Meaty, rich, exotic, nutritious and delicious mushrooms are an excellent food for nursing moms!  Mushrooms are rich in a variety of nutrients and are one of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s—a leader in plant-based nutrition for all– top cancer fighting foods to eat on a regular basis. Plus, according to Hillary Jacobson, author of Mother Food, mushrooms can be helpful in addressing colic symptoms in baby because mushrooms increase the body’s immune response, including increasing immunoglobin IgA. This immune substance helps prevent large poorly digested food molecules from passing through baby’s intestines [1].

This is important because babies are born with a digestive tract full of holes.  These holes are designed to allow immunities of the mother to pass through the digestive tract into the blood stream to provide protection for baby.  The bad news is that large undigested food molecules can also pass through these holes often contributing to colic and digestive upset in baby.  But if nursing moms are eating mushrooms on a regular basis, 1-2 times weekly, they can help prevent poorly digested particles from passing through, thus lessening the likelihood of colic.

All mushrooms have health benefits, even the “lowly” button mushroom.  They are a good source of amino acids, great news for those of us increasing of vegetable intake but who want to ensure we are getting adequate proteins. Mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight contain vitamin D, an elusive but very necessary vitamin—known as the sun vitamin– vital for moms and babies.

It is important to COOK your mushrooms thoroughly. This makes all their amazing nutrients available and easily absorbed. Most mushrooms taste great sautéed in a hot skillet with a little water, stock or wine (the alcohol is cooked out leaving only flavor behind).  Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt and a couple grinds of black or white pepper. Here’s one of my favorite recipes for mushrooms.

In case you are not familiar with mushrooms here’s what makes a few of the most readily available ‘shrooms such a great choice for breastfeeding mamas.  Then one of my favorite mushroom recipes.

  • Maitake mushrooms have incredible immune boosting complex sugars called beta glucans

    Shitake mushrooms are amazing cancer fighters and are a good source of vitamin D. They are especially good at increasing IgA.

    Porcini mushrooms reduce inflammation.

  • Chanterelles have anti-fungal, bacterial and microbial properties while being
    a good source of vitamin D, C and potassium.
  • Portobello, Cremini and Button mushrooms increase metabolism and help
    maintain blood sugar levels


Breastfeeding Chef’s Balsamic-Tamari Mushrooms

These ‘shrooms are a great base for a sandwich served with lettuce, avocado and cilantro.  They are just as good over rice or served as a side dish.  Enjoy the hot or cold!


½ large red onion, sliced into half moons

½ cup water

¾ pound mushrooms, stems removed, sliced into ¼ inch thick slices

½ cup aged balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons low sodium vegetable stock or water

2 tablespoons low sodium tamari

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 tablespoon sliced scallions, white and green parts

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon sea salt


Over medium high flame, heat a skillet with a lid until water sprinkled on the surface bubbles and scatters.  Add onions in one layer.  When onions began to brown slightly, stir them, add ½ cup water, stirring reduce heat and cook until onions are tender and caramelized, and water is evaporated about 2-3 minutes.

While onions cook, place mushrooms in a medium bowl, add balsamic, vegetable stock or water, tamari, garlic scallion and red pepper flakes. Using gentle hands, to avoid breaking the mushrooms toss well to combine until much of the marinade has been absorbed.  When onions are done add mushrooms and remaining marinade to pot with onions. Cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook about 5-7 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Remove lid and allow any remaining marinade to cook down. Remove from pan and serve.

By Ebeth Johnson, The Breastfeeding Chef