In spring-summer my go-to lunch is a salad. Rarely the same one, often thrown together with last night’s left-overs or veggies and beans we prepped Sunday night. I love creating a pseudo-salad bar in my fridge where I can just reach in and throw different items together for lunch. Today’s lunch is an example of that. I had bought pomegranate arils for Twin A who put them in our cart at Trader Joe’s on Sunday but hasn’t “been in the mood” to eat them all week so not wanting them to spoil I threw them into our salad! Love the pop of color and crunch they provide plus the hint of sweetness. These little gems are known to be one of the oldest fruits, originally found in Persia. It has long been toted as a fruit very rich in antioxidants, nutrients and a symbol of vitality, fertility and health. A delicious add-on to today’s lunch!
I have always loved mushrooms and often pick them out of a stew or tomato sauce when no one is looking. I just love ‘em!! Portobellos though, were never a go-to thing. They were often the only vegan main dish item on the menu at restaurants (Portobello burger) and were often bland and not very tasty. It wasn’t until I started experimenting with marinades that I started to like them. I find they are best marinated and with their gills removed ahead of time, really transform these edible fungi. They make a great main dish, or can be thrown in with other veggies as a side dish, they are very portable, perfect to bring with you to throw on a friend’s grill. Portobellos are filling, very versatile taking on the flavor of your marinade and great to add more bulk to your salad.
Nutritionally, mushrooms stimulate the immune system, have high concentration of the micronutrient ergothioneine which is both anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant (though mushrooms need to be cooked to release this powerful nutrient). Another reason to include mushrooms in your salads or routine menu, they are high in fiber, vitamin B, selenium, iron, potassium (a 3 ounce Portobello cap has more potassium than a banana), low in fat, carbs and sodium. My final word on mushrooms is that they are one of the few foods that are aromatase inhibitors (along with pomegranates) or compounds that block the production of estrogen, and are thought to protect against breast cancer. 
So if you were like me, passing the Portobello mushrooms over on the burger menu, give them a shot. They are such a valuable item to include and check out the recipe below, it might change your mind on this type of mushie.
 Grube BJ, Eng ET, Kao YC, et al. White button mushroom phytochemicals inhibit aromatase activity and breast cancer cell proliferation. The Journal of nutrition 2001;131:3288-3293.
Pomegranate Baby Kale Salad with
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello mushrooms are thick and meaty, fantastic for plant-based eaters or those looking for a meat alternative to throw on the grill come barbeque season. Here we combine the mushrooms with some greens, a hint of sweetness and creamy avocado to make a light salad a little heartier.
2 Portobello mushrooms
1 (5-oz) bag baby kale, rinsed & dried
½ cup pomegranate arils
½ avocado, diced
Dressing & Mushroom Marinade
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp garlic clove, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- In a small bowl mix together the dressing and marinade.
- With a damp paper towel, gently clean the mushrooms and remove the stems. Gently remove the black gills on the inner center of the mushrooms. Place in a shallow bowl.
- Pour about a third of the dressing/marinade over the mushrooms and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour, tossing about half way through.
- Lightly spray non-stick frying pan with olive oil and heat grill-pan over medium-high heat or turn on your barbeque grill. Place the mushrooms into hot grill-pan of grill and cook for about 5 minutes. Flip the mushroom caps over and grill the other side for another 3-5 minutes, lowering the heat if needed. Remove mushrooms from heat and place on cutting board.
- Place rinsed baby kale into a large serving bowl.
- Dress the kale with remaining dressing.
- Stir in pomegranate arils and top with avocado pieces.
- Slice warm Portobello caps and place on top of salad.
Yields about 2-3 large servings or 3-4 side-servings.