A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a dinner which was being held to officially launch the Australian Mushroom Growers Association annual conference and also to mark the national launch of the mushroom industry’s “Mushrooms go Pink” campaign. The dinner was held in the “Graduates Restaurant”, the restaurant run by South Australian TAFE in order to give all of their hospitality students first-hand experience on the front lines. The food, decor and service was perfect and a credit to the students and their teachers – and a credit to the mushroom industry too, whom I discovered are continuing a 27 year association with TAFE and it’s students.
However, that’s not all I discovered. While being simply delicious, mushrooms are also becoming known as one of natures nutritional powerhouses as ongoing research finds out more about them every year. We know already that one serve of delicious mushrooms provides over 20% of the recommended daily intake for each of the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, and the minerals selenium and copper. We also know that they are the only non-animal food to have natural vitamin D, are very low in kilojoules while being energy dense and research reveals that they are filling and dampen the appetite at subsequent meals. But wait – there’s more!
Current, ongoing research is beginning to unveil even more about this super-food – especially it’s role in the prevention of cancer. Since 2006 there have been successive research results published, both here and internationally, indicating that there is a very real link between the consumption of mushrooms and an significantly decreased risk of breast cancer. Extracts from mushrooms have been found to suppress aromatase activity and oestrogen biosynthesis. Oestrogen plays a major role in both the development and proliferation of breast cancer, so suppressing this activity has the potential to reduce the risk. There is now also further evidence to suggest that polysaccharides in mushrooms may actually activate immune cells to attack cancer cells. While increased consumption may offer increased protection, one study found that women eating as little as 10g or more of mushrooms each day had a 66% reduced risk of breast cancer. Needless to say, I’ve upped our mushroom consumption since that evening.
In Australia, 2680 women die from breast cancer each year. That is over seven every day of the year. In October mushroom growers are pleased to be able to show their public support for the fight against breast cancer, through the Mushrooms Go Pink in October promotion. The promotion will see mushrooms throughout Australia packed in bright pink packaging in order to attract consumer attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Cancer Council’s Pink Ribbon Day on Monday 22 October. Australia’s mushroom growers are particularly passionate about this promotion and through it aim to raise $50,000 to support Cancer Council work in relation to breast cancer.
So – next time you are doing the shopping, keep your eyes open for mushrooms in the distinctive pink packaging and help support further research into this very promising area. In order to encourage you to go out and buy some “Pink” mushrooms, I’m sharing a very simple, but extraordinarily tasty treat that I put together to feed starving teens during the holidays. Really, this can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it. I sometimes make my own dough, but sometimes buy it too, if there is any in the store, or you could buy some bread mix and use that – whatever. This bacony, cheesey, mushroomy carb hit is designed to appeal to teenaged boys especially and it will freeze for later reheating.
Bacon and Mushroom Focaccia
- Pre-made yeast pizza dough
- 500 gms strong bakers flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 sachet of instant yeast 8 gms
- 200 mls milk
- 120 mls water
- 50 mls good olive oil
- 300 gms mushrooms sliced
- 4 rashers bacon chopped
- 1 cup grated tasty cheese
- 4 spring onions chopped
- 2 tsp dried oregano I use the imported Italian kind, or my own fresh from the garden
- 50 mls olive oil
- Whisk flour, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl.
- Heat milk and water to blood temperature and add, with oil, to flour.
- Mix all together until combined in a rough dough.
- Cover and stand for ½ hr.
- Give it a very quick knead, cover again for 1 hour or until doubled.
- Roll out into a large rectangle, roughly 50x40 cms.
- Cut in half and place half the dough on a greased shallow baking tray.
- Preheat oven to 220C.
- Heat oil in fry pan, add bacon and spring onions, saute until bacon crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen towel.
- Add mushrooms to same oil and saute until soft and cooked, sprinkle with oregano, add pepper to taste. Cool.
- Sprinkle base of focaccia on the baking dish with the grated cheese, then sprinkle remaining ingredients over evenly.
- Gently cover with other half of dough and pinch edges together.
- Dimple top of dough with your knuckle, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from baking pan and cool on rack.