It's tasty, a low-calorie meal, and amazingly satisfying.


Umami is known as the fifth taste bud, providing a sensation described as savory and meaty. It's found in many everyday foods, including tomatoes, parmesan cheese, mushrooms, soy sauce, and anchovies. A splash of soy sauce in a soup or a grating of Parmesan cheese on a salad boost umami flavor. Drop an anchovie into a tomato sauce, and it dissolves to enhance flavor (no fishy taste!).

Here's one of my favorite ways to experience umami with a portobello mushroom burger. It's tasty, a low-calorie meal, and amazingly satisfying. Weighing in at only 15 calories per mushroom, feel free to make yourself a double burger! Here is the recipe:

Portobello Mushroom Burger (serves one)

-One large Portobello mushroom (stem removed)

-One whole grain 100-calorie "skinny" bun

-One tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

-Lettuce and tomato

-1 clove of chopped garlic (fresh or jarred)

-2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

Mix the garlic with the red wine vinegar in a shallow plate, and marinate the mushroom in it for a few minutes. Grill the mushroom (pan, outside grill, or oven) for about 2 minutes per side, until softened. Place on bun, with some salt and pepper, and top with parmesan cheese, if desired. Add a slice of lettuce and tomato.

No time to marinate? Just season the mushroom with salt and pepper and grill. It's still a tasty treat!

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., is the Today show's Nutrition Editor and author of The Real You Diet.