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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Peppermint Chocolate Truffles

The Flavor of the Holidays


Much like Thanksgiving is bombarded with pumpkin spice, the flavor of Christmas is most notably peppermint. There's peppermint mochas, chocolate peppermint bark, cool peppermint pies and delicious peppermint cookies. It's the chief mint chosen to flavor candies and gum, and it comes to good little boys' and girls' Christmas stockings in the form of a red and white candy cane.

The herb peppermint is commonly grown throughout Europe and North America. Its oil is not just a flavoring in foods, but can be found in soaps, toothpaste and cosmetics, and has also been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It's been used as a dietary supplement or essential oil for irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and other conditions. Results from several studies indicate that peppermint oil capsules may help alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel, and there is a limited amount of research that links peppermint essential oil to the relief of tension headaches. However, there's not enough evidence to conclude that peppermint is helpful for other conditions, such as the common cold or flu. Caution must be taken if using supplements and oils due to its toxicity in large doses.

In the kitchen, peppermint is available in the form of extract. Peppermint extract may be labeled as pure or imitation. Pure extract is peppermint oil that has been diluted in alcohol to lessen its potency. Straight peppermint oil, on the other hand, is four times as potent as the pure extract! Imitation extracts are a mix of ingredients that yield the same flavor as the oil but does not contain any actual peppermint oil or alcohol. Pure extracts will undoubtedly cost more than imitation extracts, and most veteran cooks will tell you that the extra cost is worth it. But no matter how you get the peppermint flavor, be sure to include it in your holiday gatherings!

Chocolate Peppermint Truffles (Printable PDF)

12 dates, pitted and roughly chopped

1 cup shelled walnuts

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

⅛ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon peppermint extract

1 candy cane, crushed

Place all ingredients except the crushed candy cane in a food processor and process until somewhat smooth and forms a ball. Roll the mixture into 14 small balls. Roll each ball into the crushed candy cane, pressing down to stick.

Yield: 14 servings, 1 truffle each

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 70 calories, 5 grams fat, 20 milligrams sodium, 8 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams protein



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