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In the words of the prophet Taylor Swift, I need to calm down. And according to the latest in wellness trends, it’s adaptogenic mushrooms that I need. The adaptogenic fungi—not to be confused with the hallucinatory sort, but heck, maybe I need those too—are types like reishi, lion’s mane, cordyceps, and chaga, and ingesting them is believed by many to help our bodies adapt to stress and relax.
I want to better adapt to stress and relax and eat and drink delicious things. That’s why I’m happy to see so many new grocery store products touting adaptogens as key ingredients. Obviously, fungi aren’t anything new, but finding ‘shrooms in everything from chocolate to oatmeal to sparkling water is.
Many of these products are made right here in Colorado, and so, in an attempt to calm down and better handle the stresses of single parenting, work, family drama, and oh yeah, a continuous global pandemic, I decided to taste drive five local adaptogenic mushroom products. Were they the miracle chill pill I was looking for? Spoiler alert: Not exactly, but my quality of life didn’t suffer from adding dark chocolate and wildflower honey to my diet. Here, five Colorado-made foods and drinks to help us calm down.
My morning routine typically goes something like this: Reset iPhone alarm, wake and feed kids, yell at kids to brush teeth, yell at kids to get dressed, yell at kids to stop hitting each other and get out the door, return home and work furiously until it’s time to pick up kids and yell at them to stop hitting each other again. As a result, eating a hot breakfast rarely fits into my day.
But making these powdered-mushroom-packed, Denver-made oatmeals, available in flavors like maple, cranberry, and coconut, was a breeze. You heat some water, mix it into the pre-measured little tubs, and wait four minutes. Even though I don’t normally eat oats, I enjoyed the fruit-forward flavors, especially the real strips of coconut and sweetness.
De-stressability: I don’t know that it made a huge difference, but on a morning when I kept distracting myself from writing about tapas by reading about tacos, I did regain some focus and got the story done.
Adaptogenic count: 1,000 mg per serving; $15 for pack of 5; find them on the company’s website and on Amazon.
I’d tried sparkling waters from Dram—a Salida-based company known for their CBD drinks and drops—before, so I was curious when I learned they had a new line of adaptogenic drinks. Of the Holy Basil & Lemon, Mushroom Cola, and Beauty Bubbles, the latter was my favorite, a pretty neutral sparkler that I made a habit of mixing into cocktails and mocktails to further de-stress. The sugar-free, zero-calorie drinks use locally grown mushrooms when possible, with many coming from Fort Lupton’s MyCOlove Farm.
De-stressability: I didn’t actively notice a difference after downing a can, but maybe that’s the point. My post-Dram evenings were fairly chill. Then again, who am I kidding? I’m a 40-year-old mom. Most of my evenings are fairly chill.
Adaptogenic count: undisclosed; $50 for pack of 12; find them at Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Alfalfa’s, Total Beverage, and Whole Foods.
I will eat basically anything in chocolate, so this mushroom bar was an easy sell. Moksha, owned by a husband-and-wife team who taught themselves the way of the cacao nib in 2017, makes vegan chocolate that’s always delicious, and this 70 percent dark chocolate with single-origin cacao nibs from the Dominican Republic—plus the ground lion’s mane, maitake, reishi, chaga, and cordyceps—is as good as most any chocolate bar I’ve eaten.
I started biting off squares here and there—for an afternoon snack, a little dessert, even pre-breakfast. (It has calming mushrooms in it, so chocolate is a totally acceptable pre-breakfast, right?) If popping squares of dark chocolate can be considered therapeutic, I will gladly take this medicine.
De-stressability: My constant anxiety might have dropped down a notch. But it could also just be that I was happier eating chocolate.
Adaptogenic count: two grams in large bar; $10; find it at Moksha’s Boulder chocolate factory or on the company’s website
Last month, my daughter and a friend scootered to the store alone for the first time, and I was worried. It had been an hour since they left, and the store isn’t far. I didn’t want to be the parent who freaks out and imagines the worst-case scenario, but I was. I was about to reach for my car keys, but instead I reached for Parker’s Frangiosa Farms adaptogenic honeys, blends of mushroom extract, a little organic citrus, and the farm’s artisan raw honey. I don’t know that adaptogens work instantly, but conducting an impromptu honey tasting kept me from embarrassing my daughter in front of her friend.
There are so many nuances to honey: their flavors can change based on the flowers the bees visited and even the weather. The reishi honey is fresh and citrusy, while the lion’s mane is rich with notes of maple syrup and, well, mushrooms. Both are different from my “control” wildflower honey, which tastes like molten columbine and sunflowers.
De-stressability: By the time I finished dipping into my little jars, she was home. My blood pressure returned to normal, but who’s to say if it’s because of the honey or the returned child.
Adaptogenic count: 50 mg per tablespoon; $17; find it on the company’s website
It’s possible that my morning coffee habit is contributing to the manic anxiety that kicks in around 9:30 a.m. each day. This tea—made in Nevada by Boulder-owned company Packed with Life—is infused with dried and chopped lion’s mane, reishi, cordyceps, and chaga mushrooms, along with 12 organic herbs, and it tastes like a good, sightly ginger-y, slightly earthy tea. It’s supposed to be a decaf source of energy, and if I can get energy without the manic anxiety, I’m in.
De-stressability: On one of the days I drank this tea in the morning, I actually skipped my usual afternoon coffee. My daily lunchtime ritual didn’t even sound appealing. Call it a coincidence or call it the mushrooms, but I call it a miracle.
Adaptogenic count: 437.5 mg per tea bag; $25 for 16 bags; find it at Lucky’s, Tonic Oxygen Bar, and Lolita’s, as well as on Amazon
I consumed more mushrooms over the past month than I probably have in the past year. I really wanted eating chocolate and drinking sparkling water to be the answers to my overly anxious, overly stressed life. But I think it’s on me to make changes that go beyond devouring adaptogenic fungi.