Springing to life with Vitamin D

I have a confession to make. I’ve been overdosing on vitamin D all winter.

How does one get extreme doses of the sunshine hormone? One way is spending lots of time outside in the light. Five to fifteen minutes of midday sun exposure can be enough to meet many people’s vitamin D needs. That is the other part of my confession. I’ve been wintering in our Florida bungalow, walking, biking, and paddling outside for much more than 15 minutes each day. I must admit, it’s been nice—except that I didn’t even see snow this winter.

Sunshine indulgence is not without its effects. The immune system greatly benefits from healthy doses of vitamin D, which is not just a vitamin. Vitamin D is a hormone the kidneys produce that controls blood calcium concentration and elevates the immune system.

Our friends at The Physicians Committee tell us that vitamin D consumption and supplementation may reduce the risk for viral infections, including respiratory tract infections, by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body. Increased vitamin D in the blood has been linked to the prevention of chronic diseases including tuberculosis, hepatitis, and cardiovascular disease.

Food sources of vitamin D include mushrooms, fortified cereals, plant-based milk substitutes, and supplements.

As we emerge from what some have called a dark winter, and bounce into the season of renewal—ripe with opportunities to enjoy nature—we might feel like we are springing to life.

Wishing you all a beautiful spring and Easter to those who celebrate. May the recipes I share with you liven up your holiday tables!

DRUNKEN MUSHROOM NOODLES


Makes 4 servings

All mushrooms contain some vitamin D, but mushrooms have a distinctive ability to increase vitamin D amounts with UV light or sunlight exposure. Like humans, mushrooms naturally produce vitamin D following exposure to sunlight or a sunlamp. For the maximum amount of nutrition, eat the darker varieties.

This dish is a cross between Thai drunken noodles and stroganoff. I was recently inspired to create this recipe when I had leftover lasagna noodles, lots of portabellas in the fridge and not much else.

8 ounces of pre-cooked noodles (I cut leftover lasagna noodles into strips.)

1 medium onion, chopped

8 ounces of mushrooms, chopped (about 4 portabella mushroom caps)

3 garlic cloves, chopped (3 teaspoons minced garlic)

1 cup warm vegetable broth in a medium jar or bowl

3 tablespoons liquid aminos

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 teaspoon ground sage

1 teaspoon basil

½ teaspoon pepper

Salt to taste, optional

Vegan sour cream, optional

Heat vegetable broth and liquid aminos in a small sauté pan or add to a medium bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch or arrowroot powder until it has dissolved. Then add the sage, basil, pepper and salt, if using. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan, cook onions for three to four minutes or until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Stirring often, add the seasoned broth and cook down until the liquid evaporates. Once the vegetables have caramelized, add the cooked noodles and mix thoroughly.

Serve with vegan sour cream, if using. (It adds creaminess, but I skipped
this option.)

QUICK RICE PUDDING– A PCRM recipe

Makes 4 servings

This is not only a wholesome sweet treat, the fortified soy milk in this recipe will boost the sunshine you hold inside.

1 ½ cups plain or vanilla soy milk

1 teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder

2 cups cooked brown rice

¼ cup maple syrup

1/3 cup raisins

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

Pour soy milk into a medium saucepan and add the cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Add the rice, maple syrup, raisins, and cinnamon, and cook over medium heat.

Cook the rice pudding for three minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla and almond extracts.

Serve hot or cold. Top the pudding with sliced bananas for extra flavor and nutrition.

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