Herb Garden Series – Mint

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Some say that mint is a weed, and in my experience, it certainly grows like one! I wouldn’t be without it in my herb garden.

I have to tame my garden mint more than once a year, as it spreads across the flower bed that it grows next to. In the past, I’ve had mint planted in a pot and planted in the garden to keep it from taking over.

Mint has many medicinal offerings, with the most popular being a digestive aid. Drinking mint tea or eating a peppermint often settles an upset or bloated stomach and eases IBS symptoms and heartburn. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungus, relieves congestion and headaches, cleanses your palate, relieves bad breath, and is calming. The essential oil from mint – menthol – is found in non-consumable products like chest rubs, lipstick, shampoo and body lotion.

As for using mint in cooking, summertime new potatoes aren’t the same without a few mint leaves added. Have you every tried tabbouleh, a typical Middle Eastern salad dish? It’s teeming with mint. I make my own mint sauce to accompany lamb, toss a few leaves into a curry, add to a leafy or cucumber salad, and make tea with it. Babies gobble up my mint and peas recipe in my book, Sprout Right, while parents giggle when their next slobbery kiss is a minty one.

As with all herbs, mint offers some important nutrients; vitamins A and C, minerals manganese, copper, iron, potassium and calcium.

The most common types of mint are peppermint and the milder spearmint. One of my daughter’s favourites was chocolate mint. They never made it into any cooking as they ate the leaves right off the plant before they could make their way inside.

Summer wouldn’t be the same without a pitcher of mint iced tea, good friends and comfortable chairs on the back deck. Try out this recipe with your kids and invite friends over and let them brag about what they’ve made.

Mint Iced Tea with Lemon
Large bunch or mound of mint, washed
Kettle full of water
1 – 2 lemons
1/4 cup agave syrup or honey (more or less to taste)

Place mint in a large bowl. Pour hot water over and let steep until cool. Strain into a pitcher and press the mint into the strainer to get out more of the flavour out. Squeeze in lemon and stir in honey or agave to taste. Add in ice cubes and serve with a few fresh mint leaves.

What’s your favourite iced tea to make in the summer?

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