4 Fresh Ways to Use Fresh Mint This Spring

Mint is a trooper. No matter how bedraggled it gets in the wintertime, no matter how much snow falls on it or frost freezes it or feet trample it, mint always comes back to life in early spring with renewed vigor. After the tough year we’ve just had, we could all take some inspiration from this perseverant plant, allowing spring to refresh our minds, bodies, and spirits. 

4 Fresh Ways to Use Fresh Mint This Spring

2 Kinds of Mint

 There are many kinds of mint, but the two most popular are spearmint and peppermint. Both mints are part of the mentha family, but each has its own unique properties.

  • Spearmint: Of the two mints, spearmint is the easy-going one. It has a mild, pleasant flavor that’s light and delicate, thanks to its concentration of carvone.[1] Because it has a slightly sweet taste, spearmint tends to be used in savory recipes. (It’s all about balance.) On the nutritional side, spearmint is an antioxidant herb and provides small amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin A (as beta carotene), and flavonols.[2]
  • Peppermint: Peppermint is no wallflower. It’s bold and invigorating, with a taste that leans more spicy than sweet, due to its higher menthol content.[3] That’s why it pairs well with sweet tastes like chocolate. Peppermint also has health properties. Traditional herbalists use the herb for occasional digestive complaints, such as flatulence, upset stomach, and nausea.*[4,5,6] Like spearmint, this peppery mint has antioxidant properties, as well as trace amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.*[7]

 

Tips for Growing Mint

Mint is a speedy grower, so if you grow it yourself, you may soon find yourself with plenty of those fragrant leaves on hand. In fact, mint will take over your garden if you let it, so it’s best to grow it in a large container. If you can, harvest on a sunny day in the mid-morning, as strong sunlight brings out its volatile oils and that minty taste will be at its peak.

You can dry mint by tying it into bundles and hanging it upside down to airdry. You can also use a dehydrator or an oven on low heat overnight.

 

4 Ways to Enjoy Mint

1. Tea: The simplest way to enjoy fresh mint is to make tea out of it. Tear up the leaves, put them in a French press or teapot, steep for 3–7 minutes, and strain. Voilà, mint tea! You’ll notice mint tea made with fresh mint leaves has a decidedly different taste than mint tea made with dried leaves. That’s because the fresh leaves retain the essential oils naturally present in the plant. On chilly days, drink your mint tea hot and then as the weather gets warmer, try it iced.

2. Strawberry-Mint Salad: Spring means luscious, in-season strawberries, and when strawberries meet mint, a beautiful salad is born. Slice the berries, chop the mint, add a few dollops of goat cheese, and toss with a high-quality olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar (the sweet, syrupy kind).

3. Mint-Chocolate Chip Smoothie: This “milkshake,” from the Real Foods Dietitians, tastes indulgent, but it’s actually quite healthy, getting its greenish color from spinach and avocado and its sweetness from banana and chocolate protein powder.[8] We humbly recommend our own Whey Factors® Grass Fed Whey Protein in Double Chocolate.

1 handful fresh spinach
1 cup dairy or plant-based milk
1 cup ice
½ small avocado
1 medium banana, frozen
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
2–3 T Whey Factors® Grass Fed Whey Protein, Double Chocolate
1–2 T cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips, plus more for garnish
Whipped cream, optional

Blend all ingredients except chocolate chips on high for 60 seconds or until creamy, then add chips and pulse for 10 seconds. Add whipped cream, remaining chips, and a mint leaf.

4. Mojito Mocktail: This virgin mojito from the BBC’s Good Food magazine has all the refreshing minty goodness of a regular mojito, but without the alcohol.[9]

1 T sugar
Small bunch mint
Crushed ice
Juice of 3 limes
Seltzer

Crush the mint leaves with the sugar in a mortar and pestle or use a small bowl and the end of a rolling pin. Divide a handful of crushed ice and the lime juice between two glasses. Add the mint and top off the glasses with seltzer. Kick back and enjoy.

 

References

[1] Higley A. What’s the difference between peppermint and spearmint? Reader’s Digest. 2020 Dec. 16. https://www.rd.com/article/difference-between-peppermint-and-spearmint/

[2] Turkoglu S. Assessment of wild mint from Tunceli as a source of bioactive compounds, and its antioxidant activity. Cell Mol Biol. 2015 Dec;61(8):63-68.

[3] Higley A, 2020.

[4] Rodriguez-Fragaso L, et al. Risks and benefits of commonly used herbal medicines in Mexico. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2008 Feb 15;227(1): 125-35. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18037151/

[5] Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. 2000. Boston, MA. Integrative Medicine Communications.

[6] Hoffman D. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. 2003. Rochester, VT. Healing Arts Press.

[7] Ware, M. Olsen N. Is mint good for you? Medical News Today. 2019 Dec 4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275944#_noHeaderPrefixedContent

[8] Mint chocolate chip milkshake (Shamrock shake recipe). Real Food Dietitians. 2021 Mar 1. https://therealfoodrds.com/mint-chocolate-chip-shake/

[9] Virgin mojito. Good Food. BBC. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/mojito-mocktail