Cool Down with the Flavors of Mint

http://www.motherearthliving.com/Food-Matters/cool-down-with-the-flavors-of-mint.aspx

J.PattonI glanced at the weather forecast this morning for the weekend ahead and smiled—90-degree weather without a cloud in the sky is in the future for this Kansas resident. It’s not too different for the rest of the country, either. Everyone’s Fourth of July weekend looks about the same: hot, humid and (in my opinion) wonderful.

However, even a heat fanatic like me needs to cool down once in awhile, and what better way to do it than with a refreshing mint-flavored beverage?

Mint can do more for you than just quench your thirst. Mint leaves are known for their ability to calm a nervous stomach. They soothe the digestive tract and can help relieve stomachaches as well. In addition, studies have shown mint leaves may even slow down some of the most harmful bacteria and fungi that are introduced into our bodies. So, what better herb to add to your drink than mint?

I’ve decided to share three recipes I’ve found online that look especially delicious. All of these drinks take less than 30 minutes to prepare, and they are all alcohol-free, so you can share them with the children in your life as well. Enjoy!

6-30-11-watermelon-agua-fresca 
This refreshment is perfect for those hot summer days. It
packs a mere 72 calories and only 0.1 grams of fat.
Photo by petit hiboux/Courtesy Flickr
 

Watermelon Agua Fresca 

SERVES 8

• 4 cups cubed seeded watermelon
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/2 cup white sugar, or to taste
• 4 slices lime
• 24 fresh mint leaves
• Ice

1. Puree the watermelon and water in a blender.

2. Add sugar to taste

3. Cut the lime slices in half.

4. Place a half lime slice into each of the 8 glasses along with 3 mint leaves per glass.

5. Crush with a cocktail muddler, and then fill each glass with ice.

6. Pour in the watermelon agua fresca, and stir before serving.

6-30-11-citrus-mint-cooler 
This summery drink contains orange juice, which has a high percentage of
vitamin C and can help boost your immune system while quenching your thirst.
Photo by erinsikorskystewart/Courtesy
Flickr 

Citrus Mint Cooler 

SERVES 15

• 1 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1 cup fresh orange juice
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 1/2 cups water
• 10 sprigs mint
• 32 fluid ounces ginger ale
• Water

1. Place first 5 ingredients in a saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.

3. Cover; remove from heat and let steep until cool.

4. Strain.

5. Cover and refrigerate.

6. To serve, fill glasses or a pitcher with equal amounts of fruit juice, ginger ale and water.

7. Add ice and serve immediately.

6-30-11-mojito 
The recipe below offers the cooling flavor of a mojito
that even those under the drinking age can enjoy.
Photo by TheCulinaryGeek/Courtesy Flickr
 

Alcohol-free Mojito 

SERVES 14

• 3 cups water, divided
• 1 1/2 cups white sugar
• 2 cups mint leaves, chopped
• 2 cups lime sherbet, softened
• 1 cup lime juice
• 8 cups club soda
• Lime slices, for garnish

1. Combine 2 cups water and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl.

2. Heat in microwave on high for 5 minutes.

3. Stir the mint into the water; let stand for 5 minutes.

4. Strain and discard mint leaves from the syrup; set aside.

5. Stir the lime sherbet, lime juice, and 1 cup water together in a large pitcher until well combined.

6. Pour the mint-infused syrup into the mixture.

7. Add club soda and stir.

8. Serve over ice, and garnish with lime slices.