Mushrooms? Seriously?

When someone says the word “mushroom”, the first image that comes to my mind is the can of button mushrooms we always had in the house while I was growing up. They were slimy. They were salty. They had a strange texture. I did not like. Now that I’m the grown up, mushrooms have not been a part of my culinary repertoire. There have been times while walking in the produce department that my eye has strayed to the displays of fresh mushrooms. They certainly didn’t look like the ones I ate while growing up. They actually looked pretty interesting. But all I knew how to do with mushrooms was open the can, dump into spaghetti sauce, then pick them back out before eating. So I kept walking.

Recently I was contacted by The Mushroom Council, a group of U.S. mushroom growers. They are promoting National Nutrition Month (March) as the perfect time to “get your plate in shape” with mushrooms.

Mushrooms huh?

The hook? 

“Increasing the intake of lower calorie foods, specifically mushrooms, in place of those higher in calories, like ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing calories and fat while still feeling full and satisfied after a meal. This approach of replacing some ground beef, turkey or other meat with mushrooms is known as “swapability.” It works because mushrooms’ hearty texture and rich flavor allow them to blend seamlessly with meats. The mushroom and meat “swapability” technique is an economical way to make family meals more nutritious and works great in family favorites like lasagna, burgers, tacos or chili.”

Swapping some of the meat? That sounds pretty interesting. 

Mushrooms and Meat: The Perfect Partner

Replacing some of the ground beef, turkey, or other meat with mushrooms is an easy technique called “swapability”

Mushrooms’ hearty texture and flavor make them compatible with meats both as a complement or replacement

Swapping in mushrooms for a portion of the higher-calorie ingredients, like meat, in a dish reduces calories, fat and sodium without compromising on flavor

The “swapability” approach is an economical way to make family meals more nutritious

This simple three-step “swapability” strategy is perfect for family favorites like burgerslasagna pizza, chili – or any dish that calls for ground meat:

o    Chop up your favorite mushroom variety to match the consistency of the ground beef or turkey;

o    Cook and season mushrooms the same way you would meat;

o    Combine the cooked meat and mushrooms and use the mix to complete your recipe.

I think I could try this. It sounds easy enough, and they provided links to several recipes.


Crab and Mushroom Cakes with Chipotle Aioli

Mushroom Burger Wrap

Cremini and Pork Meatballs

Chocolate Chili

Mushroom Flatbread

Almost Lasagna

Mushroom and Beef Bulgogi Tacos

Chocolate Chili? I am willing to try anything that starts with the word  “chocolate”. Heh heh. Mushroom Council – Your challenge is accepted!

Using half my normal amount of ground beef.


Next I carmalized the onions.

While the onions were doing their thing, I contemplated the next step. What do I do with these?

I chopped, and took a deep breath, and added them in.

The mushroom/beef mix. It smells really, really good!

Then I added in the beans, tomato sauce and spices.

Then I did this. Oh yes I did.

I simmered for about 20 minutes to let the flavors meld. That is such an awesome word. Meld. 

Verdict? Total yum! Do you see that happy face? No, really, it IS his happy face. He’s 17, this is ecstatic. Teen boys don’t show much emotion. This is a recipe that will have a solid place in our menus…..and…..I WILL try a few more mushroom swaps. 

Interested in learning more? Join us at a Twitter party on Monday, March 12th at 8:00 PM EST. The event hashtag is #Mushrooms and there will be prizes awarded. (US and Canada, 18+). RSVP is available at:


{{Mommy Rambles was compensated for this post by the Mushroom Council and Global Influence, but the yum was all mine!!}}


Happy Birthday to ….. Pepsi Pups

Last year – yes it has now been a year, when we began the process of applying for a service dog from Animals For Autism (also known as Siberian Snow Babies) we were matched with a beautiful pup. We excitedly looked at the information about this amazing puppy who was about to change our lives.

It was fate!

Her birthday was 03/07! That is Jimmy’s birthday! Today!


This little puppy, who we were instantly smitten with, shared Jimmy’s birthday!

It was meant to be! This beautiful girl was to be ours.

She was perfect! We memorized everything we could about her.

"Bella" at 6 weeks

We put her picture on our phones so we could show complete strangers in the Target checkout line. We made her picture our screen saver so we could see her when we walked by the computer. We put her pictures on Faith’s iPod so she could scroll through them. And she did. Several times a day.  We sent in our monthly payments of $750. We talked about Bella. We loved Bella. Today should have been her first birthday.

Too bad she never existed.

Oh, as a dog, she existed. She is a real dog. But she was not born 03/07/2011 as stated.

"Bella" with date info

She was born 03/24/2007

The dog my daughter fell in love with, that we all fell in love with, did not exist as we were led to believe she did.

None of the Pepsi Pups existed.

"James" the free service dog

And neither Pepsi or Global Giving see anything wrong with this.

So today, instead of wishing the dog we fell in love with a Happy Birthday,  I am saying goodbye to the dream that began 1 year ago.

Who needs sleep anyway

The past 5 days have been interesting.

Ok, that is a total lie.

The past 5 days have been awful.

Faith has never been much for sleeping. It’s as if the little switch that we all have that flips over in our brains and allows sleep, is missing for her. She just stays awake. For about 3 years now we have been using a combination of two medications, clonidine and trazadone, to help ease her into a restful and restorative sleep. We came to use those two particular medications after several years of trying natural, herbal, sensory, diet and behavioral modifications.

For the dose that Faith needs, we have her medications compounded. While that allows for ease in dispensing, it is a pain in the tush. The meds are only stable for 30 days, our insurance will only allow refills ever 25 days and shipping time for the compounds is 2-3 days.

We walk a fine line of “Crap! Only one dose left and the UPS guy isn’t here yet!”

We had our yearly appointment with Faith’s Developmental Pediatrician on Thursday. While discussing this issue we brought up having a back up medication on hand for situations like this. Since Faith is now almost 90 pounds and the medication would be used only very rarely for sleep, we thought of trying Ambien.

Conveniently,  Thursday night we were on the line of running out of her compounded meds and her new ones would not arrive until Friday. Perfect night to give the Ambien a try!

Since I take Ambien, I know it works fast. We waited until almost her normal bedtime of 8pm, and then gave her 2.5mg. Then we waited, hopeful.

9pm – nothing

10pm – she was beginning to act hyper, making many vocalization and stimming

11pm – she was full on stimming, vocal ticking, trying to pick her fingernails off.

12pm – she was combative. Trying to hit Jimmy and I, pulling my hair, trying to hit her head on the floor, yelling at something she was seeing. We had to take turns attempting to hold her to keep her from hurting herself.

1am – combativeness started to lesson, but vocal ticks and stimming cam back, spent a lot of time shaking her head back and forth and laughing at the colors

2am – still wide awake, but no longer talking to things only she could see. Asked for her iPad.

3am – toppled over.

OMG! Every muscle in my body hurt from the force of trying to hold her safe from hurting herself. But at least it was over, right? Right?

7am Friday she popped up and began the vocal stimming again. Not in the frantic way of the previous night, but in a manic way. She was wired. She was unable to focus on anything, was talking but jumping subjects so fast she was hard to follow. This continued all day long. Thank goodness her compounded meds were being delivered that evening.

At 5pm the UPS guy delivered her medication.

Ummm, we have a problem.

Old medication is on the top, new is on the bottom.

Did I mention her meds are compounded on the east coast? Did I mention it was Friday? Did I mention the pharmacy and my doctors office are closed on the weekends?

The new med was totally different. The compound that we have received for the past three years was dark purple, with a strong grape scent. It was the consistency of thick syrup. It was labeled 0.1mg/ml.

The med that arrived on Friday was totally clear, very faintly grape-ish smelling. It was the consistency of water.  It was labeled 1mg/ml.

No note explaining the change. No one answered the phone at either the pharmacy or doctors office. She was still wired. She was still going a mile a minute. Until I talked with someone who knew what was going on, I couldn’t give her the clonidine. She was up until 2am Friday night. She woke once at 3 until 4am. She was up for the day bright and early at 7am Saturday. Then followed another full day of hyper, disjointed stimming and vocalizing.

This has to end sometime….right? Right? 

Saturday she fell asleep once again at 2am. Up again at 5 for about 20 minutes, then asleep again until 7. Sunday was again full of hyper bouncing off the walls. Jimmy and I were on our last nerve. No sleep does that to a person after several days.

Anyway, long story short…

We finally talked with the pharmacy on Monday….after 5 days of hyper, wired, no sleeping Faith.

She had her correct dose of meds on Monday night. She fell asleep by 8pm and slept with only 2 wake ups until 10:30am on Tuesday! Her poor little body was plum worn out.

As are we….