5 Fascinating Facts About Peppermint

Peppermint bark. Peppermint tea. Peppermint candy canes.
Photo Credit: Flickr

Peppermint oil may add a seasonal taste to your holiday baking, but how much do you really know about this plant?

Here's five fun facts to share with your holiday guests this week!

1. Mentha piperita -- the scientific name for peppermint -- was used for medicinal purposes as early as 1000 B.C. The essential oil is still prevalent in modern medicines that offer relief from headaches, nausea, irritable bowels, muscle pain, congestion and diarrhea, according to the University of Washington's Department of Family Medicine.

2. Peppermint plants grow in North America and Europe, although the plant originated in the Mediterranean. The herb, which is a hybrid of water mint and spearmint, can grow up to 3 feet tall in a well-tended garden.

3. Peppermint oil can soothe inflammation and sunburns. The oil also soothes itchy dry skin, scabies, is an antiseptic to clean wounds and soothes acne. Children under 7 years of age and pregnant women should avoid using peppermint oil without the guidance of their family physician.

4. In the early 1900's, peppermint was used to control pests. The strong scent of peppermint oil worked as an insect repellent and a lure for nuisance rats. Business owners placed peppermint oil soaked cloths in bags, then had ferrets chase the rats into the bags.

5. Breathing the fumes of peppermint oil though aromatherapy produces positive results for humans. The oil stimulates the senses, mildly reducing fatigue and depression.

Sources and Suggested Further Reading:
University of Washington, Department of Family Medicine: Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
University of Maryland Medical Center: Peppermint
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Peppermint
Annie's Remedy: Homemade Insect Repellent
Earth Easy: Natural Insect Pest Control
Essential Oils: Peppermint essential oil information

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: I wrote this article a few years ago. This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on December 8, 2010.

Book Review: Wheat Belly Total Health


William Davis, MD is back with another delicious serving of grain-free advice in his latest book, Wheat Belly Total Health (2014).

Whether you follow a wheat-free diet or simply want to understand nutrition and how wheat affects the body, Davis is ready to help!

In his fourth Wheat Belly book, Davis makes it very clear that going wheat-free isn't enough. Now it's time to consider trying a grain-free lifestyle. Why? In Wheat Belly Total Health he explains the history of grains and how the body digests these foods.

In a nutshell, grains were initially mass produced to feed livestock, not humans. Animals process foods differently than we do, and we simply aren't designed to get much good from these foods. Davis even points out ailments he feels are caused by and aggravated when modern-day genetically-modified grains are consumed.

Davis goes on to outline how to transition into a grain-free lifestyle including recommendations for what should stay on your menu, including a variety of lean meats, beans, nuts, full-fat dairy products, oils and fresh produce.

Finally, after making the transition, Davis explains that several health concerns, including blood sugar spikes, inflammation and thyroid issues can be calmed with a grain-free diet. As a happy side effect, many people lose excess weight, feel an increase in energy and experience greater mental clarity on a grain-free diet.

Historical references, sourced arguments, recipes and shopping list ideas are also included in this incredibly informative guide to cutting wheat (and all grains) from your daily diet.

Have you adopted a grain-free or wheat-free lifestyle? Tell me how it's working for you in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Disclosure: The book, Wheat Belly Total Health, mentioned in this blog post was provided free of charge for review purposes. No monetary compensation was sought or awarded in exchange for this post or the upcoming book review. All thoughts expressed on Whole Foods Living are solely my own. ~Angela

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Easy Gluten-free Holiday Grape Salad

Over the last few weeks I've been brainstorming a Christmas dinner menu.

Easy Gluten-free Holiday Grape Salad, Photo by Angela Tague
It's a given I'll make my decadent creamy mashed potatoes, a few green veggies, corn casserole, homemade rolls, something for my meat-eating guests, a lentil loaf, homemade candy, a few desserts and a tray of appetizers.

As I made out my list I realized one key food group was being sorely neglected.

Fruit!

On Thanksgiving cranberries get loads of attention in sauces, stuffing and chutneys. Apples make an appearance in pie and salads.

But what fruit is popular at Christmas? Sugar plums? Are those even a real thing?

So, this year I've decided I'll whip up my crowd pleasing simple grape salad. Its vibrant flavor is a refreshing contrast against the creamy, comforting potatoes and gravy. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to make. Delicious AND easy? Sign me up!

Healthy Holiday Grape Salad 

Photo by Angela Tague
Servings: 8-10 side dishes
  • 2 heaping cups seedless red grapes, whole
  • 2 heaping cups seedless green grapes, whole
  • 1- 5.3 oz. carton of Chobani lemon blended Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Wash and pat dry both varieties of grapes. Place them in a pretty serving bowl. Stir in one carton of Chobani lemon blended Greek yogurt and sprinkle the walnuts atop the salad. Cover and chill the fruit until meal time, then enjoy!

Do you have a favorite healthy, whole foods fruit dish to serve at the holidays? Tell me about it in the comments below! I'm still working on the Christmas menu and might be persuaded to make a few more additions!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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FDA Serves Up Calorie Counts on Menus

Photo Credit: morgueFile
Restaurant dinners come with too many indulgences.

Appetizers. Starters. Sides. Desserts.

What ever happened to simply enjoying an entree and calling it a night?

I don't know about you, but almost every meal I eat outside of the home is higher in calories than what I'd cook for myself. Why? Because it feels OK to splurge when you're out.

Well, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is hoping to bring us all back down to reality (and responsible portion sizes) when it comes to those evenings when we don't have to cook dinner ourselves.

A new ruling from the FDA that goes into effect in 2015 states that restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, movie theater snack bars and some convenience/grocery stores with ready-made foods with more than 20 locations must list calorie counts for each prepared food and drink item listed for sale.

In two years, vending machine operators will also have to follow these rules and post calorie counts in a visible area on the machines.

So, in the near future expect to see a calorie count next to items on a salad bar, on your favorite chain restaurant's menu board and on the break room snack machine.

Want to know more details? Read the full FDA report HERE.

So, how do you feel about the new calorie counts on menus?
Will they make dinner less enjoyable because you know how indulgent you're being?
Or, will you make healthier choices since the numbers are right in front of you?

Tell me in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living