Summer’s Darling Herb: Fresh Mint (+ A Minty Salad Recipe)
Summer is here, and the words “fresh mint” conjure up refreshing visuals of mint sprigs in frosty tumblers. While I am sure you are all set to enjoy the many pleasures of mint this season, here is some fun, up-close information on the herb to make you love it even more:
The name “mint“: Short and sweet, but who knew—the name has a romantic and scandalous Greek story behind it! Hades, the God of the Underworld, fell in love with Minthe, a river nymph. When Persephone, Hades’s wife, found out, she turned Minthe into a plant, so that everyone would walk all over her and crush her. Unable to undo the spell, Hades gave Minthe a magnificent aroma so that he could smell her and be near her when people trod on her.
The Aroma: There are times when you need to concentrate, but your tired mind and sluggish body just won’t cooperate. Let mint come to the rescue! The Washington Post cites a 1990s study at University of Cincinnati, in which a whiff of peppermint helped test subjects concentrate and do better on tasks that required sustained concentration. Sitting long hours at your desk? Soak a cotton ball in mint essential oil, and place it next to your computer. Driving a long distance in the middle of the night? Take a mint-soaked cotton ball along. (Avoid car air fresheners, which can contain toxic chemicals).
The Nutrients: Mint contains several vital vitamins and minerals—Vitamin A and C, smaller amounts of Vitamin B2, calcium, zinc, copper and magnesium. Whenever possible, buy fresh mint over the dried form of the herb, since it is superior in flavor and rich in phytonutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. And even though mint is mostly consumed in small quantities, the vital nutrients obtained are still beneficial and shouldn’t be underestimated.
The Cool Quotient: Mint contains many essential volatile oils like menthol, menthone, menthol acetate. These compounds act on cold-sensitive receptors in the skin, mouth and throat, the property which is responsible for the natural cooling-sensation that it initiates when inhaled, eaten, or applied on the skin.
Minty Chickpea and Cottage Cheese Salad
1 large cup chickpeas, drained
¼ red pepper, chopped
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Freshly grated ginger
½ cup low-fat cottage cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A few mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Mix everything together and enjoy a satisfying, summery salad.
What are your favorite ways to use mint?