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Uplifting Lemongrass

Cathy Christensen February 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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Originating in India and widely used as an herb in Asian and Caribbean cooking, lemongrass also brings its tempting aroma and skin-caring properties to the spa.

Known as Cymbopogon ciratus, lemongrass is a tall, perennial grass with a lemony flavor that can be dried, powdered or used fresh. It commonly is used in teas, soups and curries, as well as to complement poultry and seafood, and its light flavor blends well with garlic, chilies and cilantro.

Lemongrass also is utilized as a medicinal herb—rich in citral, the active ingredient in lemon peel, lemongrass is said to aid in digestion, as well as relieve spasms, muscle cramps, rheumatism and headaches. Candles, soaps and perfumes capitalize on its fresh scent, as well.

In the kitchen

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Spa Cuisine: Lemongrass Quick Facts

Quick Facts

  • One cup of lemongrass has 66 calories, 0 grams of fat, 17 grams of carbohydrates and makes up 30% of the recommended daily amount of iron.
  • Lemongrass oil is the volatile oil distilled from the leaves of the grass.
  • Lemongrass is one of the aromatic grasses that were common in the Holy Land and referenced in the Bible.
  • Cymbopogon nardis, a close relative of lemongrass and commonly known as citronella, is a popular ingredient used to repel insects.
  • Supposedly, illness ranging from gastric irritability to cramping can be relieved by adding a fraction of a drop of lemongrass oil to a sugar cube.
  • Lemongrass oil can relieve joint pain for those who suffer from arthritis.

Spa Cuisine Recipe: Sautéed Channel Mussels

Sautéed Channel Mussels

From the Bath House Spa at New Park Manor, Brockenhurst, New Forest, Hampshire

4 1⁄2 pounds live mussels, cleaned

 

2 shallot onions, finely chopped

4 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped

2 red chilies, deseeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon rapeseed or vegetable oil

13 ounces canned coconut milk

Handful of chopped fresh coriander

Sea salt

1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add the chopped shallots, lemongrass, ginger, chilies and garlic, and gently cook until soft but not browned. Then add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.

2. Add mussels to the pan, cover and cook for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times. Make sure that all mussels have opened.

3. Stir in the chopped coriander and salt, if needed.

4. Serve in a large, warmed bowl with lime wedges and fresh crusty bread.

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