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Do You Know Why Mint Is So Healthy? Find Out!

Curious about using mint in your recipes? Mint (Mentha) is a perennial herb indigenous to Europe, with over 25 different species across the globe. One of the most common varieties is peppermint (Mentha aquatic), which is more potent and typically associated with culinary and medicinal use. 

Menthol, the active ingredient in mint that gives it its characteristic flavor, is more concentrated in peppermint (Mentha piperata) than in spearmint (Menthe spicata), and is considered an aid in digestion and a stomach-calmer. Oil of peppermint has also been used to stop the growth of bacterial, viral and fungal infections, and to address asthma, sinusitis, allergy-related colds and other respiratory issues. Nutritionally, peppermint is a good source of vitamins A and C, along with manganese, and copper.

Opt for fresh mint as it provides more flavor and look for leaves that are brightly colored. Wrap the mint leaves in a damp paper towel that loosely holds the leaves and place them in a sealed plastic bag. They should keep for several days in the fridge.

Here are some great recipes that incorporate mint: 
Minted Guacamole & Pomegranate
Honey Ginger Lemonade

Buying, Using And Storing Herbs: 4 Rules To Follow

Herbs and spices have a prominent position on my Anti-Inflammatory Diet Pyramid because these culinary staples offer not only flavor enhancement to foods, but some are also healthful compounds that can both lower disease risk and alleviate symptoms of existing health concerns.

When it comes to herbs and spices (herbs are typically the leafy, green portions of a plant, while spices are derived from other parts including seeds, berries, fruits, bark and roots), knowing how to buy and store them can help keep them fresher, longer. Use these tips: 

  1. Fresh is best when it comes to flavor. Growing your own herbs is not only cost effective, but offers up freshness to every meal. Even if you have no room for a vegetable garden, a few pots in a sunny window can produce a handful of herbs for you to use. If you simply can't grow them, take advantage of the fresh herbs that are now widely available in the produce section of most supermarkets and natural food stores.
  2. Dried herbs often suffer from muted flavors because the essential oils have volatized away. Two ways to encourage the flavor to return - crush with your fingers or a mortar and pestle just before cooking to release the oils that remain. You can also briefly sauté them with olive oil on low heat.
  3. If you do use dried herbs and spices, store them in tightly covered containers away from light, heat and moisture. Don't sprinkle from a container into a steaming pot - the steam will enter the container and degrade the spice over time. Instead, shake into your palm, away from the steam, before adding to the dish.
  4. Generally speaking, dried, ground herbs and spices are typically good for up to six months.

Feeling Anxious? Try This Herb

Anxiety your mental can wreak havoc on and physical health. If physical exercise and mind-body therapies such as breathing aren’t providing sufficient relief, consider this herb.

Feeling anxious is stressful for our bodies and minds. Instead of taking a pharmaceutical to help quell anxiety, consider Kava. Extracted from a tropical plant (Piper methysticum), kava is related to black pepper and native to islands of the South Pacific, where it has a long history of use as a social and recreational drug. Kava is an excellent anti-anxiety remedy - it works quickly to relieve anxiety, often with one or two doses, and has been shown in controlled human trials to be as effective as benzodiazepine drugs (ie. Valium and Xanax). It provides a sedative effect as well.

Because of rare reports of liver toxicity associated with certain types of kava products, no one with a history of liver disease should use kava.  It may have additive effect with alcohol and other depressant drugs, and may interfere with the metabolism of a large number of medications - ask your doctor. Otherwise it is generally safe. You can buy powdered whole kava root to make into tea or other drinks, but I usually recommend extracts standardized to 30 percent kavalactones. Dosage is 100 to 200 mg, two or three times a day as needed.  Don't use it continually over long periods of time (more than a few months).

4 Reasons to Eat Garlic

A kitchen staple, garlic offers more than taste to your meals – it has health benefits as well. Find out what garlic can do for you, and why chopping it and letting it sit for 10 minutes before using it is a kitchen must.

Garlic is more than a culinary mainstay that can add flavor to meals; it is a natural, traditional medicine that has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Research indicates regular consumption of garlic may:

  1. Alter how cholesterol is metabolized in the body, making it less likely to oxidize.
  2. Lower blood pressure and decreasing clot formation, thus reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
  3. Combat respiratory infections such as common colds and sore throats.
  4. Reduce fungal or yeast infections.

Eating raw garlic (chopped or mashed) releases the herb's full potential. That’s because the active component, allicin, forms only on contact with air. I suggest chopping garlic and letting it sit for 10 minutes to get the full health-giving potential. Garlic loses its antibiotic properties when you cook or dry it, and commercial garlic capsules do not preserve the full activity of the fresh bulb.

You can make raw garlic more palatable by chopping it fine, mixing it with food and eating it with a meal, or cut a clove into chunks and swallow them whole like pills.

Try these appetizers featuring garlic: