Giant Puffball Mushroom Pizza

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If you’re avoiding processed grains/flours or lowering your carbs, or none of the above and just love mindblowing unique food, you’re going to want to try this giant puffball mushroom pizza. Calvatia gigantea is a white, round mushroom commonly found in meadows, fields, and deciduous forests all over the world, and hence the name they can get rather large. The ones pictured here were found on September 10th, 2018 in Wisconsin. While there aren’t a lot of studies on the medicinal benefits, they do contain powerful polysaccharides and have been found to inhibit lung cancer cells. 

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Mushrooms kind of excite me.

If you’re new to wild mushroom hunting be sure you properly identify and don’t confuse them with something like earthballs, which are toxic. These fungi have a soft, bread-like texture so you can use them to make anything you might normally make bread with. French toast is on the menu for tomorrow!

Now get this- the crust of this pizza is made from the thinly sliced puffball mushroom, then it’s topped with FIVE other wild gourmet mushrooms! Obviously most people won’t have access to a crazy amount of different mushroom species, but all you really need to make this pizza is the puffballs.  Throw on your favorite toppings and make it your own, such as onions, peppers, olives, button mushrooms from the store, or pepperoni.

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Some of the other mushroom species included on the pizza, picked just the day before the puffballs

First, I carefully cut them into a round 1 inch thick slice. Then they were pan-fried in a cast iron pan on both sides for about 5 minutes and seasoned with olive oil and Himalayan salt.

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Next, onto the pizza pan. I topped mine with Italian seasonings and pizza sauce, sautéed hedgehog mushrooms, porcini, chicken of the woods, and yellow legged chanterelles, then organic shredded cheese.

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Bake your pizza at 425 for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is just starting to turn golden brown. These crusts will be soft, not crunchy. Enjoy!!

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Thanks for visiting!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

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My Experience with the Train Wrecker

31589824_10102096509660343_782335860698775552_nA fairly uncommon but interesting Pheasant Back mushroom (cerioporus squamosus) look-alike, Neolentinus lepidius, is commonly known as the Train Wrecker. From afar, the earth-toned feathered patterning on the cap may have you convinced you’ve spotted a Pheasant Back. It’s had me momentarily confused! Once you get closer you’ll notice the distinct differences, beginning with the observation that this mushroom has gills, where a pheasant back has pores. Where pheasant backs have a distinctive cucumber/watermelon scent, the train wrecker has a very pleasant, fresh anise aroma to it. Neolentinus lepidius also has a tough, ringed stem with scales that match that of the cap.

I tend to find that in Wisconsin the Train Wreckers fruit as Pheasant Backs are finishing up their spring season, but you still may find them side by side in the same habitat. The two specimens seen above were growing about 15 feet apart in Outagamie county the first week of June.

This fungi prefers pine, but gets its name from its fondness for old railroad ties and unbridled chaos. They are unlikely to cause train crashes today due to stronger chemicals being used on the wood to discourage fungal growth. Quite an impressive little mushroom, isn’t it?

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Photo credit: Rachael Young. Sheboygan, WI

Now I see quite a bit of contradictory opinions on whether or not it’s suitable for your dinner plate. It is considered to be edible, but very tough and not too pleasant. I do not find this mushroom in books often, so I also don’t have many opinions to go off of. Despite the fact that there are no recorded poisonings, it could easily contain hazardous chemicals if growing on treated wood so be cautious where you obtain it from if you plan on ingesting.

When I took this picture last year I wasn’t quite brave enough to try it, but when my spot fruits again this spring I certainly will be updating this article with my culinary experience (good or bad). Maybe with it being a cousin to shiitake I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Stay tuned!

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UPDATE: (June 3, 2018)

I was pleased to find a baby train wrecker fruiting today in this same spot, and we had the opportunity to taste it, fried up with butter and salt. We ate the caps only, as the stems are very tough.

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Is that a baby bump or did I eat too many mushrooms?

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My husband: “It tastes like every other mushroom I’ve ever had.”

Me: “It tastes like and has the texture of oysters!”

So, I must say, this fungi definitely is worth eating. Perhaps those who did not enjoy it had tasted specimens that were older and tougher. Either way, I enjoyed our experiment!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

 

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com – 920-327-2221

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

The Paleo Diet- It Isn’t What You Think It Is

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The Paleolithic period, also known as a part of the Stone Age, lasted 2.6 million years ago to about 12,000 years ago and has inspired many an idea of what your plate should look like today. The modern dietary theory called the “Paleo Diet” or “Caveman Diet” professes that ancient hunters/gatherers shared a certain diet during that period, and that diet is still essential for reclaiming our health in contemporary times. While there is variability in the way it is interpreted, the diet typically includes specific vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meat and excludes certain other vegetables, dairy, grains, legumes, certain oils, artificial ingredients, salt, & alcohol.

Now, my profession consists of telling people to eat vegetables. I’m not here to put down any diet that aims to do the same. I’ve been professionally trained in the modern Paleo diet, along with dozens of other dietary theories that I use with my clients. Any diet that says “just eat real food” is always going to point you in the direction of better health. But alas, I am an eternal “vegetable truther.” Where there is misinformation in the nutrition industry, I will seek to set the record straight. Do you follow the modern day “Paleo Diet?” Cool. Keep eating it. Just know it’s not actually Paleo. Many foods that are today being touted as being “paleo” did not even exist during the Paleolithic era. Many foods on the modern paleo diet “no” list were actually staples in a true, historically accurate Paleo diet. Don’t believe me? Keep reading. Are you interested in learning more about the real Paleo diet? Cool. Also keep reading.

Now the wonderful thing about any ancient, traditional diet is that there were no orthorexic rules that our society seems so obsessed with today- it was eat what nature provided, when nature provided it. A true paleo diet can best be described as “opportunistic omnivores.” I like that. Unfortunately today, that same term would translate to going to whatever McDonalds is closest to your house.

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Using today’s terminology we could describe a true paleo diet as organic (all food was organic until the 1940’s), non-GMO (genetically modified crops were not manufactured and introduced into our food supply until the 1980’s), whole, local, seasonal, and wild. There were no isolated synthetic vitamins and minerals to fortify with, no preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, MSG and synthetic flavor enhancers, pesticides, herbicides, etc.

Paleo people were more well-nourished and had less famine than the Neolithic and more agrarian cultures that followed them. They had a wider variety of natural foods and they were foragers, with no dependence on a small number of crops and cultivated foods like we do in modern times. I can personally harvest over 30 species of wild plants in the park in my suburban village- imagine how much more food a person would have had within arm’s reach back in that period of time.

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Although not quite old enough to be Paleolithic, Otzi the ice man gives us unique insight into what a diet looked like before most of our food was cultivated. As he lived near regions that we’ll be discussing and used most of the same methods to obtain his food, his diet likely would not vary much from a typical version of a true Paleolithic diet.

Otzi, the incredibly well-preserved iceman discovered in 1991, lived in the region that is now northern Italy, some 5,300 years ago. And his last meal consisted of… wild goat (Ibex) and Einkorn wheat.

Now wheat is an interesting one, as it’s been demonized by many different dietary theories today.

As a holistic nutritionist with Celiac disease, I understand better than most how damaging gluten-containing grains can be. However, I also understand that everybody’s bodies are dramatically different, one man’s poison may be another man’s food and vice versa. Unless I work with a client and find them to have a genuine wheat or gluten allergy or intolerance, I will not immediately rush to tell them to eliminate it. When we get into cutting out whole foods without any solid reason other than “I read about it in this book” or “this guy says it’s bad for everyone” or “this person punched this into a machine and the printout says I can’t eat it” then meal planning and eating becomes this stressful, confusing, frustrating, messy, overly-restricted and eventually despised regimen. Common sense gets thrown out the window too many times. Keep it simple.

But I digress.

In some people the culprit may not even be the wheat itself, but what’s been done to it. The modern wheat you get in stores today is not even remotely close to distant cousins like Einkorn. For my wheat-eating clients I recommend ancient, organic varieties of it such as Einkorn or spelt, in the unrefined, unmilled form.

The term Einkorn wheat refers to two different types- the wild form, triticum boeoticum, or the domesticated form, triticum monococcum. As records of domestication of wheat go back to just 8,650 to 7,950 BC, this clearly was not a part of the true Paleolithic diet. However, archaological evidence in Syria found that humans may have started harvesting this wild wheat around 30,000 years ago. That makes this wheat a very paleo treat. Triticum boeoticum has been traced back to pre-neolithic sites in Turkey and areas throughout northern Europe. It is a low-yielding grain, thus was eaten in small quantities. Wheat was eaten in the same way we’d eat it in its whole food form today- boiled in water whole or eaten as porridge, similar to how we make oatmeal today.

Compared to modern wheat, Einkorn has more protein, healthy fats, magnesium, b6, beta carotene, and potassium.

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wheat! it’s coming for you!

Anthropologists have found that proportions of foods consumed varied quite a bit. You tend to find that chillier areas are more meat-heavy out of necessity. The extra calories, fat, and warmth were needed to thrive in cold climates. When you were hungry, you hunted.

Certain areas have also been found to be far more plant-based, with very small amounts of meat. Other areas were higher in carbs, with tubers being a main staple. So a paleo diet did not necessarily mean lots of meat or low carb, either. It is estimated the average true Paleolithic diet consisted of 3.6-4.2 pounds of fruits and vegetables daily.

So lets compare. How does the modern “Paleo diet” stack up against the true historically accurate Paleo diet?

  • Dairy? The modern Paleo Diet says no. Is it truly Paleo? Yes! There is evidence that late paleo cultures most likely domesticated reindeer for their meat and dairy as early as 14,000 BC.
  • Against the grain? Now we know that the true paleo diet did indeed include grains. One variety of quinoa (chenopodium quinoa var. melanospermum) was believed to be in the ancient paleo diet. But since they were not cultivated they were not available in large quantities. Your plate reflected what you picked. Small servings.
  • Soy free? My research says yes, the paleo diet was devoid of soy.
  • Gluten free? Nope!
  • Sugar free? No! The true paleo diet embraced all fruits that were available to them.
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wild grapes would have been eaten during paleolithic times

  • Refined sugar free? Yes! Just say no to refined white sugar.
  • Vegan? No! At least not by choice. Opportunistic omnivores. However if the opportunity was not there or if you were a terrible hunter, you may be a temporary (and hangry) vegan.
  • Alcohol free? Probably. One archaeologist believes fermented wild grape wine traces back to 8,500 BC, which is not quite long enough ago to be considered Paleo. Unless they kept their magic spirits secret…
  • BACON! There is no evidence of pigs being eaten during Paleolithic times. Sorry. Bacon, pork, ham, etc are simply not true paleo foods.
  • Legumes? Legumes have been found in Paleolithic archaeobotanical findings in Kebara Cave, Israel and there are varieties that would have been consumed during the Paleo era including Fabaceaes like peas, vetch, and clover. Archaeological finds have found peas to be a part of the Paleolithic diet in Switzerland. Lentils have been traced back to the Greek diet as far as 11,000 BC, which puts it in that Paleo grey area. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that they could have been consumed around 12,000 BC, so we’ll label lentils as a “Paleo maybe-o.”
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vicia americana, American vetch

Foods you think are Paleo that really aren’t:

  • Bell peppers: these are a modern cultivar
  • Kale: came about around 300 BC
  • Broccoli: made from a kale predecessor in the 1500s
  • Cabbage (savoy): dates back to the 1500s
  • Kohlrabi: also from the 1500s
  • Brussels sprouts: first used in the 400’s, the modern cultivar you eat today came about in the 1200s
  • Cauliflower: bred in the 1300-1400s
  • Bananas: the bananas you eat today have been around for less than 200 years. If you lived in Papua New Guinea, you would have eaten banana cultivars beginning around 5000-8000 BC. But still not exactly paleo.
  • Apples: any that are not crabapples. This includes your honeycrisp, golden and red delicious, gala, braeburn, and so on.
  • Chicken: The chicken you’re eating today is a modernized hybrid of junglefowl and would not have been a component of a truly Paleo diet. The first records of the chicken you know and love today being eaten are from 600 BC.
  • Zucchini: this is a pretty new food- zucchini as you know it was developed in the second half of the 19th century in Italy. Summer squashes are native to Mexico and can be traced back to 7,000 to 5,500 BC, so would not have been part of the paleo diet in Europe.
  • Olive oil: Olives were not known to be picked until the Neolithic peoples, and archaeological evidence shows that they were first made into olive oil between 6000 BC and 4500 BC in Israel. Sorry, your olive oil isn’t Paleo.

So while of course there are large variances in the true Paleolithic diet based upon what was available at the time, here’s the rundown of what was really eaten during that time period:

  • Fish
  • Legumes
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Grains
  • Children were weaned much later than they typically are today, so children had the advantage of breastmilk for many years
  • Animals such as wooly mammoths, deer, seals, elands, shellfish, carrion, & birds
  • Eggs
  • Tubers & roots
  • Fruits
  • Insects
  • Raw dairy
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ancient wild foods harvested near my home

On top of that there are many of today’s wild foods that we know were around during Neolithic times. I have no reason to believe these were not available 12,000 years ago or longer:

  • Stinging nettles
  • Beech nut
  • Garlic mustard
  • Lambs quarters
  • Acorns
  • Hazelnuts
  • Burdock root
  • Wild grapes
  • Elder flowers and berry
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Wild turnips
  • Crab apples
  • Bolete mushrooms: mushrooms are a difficult food to detect in ancient remains, but we do have evidence of bolete mushrooms being consumed in Spain 18,000-12,000 years ago
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boletes like these that my husband harvested would have been eaten

Curious, intriguing, surprising, and inspiring isn’t it? While I’m not telling you to go make this your end-all diet, I do think our modern “diet culture” can take some lessons from the Paleolithic peoples. Eat real food, mostly plants, no whole natural food is inherently bad, and relax. Oh, and eat your nettles.

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com – 920-327-2221

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Creamy Wild Mushroom & Brie Soup

It’s no secret the canned cream of mushroom soup is horrendous for your health. Is there even any real food in there?? Here we have a much more flavorful and healthy alternative- great eaten on its own with a salad, or used as a replacement for cream of mushroom soup in your favorite recipes.

mushroombrie soup

Nom!

To add a wild twist to mine, I chose to use wild chanterelle mushrooms that I had frozen from last summer’s harvest. But you can use any mushroom you can get your hands on and it’ll still be wonderful! In place of the white wine I used my maple sap wine that we brewed with sap from the maples in our yard last winter. (wow that stuff is strong!)

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Ingredients:

  • 16-24 oz mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 6-10 ounces brie, rind cut off and cut into smaller squares
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Finely chop 3/4 of the mushrooms, and then slice the rest into thin pieces.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the onions, thyme, and garlic to the mushrooms and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the flour and wine then cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the milk and brie, and stir as until the brie fully melts.
  6. Separate the bigger slices of mushrooms, then puree the rest of it in a blender or food processor. Then add in the mushroom pieces for some texture, and enjoy!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Get Even Healthier!
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally and holistically.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here!

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved.