Gluten Free Recipes
We love to snack. Why not have vegetable sticks or healthy crackers on hand and serve with a healthy dip?
Reading the ingredient panel on a container of store-bought dip is incredible. Why choose a concoction of MSG, artificial flavours, and unpronounceable preservatives when a delicious, fresh dip requires little more than a spin through the food processor? Plus, you can add nutritious spices and seeds and other ingredients to your liking. People with a nutrition degree online would agree this is an excellent idea.
Dips are a delicious and easy way to add a healthy bean boost to the week, without all of the bad ingredients of a ready-made dip or the old kiwi favourite “Maggi onion soup and reduced cream”. Hummus, a healthy tomato salsa or guacamole are preferable to a dip made with cream or other rich ingredients.
Many people consider mint in a weed. We all know that unless it is contained it will spread everywhere in your garden and turn up far away from where it was originally planted. I’ve got pots of mint near my garden because mint is a great plant for companion planting. It aids in the growth of at least sixteen different vegetables but makes a bad companion plant for a pair of herbs.
Mint is known to have originated in Asia and the Mediterranean region. In many cultures, mint symbolised hospitality and was offered as a sign of welcome and friendship to guests as they arrived. In the Middle East mint tea is still served to guests on their arrival, whilst in ancient Greece, the leaves of mint were rubbed onto the dining table, which was a sign of their warm greeting.
Mint was also often used as an air freshener and was placed in the rooms of houses, synagogues and temples to clear and freshen the air and rid the smell of unpleasant odours from the room. The Greeks and the Romans used mint as a perfume and a bath scent, as well as using it in medicine and in cooking.
Of course mint is most commonly used here in cooking, and many recipes feature this ingredient. There are plenty of sites out there that you can visit to find inspiration. This site had a great idea for making mint ice cubes, as well as boasting over 200 other recipes.
Mint is also said and in many cases proven to:
- Relieve symptoms of indigestion, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome by relaxing the muscles in and around the intestine.
- Act as a powerful antioxidant, protecting the body against the formation of cancerous cells.
- Inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria and fungus.
- Ease and unblock the breathing and respiratory passages and airways.
- Relieves the symptoms of colds and flu.
- Mint can help with nasal allergies.
- It can relieve congestion, head colds and headaches.
- Act as a mild sedative and has calming properties.
- Relieve minor aches and pains such as muscle cramps and sprains.
- Combat bad breath.
- Provides a cooling sensation to the skin and can help to treat minor burns, itching and skin irritations.
- Mint is a very good cleanser for the blood.
- Mint tea can help clear up skin disorders such as acne.
A few weeks ago Wendyl Nissen mentioned in her newsletter that a friend had recommended she put pots of mint in her kitchen to repel the flies. After trying numerous other non-toxic methods without success, she gave it a go – voila! No flies anymore.
Like many of the readers of her newsletter I went out and purchased a pot of mint, and proceeded to propagate it. I’m planning on giving pots of mint, along with its label as “fly repellent” as fun Christmas gifts.
Emma of My Darling Lemon Thyme recently blogged about mint too, and how to grow and propagate it yourself.
I’ve got more than one kind of mint growing in my garden. The standard mint that you buy labels as such, spearmint – which has smaller leaves, and chocolate mint. If you break a leaf off the chocolate mint plants and chew it, it really does have a chocolaty taste. I add a few leaves to hot chocolate, or you could make your own chocolate sauce and add the leaves for a minty version.
Of course we kiwis love our roast of lamb, and nothing goes better with it than mint sauce. Homemade is so much better than store-bought and it really is super easy to make.
Homemade Mint Sauce:
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, firmly packed, 2 tsp sugar, 1/3 cup malt vinegar, 2 tablespoons water.
In a food processor: use a chopping blade. Place all ingredients into the bowl. Whizz till well blended. To make by hand: Chop the mint finely and place in a small bowl or jug. Add the sugar, and use the back of the spoon to crush the mint leaves and sugar together, so the sugar takes on the mint colour and flavour. Add the vinegar and water, and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Serve with roast lamb or mutton, or lamb or mutton chops, etc.
Store in a sealed bottle or jar in your fridge. Makes about 1/2 cup.
To make a larger quantity, multiply the ingredients.