We all know mint as the wonderfully refreshing herb that makes our mouths feel nice and clean and settles our stomachs after a big meal. But did you know that mint is good for more than just freshening your breath? Just a few tablespoons of fresh mint leaves are a good source of vitamin A and the minerals iron and manganese. And, of course, a good source of minty fresh breath!
Mint likes cool, moist places, and is very easy to grow—almost too easy! If left to its own devices, mint can quickly overtake a whole garden! One way to help prevent this is to grow it in bottomless containers in the ground, which will help keep it from spreading. Mint can be variable if grown from seed, so try starting with seedlings or small plants. Herbs like mint are also good for indoor growing, for those without outdoor garden space. When it’s time to harvest, just snip the leaves off from the stems.
Mint is a really versatile herb. It’s a great addition to grain salads, like tabbouleh, or chopped summer veggie salads. It can also be used, fresh or dried, to make tea. Or, if summer has you craving colder beverages, add mint leaves to homemade iced tea or lemonade. Mash or chop the leaves a bit first to release the most flavor. Mint even makes an appearance in our popular raspberry fruit spread! Since it’s summer time, I also wanted to share this super yummy recipe for shrimp kebabs on the grill! Fresh mint adds a ton of flavor to this light, summery, BBQ-worthy meal.
Citrus and Herb Shrimp Kebabs
Summer means grilling, and grilling means kebabs. Bright citrus flavors and fresh herbs make these shrimp kebabs a warm-weather classic that you’ll be sure to make year after year. The natural citrus juices are loaded with vitamins A and C to keep your immune system in tip-top shape.
Kids can skewer shrimp and vegetables.
8 bamboo skewers
1 1⁄2 cups water
1 cup jasmine rice
2 medium (10 ounces each) zucchini
2 medium yellow bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1⁄2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Juice and grated peel of 1 orange, 1 lemon, and 1 lime
1 tablespoon grated, peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 pound large shrimp (about 24), shelled and deveined with tail part of shells left on
1⁄4 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
- Soak skewers in water for 20 minutes to help prevent burning. In a medium saucepan, heat 11⁄2 cups water and rice to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 15–20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. (Or cook in a rice cooker as the manufacturer directs.) Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
- Meanwhile, cut each zucchini in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1⁄2-inch-thick half moons. Cut peppers into 1-inch pieces. In a medium bowl, toss vegetables with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper; set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together mint, basil, and chives. In a food processor, blend citrus juices and peel, ginger, garlic, half of herb mixture, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil until pureed. Transfer 2 tablespoons citrus mixture to a small serving bowl. Stir in yogurt and set aside.
- Into a medium bowl, pour the remaining citrus mixture; stir in 1/8 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Add shrimp and toss to coat well.
- Prepare outdoor grill for grilling over medium-high heat. Grease grill grate.
- Thread the shrimp on 4 skewers (discard citrus mixture) and vegetables on remaining skewers, alternating zucchini and yellow peppers.
- Grill the shrimp for about 4–5 minutes, turning once or until opaque, and grill the vegetables for about 10 minutes or until tender-crisp, turning skewers occasionally. Remove shrimp and vegetables from skewers and place on a platter.
- ￼￼￼￼￼Stir parsley and remaining herb mixture into rice. Spoon rice onto 8 plates; top with shrimp and vegetables. Drizzle with yogurt sauce.
Makes 8 servings (1⁄2 cup rice, 1⁄2 vegetable skewer, and 3 shrimp per serving)
Nutrition Facts per serving: 130 calories; 4g fat (0.5g sat fat, 3g mono, 0.5g poly, 0g trans fat); 35mg cholesterol; 17g carbohydrate (2g fiber, 3g sugar); 7g protein; 65mg sodium; 10% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 130% DV vitamin C; 6% DV calcium; 8% DV iron.
￼￼￼￼Do you like mint? How do you use it?
– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.