Mint Recipe & Nutrition | Precision Nutrition's Encyclopedia of Food

Mint

Mint

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At a Glance

Mint is an aromatic herb known for its bright, clean flavor. While many varieties exist, the most common is probably spearmint: a fairly mild, versatile herb that can be used in savory and sweet recipes. Nutritionally, mint offers vitamin A, manganese, iron, and even Omega-3 fatty acids.

Overview

Mint is an aromatic, perennial herb known for its edible leaves and bright, crisp flavor.

There are many hybrids and cultivars within the mint genus of plants. Each type of mint is a bit different: leaves may be broad or narrow, their color may be bright green, pale green, or even purple, and their flavor may be bold and bright or mild and sweet.

While you can find dried mint on the spice rack, fresh mint is best: it offers the best flavor, versatility and nutritional value.

If buying mint from the grocery store, you’re most likely to find spearmint or peppermint. (If the package is just labelled “mint” there is a good chance it’s spearmint.) You’re more apt to find unusual varieties at a farmer’s market in the summer months.

Identification

Spearmint is bright green, with flat, slightly jagged leaves on a tough stem.

If you’re not sure whether an herb is mint, smell it. It will have that distinctive menthol scent. Spearmint is usually milder and sweeter, compared to peppermint, which is stronger. (Peppermint actually contains menthol while spearmint does not.)

Note: spearmint is often simply labeled ‘mint’ in the grocery store.

Nutrition Info

Two tablespoons of fresh spearmint contains 5 calories, 0.38g of protein, 0.96g of carbohydrates, and 0.80g of fiber.

Mint also offers vitamin A, vitamin C, Iron, folate, manganese, calcium, and even Omega-3 fatty acids.

Selection

Look for bright green, unblemished leaves. Leaves will start to turn black as they decay.

If you can find them, fresh bundles of herbs with the roots attached tend to be freshest. However, packaged herbs will do just fine.

Storage

Cut herbs are best enjoyed within a few days after purchase.

If you want the herbs to last longer, place stems in a glass of water, covered loosely with a plastic bag and keep them in the fridge. Replace the water every few days. Using this method should help the plant stay fresh for up to a week.

(Better yet: try growing mint in your garden or in a pot on your kitchen window. Fair warning: mint grows fast and can encroach upon other plants if not regularly cut back.)

While storing mint, keep the stems intact and remove the leaves only once you’re ready to use them.

For longer storage, you may consider freezing or drying your mint. To freeze, finely chop the herbs, place the mixture into ice cube trays, then top with water and freeze. To dry, lay the leaves on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake at very low heat – about 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 – 30 minutes.

Preparation

Mint can be used in savory or sweet preparations. For example: two classic pairings are lamb with mint sauce, and chocolate-mint desserts.

Common spearmint is best for savory preparations, while the strong menthol flavor of peppermint makes it more suitable for desserts.

To use mint, simply pinch the leaves at their base and remove them from the plant. You can use the leaves whole, tear them, or chop them finely, depending on the texture and taste you’re going for. Prepare the leaves just before using them – once they are removed from the plant they will start to wilt. Handle the leaves as gently as possible: handling them roughly can cause bruising.

Try adding fresh mint to salads or salad dressings, sauces, or salsas. Mint can also be a great addition to drinks, such as smoothies, cocktails, or juices. Mint also makes a great garnish: add a couple leaves to your dish for a nutritious boost of flavor.

Recipe: Asian Mint and Chicken Salad with Lime Dressing

Mint

"Salads are boring!” said no one ever...who has tried this salad. This salad has personality. Bursting with Asian-inspired flavors, this salad is complex, herbaceous, and zingy. It makes for a great, light meal.

Ingredients

    
DRESSING:
lime juice
2 tbsp
fish sauce*
1 tbsp
toasted sesame seed oil
1 tbsp
honey
1 tbsp
     
      
      
SALAD:
cabbage, sliced in fine ribbons
2 cups
sugar snap peas, chopped, tough ends removed
1 cup
fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1 cup
chicken breast, grilled and sliced*
1 large

Directions

Prep Time: 20 minutes   Cook Time: 15 minutes   Yield: 2 salads

Dressing Directions:

Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until smooth.

 

Salad Directions:

Prepare all salad ingredients and place them in a large bowl. Next, pour salad dressing over vegetables and toss until coated.

Serve into individual bowls and top with choice of protein.

Enjoy immediately!

 

*For a vegan version, substitute fish sauce for tamari sauce, and grilled chicken for grilled cubes of tofu or tempeh.

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At a Glance

Mint is an aromatic herb known for its bright, clean flavor. While many varieties exist, the most common is probably spearmint: a fairly mild, versatile herb that can be used in savory and sweet recipes. Nutritionally, mint offers vitamin A, manganese, iron, and even Omega-3 fatty acids.