Share This Page

A la carte: Taking a look at mints

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Keep your cool - and your coolers cold - this summer with help from a Mason Tumbler from Aladdin. The 20-ounce insulated blue-tinted mug works well with lemonade, smoothies or something more potent (we're thinking strawberry margaritas).

Tucker Yoder, executive chef of the Clifton Inn in Charlottesville, Va., offers his take on mint:

“Of all the varieties, I like chocolate mint the best. It has a dark note to it and seems less minty,” he says. “The most delicately scented and flavored leaves are the three or four tender ones at the top of the plant. I like the taste of mint and basil together; at the restaurant, we use the combination in a shaved asparagus salad with a licorice vinaigrette.”

His tips:

• Use lots of mint to infuse high-proof alcohol. Stuff 4 to 8 ounces (including stems) in a 750-milliliter bottle of high-test vodka. Let it sit for 3 or 4 days, then strain. We then like to add some bitter root, such as cinchona, and let that sit for 4 days. Strain, mix the whole lot with 250 or 300 ml of homemade honey syrup, and you've got a nice after-dinner drink. Keep it in the freezer.

• Make mint tea: Tear up a big bunch of leaves and throw them into a large Mason jar filled with water. Let it sit in a full day's sun.

• Don't chop it up too much. Use a sharp knife so it doesn't get all black.

Care and feeding of teeth

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one of every four adults older than 65 has no natural teeth. Which makes it a drag to eat corn-on-the-cob on the 4th of July.

Nutrients maintain strong teeth and strong teeth maintain our ability to get nutrients. Here's the latest on this topic from a recent position paper by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Bacteria that live in our mouth love sugar. When they feed on “fermentable carbohydrates,” they produce acids that destroy the protective mineral coating of tooth enamel. And they produce enzymes that attack proteins in the teeth. Result: weak, decayed teeth.

So what are “fermentable carbs” that pump up mouth bacteria? Beverages sweetened with sugar including soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sweet tea.

Here's the good news: Some foods and food ingredients can actually protect our teeth from decay. Chew on these:

Sugar-free chewing gum. Chewing stimulates saliva that bathes teeth with antibacterial agents that neutralize bad acids in your mouth. And the sweeteners used in sugar-free candies and mints — such as xylitol and mannitol — do not feed mouth bacteria.

Fresh fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C in these foods is used to make collagen — a vital protein for healthy gums — the better to support your teeth. And chewing these fibrous foods keep gums healthy and produces protective saliva.

Protein foods. Meat, eggs, cheese, fish, beans and legumes strengthen teeth and gums. Proteins also arm saliva with its antibacterial properties.

Whole-grain, low-sugar breads and cereals. They provide a host of nutrients that enhance our immune response to fight off pesky bacteria.

New school snack rules

The government for the first time is proposing broad new standards to make sure all foods sold in schools are healthful. The rule announced June 27 will apply to “a la carte” lines in school cafeterias, vending machines, snack bars and any other food sold regularly on campus. It won't apply to fundraisers, after-school concession stands, class parties or foods brought from home.

A separate set of rules already applies to free and low-cost meals in the main lunch line that are subsidized by the federal government.

Under the new rules, most food sold in school will now be subject to fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits. Snack foods will have to be less than 200 calories and have some nutritional value.

Some examples of what could be in and out under the rules, provided the items meet or don't meet all of the requirements:

What's in: Baked potato chips, granola bars, cereal bars, trail mix, dried fruits, fruit cups, yogurt, sugarless gum, whole grain-rich muffins, 100 percent juice drinks, diet soda (high schools), flavored water (high schools), diet sports drinks (high schools), unsweetened or diet iced teas (high schools), baked lower-fat french fries, healthier pizzas with whole-grain crust, lean hamburgers with whole-wheat buns

What's out: Candy, snack cakes, most cookies, pretzels, high-calorie sodas, high-calorie sports drinks, juice drinks that are not 100 percent juice, most ice cream and ice cream treats, high-fat chips and snacks, greasy pizza, deep-fried, high-fat foods

Send food news to tribliving@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.