Wild Mushrooms Make You Happy (and I don't mean the magic kind)

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Let's deal with the big fat elephant in the room. When I say "wild mushrooms" I am not talking about the ones you find under cow crap while sneaking around on some random farmer's land at 2am on a Saturday night. Not that I would know anything about that kind of bad behavior.

But I am talking about wild mushrooms, the kind you find in the woods when you are out actually looking for natural wild mushrooms. Or, in the organic produce aisle at your nearest grocery store, whichever is closer.

I don't mean the mushrooms that look like buttons and are probably grown in some dark basement like factory. I mean the fresh, beautiful, sometimes rare mushrooms. The ones that have weird scientific names that nobody really cares about unless they are in the forestry industry and feel it is their duty to inform (i.e. my husband).

I am talking about the edibles like Hen of the Woods, the Horn of Plenty, Oyster and Shitake mushrooms, to name a few. When you find these on your stroll through the woods (or the grocery store) it gives you a feeling of excitement. Like you have been treasure hunting for days and then all of a sudden your metal detector starts beeping off the charts. The beep is much stronger than when you hit on the bottle caps and nails filling your pockets. These mushrooms are the jackpot.

They are just that good. And they are good for you.

Eating wild mushrooms can improve your mental health and make you happy. No, really. They can help fight depression. This is because between 80 and 90 percent of the happy chemicals in our bodies (serotonin) are in our guts. Yep, only about ten percent of these happy chemicals come from the brain.

When people say they have a chemical imbalance, they are telling the truth. Only, most of the imbalance is in the stomach, not the brain. I know what you are thinking. What do mushrooms have to do with this? Well, mushrooms act like a probiotic. This means they promote the healthy bacteria in your system, not the evil, menacing bad bacteria that makes us inflate with gas like a balloon only to let out all that gas at inappropriate times. Not that I would know about that either.

By promoting healthy bacteria in our guts, the serotonin happy chemicals are excreted, making us well, happier.

Mushrooms such as shitake have been studied by a bunch of smart people using a variety of methods and it was found they can improve immunity, prevent blood pressure from rising and improve cell function in the body. That's one powerful shroom.

The maitake mushroom, or hen of the woods, is a medicinal mushroom. It is a stress buster. The less stress you have, the happier you are. This mushroom has super powers. It is an antioxidant with vitamins b and c. It also has iron, zinc, potassium, amino acids and fiber.

So, I bet you are wondering how get these game changers. There are several ways.

1. If you are not into actual mushroom hunting, you can buy quality mushroom powder online. I suggest a product like Sacred 7 Organic Mushroom Extract Powder that uses 100% Organic Whole fruiting bodies of the mushrooms.

You only need one to two teaspoons a day. Using mushrooms this way is so easy, you just sprinkle over food, in soup or mix in a tea.

2. You can also order organic dried mushrooms like these whole varieties from D'allesandro. Dried mushrooms are easy to use in cooking. When you soak dried mushrooms in water for about ten or fifteen minutes, they bounce back to their original form. It's amazing.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, of course.

One Pot Garlic Butter Parmesan Mushroom Pasta

3. Head to your local farmer's market. There is usually one booth that has a long line and a few coolers sitting around. The mushroom man in your area will be glad to show you his prizes inside those coolers. The fresh mushrooms are totally worth the extra cost.

4. Get out there in the forest and pick your own fresh mushrooms. BUT, make sure you know what your picking. Many mushrooms have evil twins and it can get tricky. If you don't happen to have a husband who is iin the field of forestry, you can borrow mine. No, really, please I need a break from learning about the outdoors. Just kidding, I will keep him for now.

What you can do, however, is get a book about edible mushrooms. We have this book, North American Mushrooms: A Field Guide. This is a great book because it covers all of North America. It is also a good idea to have a field guide of edible mushrooms in your local area. Check with your local Department of Conservation Resources. They should be able to recommend a good book or they may already have a guide created for your area.

So, go get happy on wild mushrooms...but not the magic kind.

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