day 269 – Peppermint

As I sip my peppermint tea, I capture brisk, sweet flavor and follow the liquid to my digestive track in a meditative state (eyes closed) and fathom the healing power of herbs.

Rats and pesky ants despise peppermint.  It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to deter rodents from stored grain and cheese.  Seldom have I observed ants crawling anywhere near peppermint and the essential oil placed in tiny openings is a natural deterrent.

Peppermint contains a high dosage of menthol.  Steeped as a tea, this leaf encourages digestion, soothes tummies and can even relieve nausea.

Steep one teaspoon of dried leaves or 1-2 tablespoons of fresh leaves, covered, for @ 5 minutes, in one cup of hot water.  Hot peppermint tea will cool you down in the summer or during a hot flash.  It stimulates certain nerves below the skin that respond to coolness.  It also chillls you topically, on your skin.  Splash some tea onto your skin after cleansing or spritz throughout a hot summer day to stay fresh.

Peppermint spreads quickly planted in your yard and takes over wherever you plant it so I advise you to keep it in a container or let it roam in an area where you feel a need for greenery.

In cooking, it balances spicy foods in Middle Eastern, African, Indian and Asian cuisines.  It harmonizes well with either sweet or savory, fiery dishes.

Play with making tea by combining peppermint with rosemary, Chinese star anise, lavender, rose buds or lemon peel.  Sweeten with honey, stevia or organic coconut sugar and sip warm or serve over ice.  Cyclists from the Tour de France swear by mint and rosemary tea as a stimulant ( and it doesn’t disqualify you from racing).

Here’s an interesting recipe that is simple and easy.  Don’t let the 12 ingredients fool you.  Read it through.  Feel free to substitute with whatever grain or dried fruit you have.  The nuts are optional.  I love raw organic walnuts, chopped, in almost everything.  The key is the flavor profile and the use of your fresh mint from the garden in a healthful and novel way.  Expand and elevate your repertoire tonight!

Exotic Brown Basmati Rice

 Makes 4 servings as a side or feeds 2 hungry vegetarians

2 tablespoons of olive oil or a combination of 1 tbs. oil/1 tbs. butter

1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 – 1 1/2 cup)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 large tomato, chopped or ½ – 3/4 cup stewed tomato

2 – 3 tablespoons raisins or other dried fruit without sulfites

½ cup cooked garbanzos

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon crushed saffron

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 cups cooked rice

5-6 tablespoons of chopped fresh peppermint

Optional:   2- 3 tablespoons of chopped nuts, preferably raw and and/or organic

Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic @ 5 minutes.  Add the tomato, dried fruit, chick peas, and spices.  Cook for @ 5 minutes, covered.  Remove from heat.  Toss the rice, fragrant and exotic sauce and fresh mint and choice of nuts together in a medium bowl to combine.  Serve warm or at room temp as a side or atop organic baby greens for a summertime salad!!  Buen Provecho!

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