What Could Replace Meat On Your Burger?

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What Could Replace Meat On Your Burger?
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What Could Replace Meat On Your Burger?

Mushrooms have always been a tasty veggie that can adorn salads, sauces and pastas alike, but can it make the leap to a mainstream main dish? Read on to learn more.

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Recently the Mushroom Council (which is, indeed, a real thing) gathered an array of chefs, scientists and nutrition researchers to discuss the mushroom’s potential for culinary greatness.

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Amy Myrdal Miller, a director of programs and culinary nutrition for the Culinary Institute of American attended the Mushroom Council’s event, where she exhibited her findings from a study she conducted on mushrooms.

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Miller believed that consumers could eat mushrooms as a healthier substitute for meat, but without costing flavor.

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With the help of Jean-Xavier Guinard, a researcher from the University of California, Davis, Miller tested her theory with 147 adults aged 18 to 65.

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The participants received eight samples of tacos, which were filled with varying quantities of meat and mushrooms.

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One taco was 100 percent beef while another was 20 percent beef and 80 percent mushroom. The other tacos were about 50 percent beef and 50 percent mushroom.

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Most of the participants enjoyed the 50/50 blend of mushroom and beef the most. They found the mushroom and beef blend just as satisfying as a real burger, and even more flavorful, according to Miller.

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These findings are promising because the nutritional profile of the mushroom is much healthier than that of beef. When combined, the mushroom-meat burger is about 24 percent lower in fat and the inclusion of mushrooms in any dish means vitamin D, potassium, antioxidants and B vitamins.

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Mushroom-beef burgers are also 27 percent cheaper than all-beef burgers, making them more economical.

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Bob Okura, the executive corporate chef and head of Culinary Development at The Cheesecake Factory recognized how mushrooms seem to contain their own umami, a flavor associated with the taste of meat. "Mushrooms seem to generate a natural umami reaction that makes everything in a dish taste even better than they do on their own," Okura told NPR.

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Okura went on to add a turkey mushroom burger to The Cheesecake Factory’s menu.

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According to Nancy Shute, mushrooms contain high levels of glutamate, which is where they derive their umami flavor.

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The Cheesecake Factory isn’t the only restaurant adding mushrooms into meat dishes. Richard Blais, a Top Chef alumnus, is the head of a few restaurants in Atlanta including Flip Burger Boutique, where he debuted his Earth & Turf made up of beef and mushrooms.

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At the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, California, Scott Samuel, a chef instructor there, created a roasted mushroom base that he combined with hamburger meat. His dish was presented at the World of Healthy Flavors conference where it was met with delight.

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Food services director for Cincinnati Public Schools, Jessica Shelly, has experienced success by adding an eighth of a cup of mushrooms to the school burger meat.

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Robert Rusan, who works as a chef at the Maplewood Richmond Heights school district in St. Louis anticipates that mushrooms will become trendier. He has included mushrooms in turkey and beef meatballs in addition to meatloaf at his schools.

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Rusan believes mushrooms will appear in dishes in more schools. "Mushrooms blend easily in meat mixtures because they have a meaty texture," he explains. "I anticipate more and more schools getting on board with using mushrooms, primarily because mushrooms are becoming trendier."

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Yale and Cornell also combine mushrooms and meat in their cafeterias.

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Sales of mushrooms have increased pretty consistently for the past few years. The Mushroom Council predicts sales will increase by 3.7 percent in 2013.

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There have been numerous studies that suggest eating meat isn't the healthiest choice.

With sales of meat declining due to its shifting reputation, both scientists and chefs think that the mushroom could make its mark as a main dish. The good news is that mushrooms seem versatile enough to take on the role of meat, but won't sacrifice flavor. Combining beef and mushroom into one burger makes a huge impact on both the nutrition and economics of a meal. Researchers and culinary experts alike are on the hunt for the perfect way to blend meat and mushroom into one delicious meal.

Check out the slideshow above to learn more about how mushrooms could revolutionize burgers.

More from Kitchen Daily:
Your Guide to Mushrooms
The 10 Best Leafy Greens
Vegetarian Cuisine is a lot Older than you Think

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