Superfood 101: Peppermint!

Peppermint is in the genus Mentha which includes more than one hundred species, and is thought to be a natural hybrid of spearmint and forest mint. Its origin is believed to be in North Africa and the southern Mediterranean basin, and has been used in recipes and as a medicinal herb since 1500 B.C.E.  It found its way as far north as Scandinavia and was mentioned in the Icelandic Pharmacopoeias in the mid-13th Century. Then, in the mid-17th Century peppermint no longer was termed generically as “mint” but became classified as a subspecies. It was also known as a medicinal herb in North America and was cultivated by the Native Peoples. Peppermint contains many vitamins and minerals that help maintain a healthy body and have been used in both Ayurveda and holistic healing therapies.

Peppermint is known in Ayurveda as pudina and has been included in holistic healing as a tea and as an essential oil.

Peppermint contains vast healing properties. Here are 5 of them:

1. Because of its basic Ayurveda properties, peppermint oil is used in various digestive disorders like nausea, ulcers, flatulence and gastrointestinal disorders. It is also used as a cold treatment in the form of tea. 

2. Peppermint is balancing to all three Ayurvedic doshas or energies. For Kapha, peppermint is essential for lubricating the body as it adds energy and provides stability to both body and mind. In Pitta, peppermint controls metabolism, digestion and sensory perceptions and is used to balance temper, provide hair health and decrease acid. For Vata dosha, peppermint controls movement of the body and the mind and controls elimination, circulation and breathing.

3. Holistic healers use peppermint because it contains vitamins A and C, magnesium, copper, potassium, sulfur, iron, iodine, silicon and niacin. It is effective in treating headaches, gall bladder disorders and Crohn's disease.

4. Peppermint is used in holistic treatments to relieve the symptoms of colds, ease coughs and clear nasal passages. It is also a decongestant used in the healing of respiratory ailments that include bronchitis and asthma.

In the medicine cabinet or in the kitchen, peppermint is a valuable addition to the home. It makes holiday and everyday recipes a special treat.

Recipe: Peppermint Cookies

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ingredients

2          cups                Flour

½         pound              Butter (2 sticks)

1          8 oz.                Cream Cheese

¼         cup                  Powdered Sugar

½         teaspoon         Peppermint Extract

Directions

1.         Place butter and cream cheese in a bowl and let stand for about ½ an hour, or until soft.

2.         Combine butter and cream cheese until the mixture reaches a lemon yellow color.

3.         Blend in peppermint extract.

4.         Add powdered sugar until thoroughly blended.

5.         Add flour until bowl is clean.

6.         Divide dough in half.

7.         Form each half into 2 inch diameter logs and wrap each log in waxed paper.

8.         Refrigerate for at least ½ hour.

9.         Take one log from the refrigerator, unwrap, and cut into 1/8 inch disks.

10.       Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden.

11.       Remove cookies from the cookie sheet and let cool.

12.       When the first log is done then repeat direction numbers 9, 10, and 11.

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