Mushrooms: A weekend griller’s secret ingredient

By Josh McCrary on 7th Jul 2019

Local Table is a local food and farm guide. Their goal is to support a community that celebrates homegrown food, folks and farms from Tennessee. Here, writer Josh McCrary shares his ideas to shake up your grilling habits with some natural produce…

Grilling is one of the most basic methods to cook hamburgers, steaks, seafood, or vegetables. A new trend called ‘blended meats’ is changing grilling as we know it, though. This trend involves blending different vegetables, such as mushrooms, into classic grilled dishes. Blended meats can even be used to reform the classic hamburger. The blended meats trend has become popular across the nation to enhance flavor, increase the nutritional value, and to improve the use of Earth’s resources.

Surely blended burgers do not have the same flavor as a classic grilled burger, right? That is correct. In fact, grilling blended burgers with mushrooms improves the flavor compared to the classic burger. One research study even found that seared mushrooms have a more intense roasted, charred, and smoky flavor. This boost in flavor is due to the savory flavor property of mushrooms, known as umami. The umami compounds create a longer-lasting taste feeling on the taste buds, leading to more taste satisfaction. Cooked mushrooms also add moisture to dishes to improve the overall appeal that every backyard griller is trying to reach to impress his or her guests.

Mushrooms add Vitamin D, potassium, B Vitamins, and other vitamins and minerals that are found in meats and grains. These nutrients help build strong bones, control blood pressure, and protect cells from damage. Blending meats with mushrooms can also lower salt by 25 percent. Less salt can help these burgers to become a better heart healthy option.

Lastly, blended meats can also help to reduce the environmental impact. Today, mushrooms are grown inside mushroom houses, allowing for control of environmental factors, land use, and energy and water needs. Mushroom farmers also recycle crushed corncobs, cottonseed hulls, and horse stable bedding to reuse waste from other farmers. Mushroom farmers have also been able to streamline energy use and control costs to better use Earth’s natural resources.

Blended meats are on the rise to enhance the flavor of foods, become healthier, and to better use Earth’s resources. Join the movement and try the recipe below to add a little secret to your grill.

Mediterranean Blended Burger
Prep time – 15 minutes
Cook Time – 10 minutes
Servings – 4 patties

1/2 pounds crimini mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef, 90% lean/10% fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 hamburger buns

– Finely dice mushrooms or gently pulse in food processor.
– In skillet, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat and add mushrooms, searing 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
– Transfer cooled mushrooms to medium bowl. Add ground beef and salt, mixing until combined. Make 4 patties. Cook burger patties on the grill using medium-high heat until desired doneness. Plate and add desired toppings to bun.

Topping recommendations: feta cheese, romesco sauce, sweet peppers and seared red onions.

Nutrition Information (without toppings):
Calories: 383, Fat: 21 g, Sodium: 321 mg, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 29 g

*Recipe adopted from

Josh McCrary is a dietetic intern at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He is originally from Tyler, Texas and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science with a concentration Dietetics. Josh plans to become a Registered Dietitian upon completing his internship. In the future, his career plans include helping people improve their quality of life through nutrition education and counseling.

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