The Great ‘Shroom Experiment

As most of you know, I am hyper vigilant about everything I eat, and going out to eat is second only to a party that is the most challenging to my resolve. You can make an educated guess about what ingredients are in certain dishes, ask the server to ask the chef to prepare something without oil, and order sauces and dressings on the side, but unless the recipe and prep is laid out in black and white, a restaurant food’s calorie/fat/carb/fiber count is usually a crap shoot. That’s why when I find something I know is in my food comfort zone, I stick with it, time after time after time.

On Friday, New Guy and I had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, North Country Brewing Co. in Slippery Rock. I’ve been going there for a couple of years and I always get the hummus and a salad. Hummus and salad, hummus and salad, hummus and salad until two weeks ago I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried the bean burger without the bun. The verdict? Eh…it was OK. Next time I’ll order it without the chili sauce on top. It was a little too spicy for this Norwegian palate.

Normally I have gone back to my comfort zone, but there was one other thing I’ve been hankerin’ to try: the Portabello ‘Shrooben. “Grilled portabellos topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese & our homemade Russian dressing. Served on grilled rye.”

I love Reuben sandwiches. Light rye, dark rye, pumpernickel…I don’t care. I love that sandwich. I remember the first one I ever ate. I was 6 or 7 years old. Dad had taken us to a Blue Angels show in Minneapolis and when we got home, he made Reuben sandwiches. The only thing I ever saw my dad make were cheese omelets (which are divine…I still can’t make them as good as he does), so it was fun to watch him make sandwiches for all of us that night. It was also the first time I’d ever eaten sauerkraut, one of the best tasting foods in the world, IMHO.

I haven’t eaten a Reuben in years, convinced it wouldn’t be the same without a cured meat, which I no longer eat. But every time I go to North Country, I look at (and drool over) that dang sandwich. So Friday I tried the Portabello ‘Shrooben, and it seriously was the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time. It was as satisfying as the risotto George’s girlfriend ate on “Seinfeld,” if you know what I mean.

The only thing “heavy” about the sandwich was the bread. However, they grilled it on a dry grill. No butter, just as I’d requested. I also ordered the dressing on the side. Granted, it didn’t have the saltiness that comes with a cured meat, but it was as close to a fabulous Reuben that my vegetarian heart could hope for.

I loved it so much that today I decided to make one at home.

I grilled the portabellos in a little Pam and veggie broth.

Made the 1000 Island dressing (a Joy Bauer recipe): 3T low-fat mayo, 3T ketchup, ½ t Worcestershire sauce, 1T pickle relish and ½ t horseradish.

I put light Jarlsburg cheese, sauerkraut, and the mushrooms on the bread and grilled it with just Pam on the pan.

Except for the fact that I used light bread rather than rye (which next time, I’m “splurging” on rye), it was a very good sandwich. I will probably put the 1000 Island directly on the sandwich, too, while grilling and serve it with a side of mustard. (Mmmmm…mustard. I love condiments.)

That’s not my thumb in the way. That’s me giving it a thumbs up, but wow, it makes my sandwich look really tiny!

I ate my sandwich with a side of roasted broccoli. My quickie recipe: Cut up a few crowns into bit-sized pieces or strips, Pam a casserole, arrange the broccoli, sprinkle garlic powder and pepper on top, spray a little with Pam and throw in a 375-degree oven and roast for 30-40 minutes. Today I topped it with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Food can be tough to navigate, god knows. But often, food takes us back to certain points in time, reminds us where we came from, makes us all warm and fuzzy. Is there anything you ate prior to losing weight that you’ve modified to make more “healthy” now? Anything you’d like to eat again, but aren’t sure how to make that would fit your new eating plan? Are there things you aren’t willing to modify and eat sparingly just because it’s worth it when you do? Hit me up with your comments or send an email to

18 thoughts on “The Great ‘Shroom Experiment

  1. Wow that looks really good. There are so many foods that I like that I have needed to modify. But I don't. I've mostly changed what I eat altogether.

    I eat seasonally according to the CSA, and that makes it more difficult to shop and cook for specific recipes. I tend to wing it.

    I find parties and eating out to be a complete minefield. I went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant with friends yesterday. Mexican is the toughest for me. I pushed the chips to the other side of the table and decided I could have them if I finished my meal. Which was salad with grilled chicken, a little bit of avocado, pico de gallo, pumpkin seeds. I ordered it without cheese and without tortilla strips. Dressing on the side and I added salsa. By the time I was done and tasted a chip, they were cold and yucky.

    Today was a kid's party where I had a veggie sandwich and carrot sticks and orange slices. No cupcake, no candy, no cookies, no chips. It was tough.

    When I go home to PA it's tough because my mom ALWAYS wants to eat out and there is literally NOTHING on the menu that is healthy at most of those restaurants.

    When it comes to chocolate though, I eat the good stuff. Dark with almonds.

  2. Sorry for the previous deletion. Anyway, I just wanted to say that your food looks great. I think adapting old recipes to make them healthier and lower calorie is a very good step toward lifelong maintenance. You have obviously learned a lot during your maintenance years, and I am so grateful that you share this in your posts. Not only is it helpful in the sense of learning how to do it, but you set an example and encourage us to do the same.

  3. Lynn, I think I just fell in love with that sammich. I'm pescitarian (vegetarian who eats fish) and I have missed Ruben sammiches every time I go out with my BF.

    P.s I found your blog from an internet news article you were mentioned in! I've only been blogging for 5 days now (since I read the article) but I wanted to tell you I found it very inspirational.

  4. Yes, I find restaurants and parties very difficult, especially when I'm trying to lose a bit of weight.

    One of my favorite adaptations is my fried rice recipe. If you just decrease the oil, and really increase the amount of veggies in almost any recipe it will lighten it up significantly. But of course you know that Lynn!

    I also like my spaghetti sauce on top of grilled veggies.

  5. Another “for the win” moment for California. More and more restaurants are posting their calorie/fat/carb/sodium content so diners know exactly what they're getting. It's mind-blowingly shocking, but it really helps when you're looking for things that fit within your calorie count/diet/eating habits. And usually those things are the veggies and salads on the menu.

  6. Your 'Shroom experiment and broccoli look great to me! I have modified pizza by using the Whole Wheat fresh pizza dough at TJ's and adding sauteed peppers, spinach, mushrooms and onions with broccoli and sometimes turkey pepperoni. I print a lot of healthy recipes posted on blogs and the web. I have come to realize a few of my challenges being portion control, emotional eating and any social setting to include business lunches and business travel. Working on journaling with hopes it will lead me to where I need to get to. Need to find that commitment and determination bulb to go on for ME!

  7. Looks good. I'll have to check out the recipe the thousand Island.

    I love tinkering with recipes. Tonight I made a spaghetti sauce in the crock pot, which is easy, breezy to lighten up. I stuck some chicken Italian sausage in,but I have to say, I've had better luck with sneaking the veggie sausage crumbles by the family, and that's just fine with me. Tomorrow with the leftover sauce, I'm making stuffed shells with whole wheat pasta, light ricotta that I will mix in some ff cottage cheese and spices. I'll sprinkle with a nice sharp cheese for flavor – yummo. A meal that we will all enjoy, and I won't even get, “Is this real?” or “Am I going to like it or is it good for me?”

  8. My tastes have changed and I don't want most of the old foods I used to eat…but if there IS something I'm really craving, I'll have it. Usually it isn't as good as I thought it would be. Except for candy…but that's not really food, right? 😉

  9. I too stopped at “new guy”.hee hee.I wonder with all of your writings and reflections what is it like now dating in your new body and new town? I hope you are as happy as you deserve to be!!

  10. Hi Lynn! Just wanted to let you know what a great inspiration you've been to me, and would love for you to check out my blog.
    I'm a Lynn follower! lol

  11. oh man! When you mentioned a reuben, my heart skipped a beat. Oh, that is my all time favorite sandwich, coming from a non sandwich lover. Your version sounds so fabulous, because I love mushrooms and the corned beef has never been my favorite part anyway. I am so excited to try it!!

  12. That sandwich really looks fantastic, Lynn. I need to mix up my food a bit; I'm so stagnant right now: veggie burgers and salad. I'm burned out on it, no question. The only thing I would love a substitute for are donuts. They are my weakness beyond belief. There is a company called Holey Donuts and I actually ordered from them a couple of times because they have low-fat donuts, but they dry out too quickly, so I'm on the lookout for my own recipe that isn't too 'cakey'. One day…..

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