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Have yourself a minty little Christmas

In our minds’ eye, we savour fond memories of Christmas that include sights and sounds, flavours and fragrances, and the intense aroma and mouth-watering taste of peppermint is strongly

associated with the Christmas season. But peppermint is found not only in candy canes and chocolate mint patties, it can also easily be added to a variety of simple and delectable recipes to create special dishes to share with our loved ones.

History

The earliest recording of the use of mint for its culinary, aromatic and medicinal attributes can be traced back to the first century A.D. by Roman scientist and naturalist, Pliny (A.D. 23 – 79). The use of mint then appears in the recorded history of most nations, but is not documented as being cultivated in Western Europe and England until much later.

Although wild mint grew naturally in North America and was used by the Native Americans long before the early English settlers arrived, they brought the hybrid-cultivated plant with them that we know as peppermint today.

Health Benefits

Peppermint is perhaps best known as a soothing digestive aid, and it actually has a calming effect on the entire body. Peppermint also contains some anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that ward off infections. But many people don’t realize that peppermint is also rich in nutrients containing healing properties, some of which protect us against carcinogenic chemicals that could damage DNA, as well as those that can decrease the risk of developing particularly colon and rectal cancer.

A Few Quick Ideas for Using Peppermint Leaves:

A cup of peppermint tea can help to soothe your stomach and your nerves (1 teaspoon dried peppermint leaves per 1 cup of boiling water, steeped for 10 minutes)
For a simple and interesting salad idea, combine chopped fennel bulb, chopped sweet onion, mandarin orange segments and fresh mint leaves; toss with mixed baby greens
To make raw spring rolls, add chopped fresh mint leaves and sprouts to matchsticks of red pepper, zucchini, carrot and celery – toss in olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and roll in soaked rice papers – serve with dip of tamari, raw honey and fresh minced garlic
Add chopped mint leaves to soups that feature tomatoes – the freshness of mint complements the sweet acidity of tomatoes
For a yummy side dish idea, toss cubes of eggplant with plain yogurt, chopped mint leaves, fresh minced garlic, and a pinch of cayenne pepper

Candy Cane Smoothie

  • Serves 1
  • Smoothie Ingredients:
  • 2 Small Bananas
  • ½ Cup Coconut Milk
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 3-4 Drops Peppermint Oil
  • Ice cubes

Strawberry Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Strawberries
  • ¼ Cup Raw Honey

Puree strawberries and honey together and pour into a squeeze-bottle. Drizzle 4 strips of strawberry sauce evenly around the inside of a large, clear glass for striping effect. Blend smoothie ingredients together and pour into prepared glass. Garnish with fresh peppermint leaf.

Peppermint Granita

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups Boiling Water
  • ¼ Cup Dried Peppermint Leaves
  • ¼ Cup Raw Honey (or to taste)
  • Fresh Peppermint Leaves (for Garnish)

Variation:

Stir in 1 tablespoon dark cocoa after honey is dissolved.

Directions:

Pour boiling water over dried peppermint; cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain, then stir in honey until dissolved. Pour mixture into a shallow baking pan. Freeze for 30 minutes, then break up partially frozen mixture with a fork. Return to freezer and repeat this process three more times. To serve, scrape pieces with a fork into 4 wide glasses. Top with fresh peppermint leaves.

Simple Raw Chocolate Mint Fudge

Serves 25

Ingredients:

  • ½ Cup Raw Dark Cocoa Powder
  • ½ Cup Raw Coconut Oil (solid form)
  • ½ Cup Raw Honey
  • 10 Drops Peppermint Oil

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. (Warm slightly to mix, if necessary). Press into a 5 X 5 inch container. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut into one-inch squares and serve. Variations: Add any favourite essential oils, shredded coconut, favourite nuts and/or seeds, vanilla, sea salt, cinnamon, raisins (or other chopped fruit). Try lavender or hisbiscus!

Rebecca Mullins RHN is a North Bay-based Registered Holistic Nutritionist.

May 21, 2018