enjoy. Messily!

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