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Healthy mushrooms: Cooking and Nutrition Tips

ALTHOUGH WE ENJOY THE savory flavor and almost meaty texture of mushrooms, we don't give them much nutritional credit. But mushrooms actually provide several B vitamins, copper, potassium, and selenium. Some are even being studied for possible anti-cancer properties.

When shopping, choose firm, dry mushrooms. Store them in a paper bag in the refrigerator, but not in the crisper drawer, which can be too humid. To clean them, remove any dirt with a soft brush or rinse briefly. Do not soak them; mushrooms absorb water like sponges. Here are six of our favorites. Note: Because raw mushrooms contain small amounts of toxic hydrazines, which are destroyed by heat, it's better to eat them cooked.

1. Cremini, Portobello

Same mushroom variety at different stages of maturity. Taste like button mushrooms, but stronger. Saute alone or with other vegetables, or marinate and grill whole portobellos.

2. Maitake

Robust, woodsy flavor. Cook with other mushrooms to intensify their taste.

3. Shiitake

Rich, meaty flavor. Use in soups and stir-fries. (Remove the tough stems; use for broth.)

4. Oyster

Delicate, slightly briny flavor and tender, velvety texture. Serve with poultry and seafood.

5. Chanterelle

Flavor is mildly fruity or floral. Use in cream sauce and serve over toast, pasta, or polenta.

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