Monday, July 2, 2012

July's Herb of the Month

It's hard to believe that we are in the second half of 2012. Summer is a wonderful time for you to relax, have more fun, and rejuvenate; to refresh your body and soul.  July's herb of the month aligns perfectly with the summer season.

Derived from the Greek word Mintha.

Mint is another fine example of the thorough knowledge the earliest civilizations had about natural remedies and healing.  We are slowly returning to the natural wisdom nature has provided us for millennia.

This versatile herb was brought over by the colonists on the Mayflower.  It is steeped in history and had and still has a variety of uses. The Egyptians, once again, used this herb over 3,000 years ago.  Other earlier civilizations are documented for their use of mint too.  There are 40 varieties of mint, the most common are spearmint, peppermint and penny royal.

Mint makes you feel good through your sense of smell, it can be both uplifting and calming and healing with it's cooling properties throughout your body and for the stomach.  It aides in digestion, motion sickness, colds, the flu, fevers, is used in chest rubs and cools skin irritations.  It is antispasmodic, diaphoretic and a stimulant.  If you have GERD or take certain medications check with your health practitioner before using or eating peppermint. The jury is still out with regards to it's use with homeopathic medicines due to new studies and inconclusive findings.

Mint on the Rocks
Mint goes wonderfully in recipes with fruits, vegetables and or meat.  Since mint has a cooling effect it's use is very welcome during the hot summer. Some cooling uses of mint are mint iced water, mint sun tea, mint ices or sherbet and in dairy or non dairy ice cream where homemade is supreme sans all the chemicals.  I love chocolate and mint together. My favorite summer cool down treat is anything frozen and partially thawed that is chocolate and mint. Then there is the delicious southern drink the Mint Julep, for those inclined to something fancy.

Mint is also used to flavor yogurt, dressings, soups, for dental health in toothpaste and chewing gum and adds a nice cooling effect in liqueurs.

This is a salad recipe I concocted with ingredients on hand that would be cooling on a hot summer day.  Feel free to use any ingredients you like.  I have a new found favorite salad ingredient that I just love, fresh peaches. 

And remember, use organic fruits and vegetables for great taste, better health, and to support your local small farms and markets.

Salad greens, baby spinach, rainbow chard, kale any or all of your favorite greens
1 large cucumber
1 large fresh peach
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 large pinches of a variety of your favorite sprouts
1 mango cut into pieces optional - not local of course
6 - 8 mint leaves

Your favorite 2 oils, non-hydrogenated
White wine vinegar
1-2 Fresh squeezed sweet valencia or sweet blood orange
1/8 small red onion
1/2 medium sized clove garlic
Mango juice
Peach Juice
Red chili pepper seeds, to your hotness level, optional

Wash the greens and tear into pieces place in a large bowl
Cut cucumber in small chunky pieces place in the bowl
Cut peach into chunky pieces, if juicy cut over a small bowl
to reserve the juice, place fruit in the bowl
Cut mango into pieces reserve the juice, place fruit in the bowl, optional
Wash blueberries place in the bowl
Wash and add sprouts
Chop garlic
Rinse, chop or tear the mint and basil leaves

Drizzle the oils on the salad to your liking, toss
Combine the vinegar, orange juice, reserved juices in a separate bowl, whisk
Chop red onion add to this bowl
Add chopped garlic
Add some of the basil and mint, whisk
Add some stevia or your favorite sweetener if needed, optional, whisk

Add dressing to the salad tossing well to incorporate
The amount of dressing you make is equal to the size,
number of servings, of the salad you make or make plenty and store
in the refrigerator
Add the remaining basil and mint

Dressing works well as a marinade for tempeh, tofu, fish or meat.

Tip: Oils can be seed, nut, or vegetable oils for example hemp, flax, sunflower, pumpkin, grapeseed, sesame, almond, hazelnut, or olive.

What are some of your favorite summer salads?  Let us also know if you like to be creative, reach out to different/unusual  salad ingredients and use what you have on hand in the refrigerator in the comment section below.

Homemade Raw ice cream:

2 Frozen organic bananas
3 Heaping TB of raw cacao powder, more if you like
2-3 TB  organic peanut butter
20 -24 Drops peppermint spirits extract or a non-alcohol extract
2 oz Coconut water 
Sweetener to your taste, optional - raw coconut sap, raw green stevia, raw honey, 
maple syrup (not raw), xylitol (not raw - from the Birch tree is best, most now from corn)
Tip: double, triple recipe etc. for the number of servings you want.
These amounts make 1 serving.


Add coconut water to your blender or food processor
Cut frozen bananas into slices 1 inch thick
Add bananas couple at a time to the blender/processor
Pulse slowly
Add a drop of water to cacao, mix
Add cacao slowly into blender/processor, mix, then add more
Add peanut butter slowly, a little at a time until everything is
Scrape down sides and blend again
Add peppermint, blend
Place in glass bowl(s)

Tip: For a creamier ice cream you may add one of the following:
fresh coconut meat of 1 Thai coconut
1 medium unfrozen ripe banana, it should smell sweet
1 -2 TB  Lucama powder (also a thickener)
Irish Moss powder this affects the taste some (also a thickener)
1- 3 TB Arrowroot powder  (also a thickener)

For the last 3 put one in a little at a time and stir or blend. Let ice cream sit 20 minutes or so in the refrigerator to see how well it thickens. Add more if you like it creamier and thicker.  Stir  or whisk to make it creamier. Place in freezer.

For more of an ice do not make it creamier or thicker.