Eat Right with Rouses

Make Room for ‘Shrooms

My Rouses Everyday, July/August 2017

In the world of dietitians, we’re always trying to come up with ways to increase vegetable intake for anyone and everyone.

I can’t tell you how many times someone opens up the conversation with, “I don’t eat vegetables, and I never will.” If you know someone like this, perhaps a husband, wife, child or anyone else, I have a secret that will rock your world; it’s called “the blend.”

The blend is a very simple yet effective concept: mixing finely chopped mushrooms with ground meat. Don’t like mushrooms? Don’t worry, because you can’t tell the difference — I promise! With my own eyes, I’ve seen a mushroom hater unknowingly eat it and like it (gasp!).

Let’s pause and consider mushrooms before I receive an email telling me mushrooms aren’t vegetables. Technically, a mushroom isn’t a vegetable because it doesn’t have any leaves, roots or seeds, and it doesn’t need light to grow. It’s a fungus. But, the USDA does classify mushrooms as vegetables because they provide many of the nutritional properties of vegetables. So let’s practice suspension of disbelief and move forward with the thought that mushrooms are vegetables here.

Incorporating the blend into your ground meat recipes has numerous benefits. By mixing mushrooms with meat, you’re adding more plant-based foods to your diet, which is always a good thing. Adding mushrooms can also reduce food costs in most cases, since meat tends to be higher in price than other grocery items, including mushrooms. This extends your portion of meat, making less go a longer way. Using the blend means lower saturated fat, calories and sodium content, and it has the added benefit of keeping the burger juicy.

The blend involves three easy steps:

  1. Chop your favorite mushrooms to match the consistency of ground meat.
  2. Blend the chopped mushrooms with the ground meat.
  3. Cook the mushroom-meat blend to complete the recipe.

Depending on the dish, you may want to switch up your ratio of mushrooms to meat. For burgers, aim for a 30:70 ratio of mushroom to meat to keep the proper consistency. The same is true for meatballs and meat loaf. Sloppy joes, tacos and burritos should have a 40:60 ratio, whereas chili and sauces are fine with a 70:30 ratio. Make it even more flavorful by roasting the mushrooms for 15 minutes before you chop and mix them.

Now that you’ve been enlightened by the blend, go forth and use the knowledge for good. Try it on an unsuspecting mushroom cynic. Share this simple trick with your friends and send me your results! Can’t wait to see your results!


Three Baton Rouge chefs, Ryan Andre of City Pork Brasserie & Bar, Sean Rivera of Driftwood Cask & Barrel, and Sydney Harkins of Noble Wave took home top honors at the recent Blended Burger BattleTM at Central City BBQ in New Orleans. The event was part of the James Beard Foundation’s Culinary Fight Club. The chefs’ winning burger — made with king oyster and shiitake mushrooms, charred jalapeños, poblano peppers and bacon — earned them a chance to compete at the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama in November.

Now seven local restaurants are competing for votes in the third annual James Beard Foundation Blended Burger Project. Votes are based on creative use of mushrooms, flavor profile, and appetizing appearance. The blended burgers will be served at City Pork Brasserie & Bar in Baton Rouge, Social Southern Table & Bar in Lafayette, Vega Tapas Café in Metairie, Brown Butter Southern Kitchen & Bar and Revel in New Orleans, the Villaggio Grille in Orange Beach, and the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi through July 31, which is when voting ends. Cast your vote!