Vail Daily’s Colorful Cooking column: A protein-packed appetizer that’s vegan, too |

Vail Daily’s Colorful Cooking column: A protein-packed appetizer that’s vegan, too

Mushrooms are high in protein, niacin, folate and minerals. Stuff mushrooms for a flavorful, healthful appetizer.
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Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics and soaps derived from animal products. Vegans choose this lifestyle for a variety of reasons: health, environmental awareness and/ or ethical reasons.

When I recently donated a catered dinner for a fundraiser, I was given the challenge of feeding a group of gluten-free vegans. Rising to the challenge, I used chia seeds to crust eggplant, roasted tomatoes with olives for a sauce, curried carrot soup and prepared mushrooms stuffed with cauliflower and pecans.

Mushrooms are considered one of the most medicinal foods around, and stuffing them usually adds saturated fat, so I was delighted when I discovered that the vegan version was delicious and low cal. Mushrooms are high in protein, niacin, folate and minerals and are a great choice for a vegetarian or vegan looking to get their daily recommended amount of protein. Adults in the U.S. are encouraged to get 10 to 35 percent of their day’s calories from protein foods. That’s about 46 grams of protein for women and 56 grams of protein for men, according to web One ounce of mushrooms equals one gram of both protein and fiber.

Using baby bella mushrooms is a hearty choice for cooking. Baby bellas are small portobello mushrooms and easy to find in our local grocery stores. They are 80 to 90 percent water and their cell walls are made up of chitin so they don’t break down when cooking. Look for firm mushrooms that are all close to the same size so they cook evenly.

The stuffing is a magic blend of steamed cauliflower, pecans, olive oil, roasted garlic and parsley. The flavor is fresh from the parsley and rich from the pecans and olive oil. When using parsley, be sure to remove the leaves from the stems as the stems can impact flavor with bitterness.

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If you’re looking for more vegan recipes, please join Colorado Mountain College for a vegan cooking class on Sunday and learn how to cross utilize ingredients to not waste all the perishables needed for a complete vegan diet. The cooking classes are fun and hands-on and end with a full buffet meal.

Vegan-stuffed mushrooms

Makes 12

12 medium baby bella mushrooms

2 cups raw cauliflower

1/2 cup pecans

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/4 cup parsley leaves

4 garlic cloves, roasted (optional)

Salt and pepper

If roasting garlic, heat oven to 400 degrees, cut off bottom (small pointy side) of garlic head to expose cloves, drizzle with olive oil and place in oven in garlic roaster or wrapped and sealed in aluminum foil for 45 minutes. Otherwise, heat oven to 375 degrees.

Pull the stems out of the mushrooms and scrape the inside ribs out. This is done easily with a grapefruit spoon.

Steam 2 cups of raw cauliflower in 1/2 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain well.

In a food processor, pulse cauliflower and next six items until smooth.

Season heavily with salt and pepper. Adjust consistency by adding more olive oil.

Place the mixture in a pastry bag or large ziplock with a small hole cut in one end to use as a pastry bag.

Put mushrooms on a baking sheet and pipe cauliflower mixture into each mushroom.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Tracy Miller is TV8’s in house chef, a culinary instructor at CMC in Edwards and Breckenridge and host of private cooking parties. To contact Miller, email or visit for more healthy recipes.

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