Our vegetable garden is failing again this year – the spinach and rainbow chard look weak and weary, the kale is wobbly and the potatoes (which might be worth a post in August) have taken over in a way I wasn’t expecting. But at least I’ve got the mint… writes Dr Susan Aldridge, HS guest blogger, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.
There are up to 20 varieties of culinary mint. Last year’s chocolate mint bounced back impressively so I bought basil mint and spearmint. I put them in big pots and they have done really well. A quick browse through gardening catalogues shows that pineapple, Moroccan, apple and grapefruit mint plants are also available – so ideas for next year’s collection.
Now to health benefits. Mint is very high in antioxidants – but surely you’d have to eat a lot to get any positives? I think mint has more to offer if you use its soothing and refreshing qualities for healthy summer recipes that replace sugar and salt. So, I’ve created one for each of my mint varieties. We also have a very healthy lemon balm plant, which features in the first recipe. The dip and salad are perfect for summer barbeques!
Mint water/mint tea
At the start of the day, add crushed chocolate mint leaves, lime and/or lemon slices to a big jug of water. Add ice. Drink throughout the day to keep hydrated. Top up the ice cubes. If you want to make it pink, add some pure pomegranate juice.
For the tea, pour boiling water onto a handful of lemon balm and mint leaves. Drink while warm, or leave to cool, add ice and drink cold. This is definitely soothing, refreshing and [warm] aids sleep.
200g high-protein/Greek yoghurt
Two garlic cloves
One tbsp. flax seed oil
Handful of spearmint leaves
Half a cucumber (grated)
Whizz all ingredients, except the cucumber, in a Nutribullet or blender to make a thick sauce. Stir in the cucumber.
Mint tomato salad
Handful of chopped basil mint
100g tomatoes – go for two varieties (eg plum, heritage, cherry, salad etc)
One red onion/three shallots and/or two chopped cloves garlic
One tub of your favourite deli olives
Flax seed or olive oil
Mix all the salad ingredients, dress with the oil and mint