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Fresh Living

mint-leaves.jpgWith the wild weather we’ve had so far this summer, it’s been a weird year in my garden.  Except that I’ve enjoyed one victory that I’ve never before been able to accomplish–the pot of mint I started in the spring has transformed into a full-fledged flourishing, fragrant plant!

To celebrate my herbaceous victory (strange, isn’t it, how most gardeners have at least one thing that they’re just not good at?  For me it’s always been herbs) and Foodie Friday in one shot, here are 5 ways to use fresh mint for better health, good eating, and summer joy:

1.  Freshen Up Tea Time: There’s nothing like the scent that wafts up when boiling water hits just-picked mint leaves.  It will refresh and relax you simultaneously, a rare quality in any plant.  Save the left-overs to pour over ice, and you’re officially sipping the spirit of summer.  A heathy aside – mint relaxes digestive tract muscles and relieves cramping, so it’s even more yummy for your tummy.

2.  Bring Your Feet Back to Life: If summer sandals have done a number on your tootsies, try this minty foot scrub recipe from Health.com: Combine 1 cup sea salt, 1/3 cup olive oil, and 6 drops peppermint
essential oil. Scrub feet, then rinse. The salt exfoliates, and mint’s
menthol soothes sore muscles.

3.  Make It Savory:  In places from Morocco to Thailand, mint enlivens savory dishes with its bracing, fresh bite.  One of my favorite savory mint uses, inspired by the fabulous Elephant Walk restaurant, is to wrap a piping hot spring roll in a large lettuce leaf, tucking in a few sprigs of mint and basil.  The cool crunch of the green stuff against the salty, hot goodness of the spring roll is a serious experience indeed.

4.  Infuse It: Make a minty vinegar by boiling white vinegar with orange peel and fresh mint leaves.  Make a dessert-or-drink-ready simple syrup by boiling a cup each of water, sugar, and mint leaves.  Make a bracing spirit by adding your simple syrup to a big pile of mint leaves and a bottle of good vodka.  The essential oils in mint stand ready to lend themselves to almost any carrier you can think of.

5.  Use It For Health:  According to this article, mint can be used to prevent everything from nasal congestion to mental fogginess to bad breath to headaches.  So why not give it a go in your diet?

What’s your favorite way to use mint?      

(image via: http://expat21.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/party-with-authentic-cuban-mohitos-from-havana/)

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