Eat Local! Microgreens
February 28, 2017
As we head into March, some of us have probably started thinking about starting our cool weather crops. Although leafy greens and some herbs can be planted in March, their miniature counterparts, or microgreens, can be available year-round simply by sitting on your windowsill. These windowsill edible greens make a unique culinary addition to salads, soups, and sandwiches and are easy to grow without having to worry about the variable conditions of March weather in Idaho!
Microgreens and sprouted foods have become a popular food trend in recent years. While sprouted foods (typically from the germ of whole grains) are germinated by soaking seeds in water, microgreens are germinated by growing seeds in a small amount of soil. These seeds could include a variety of greens or grains – from cabbage and kale to buckwheat and chia. Seeds generally take 3-7 days to sprout, and can be harvested within 1-2 weeks. The result is a miniature edible green seedling.
Microgreens pack a powerful nutrition punch. Although limited research exists on the exact nutrient content of microgreens, a few studies have shown that microgreens are considerably higher in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, folate, fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants including carotenoids and lutein than their mature counterparts. In addition, microgreens contain the more bioavailable form of minerals such as calcium and iron, making these nutrients more easily absorbed in the body. It is believed that the since microgreens are harvested immediately after germination, a higher concentration of nutrients exists.
Microgreens can be easily grown on a warm, sunny windowsill. Simply fill a disposable container with potting soil, sprinkle seeds of choice over the top and gently smooth a small amount of damp soil over the top. Soaking the seeds for 24 hours before planting will increase germination time. Pie tins, egg cartons or even used Keurig containers work well.
- Take a nontraditional spin on salad greens by planting the seeds of kale, red cabbage, mustard greens, or arugula. These microgreens provide a host of antioxidants that can help reduce cancer risk and strengthen the immune system.
- Chia seeds can be easily grown as a microgreen and are rich in heart healthy and memory boosting omega-3 fatty acids.
- Get your grains! Amaranth and buckwheat are both gluten free grains that yield high amounts of protein, calcium, and iron for the growth and maintenance of healthy cells .
- Try herbs – basil and parsley can aid in liver detoxification, while cilantro binds with heavy metals.
Microgreens generally have a stronger flavor and more vibrant color, so a little goes a long ways! Toss in microgreens with your dinner salad, sprinkle on baked chicken or fish as a garnish, or add to soups, sandwiches and wraps.
Try this easy recipe for a lunch wrap:
½ cup microgreens
1 piece whole wheat pita bread
¼ cup sliced cherry tomatoes
¼ cup cucumber slices
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Directions: Spread hummous onto pita. Roll up with microgreens, tomatoes, cucumber, and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Enjoy!
By Natalie Colla, CDE, RDN, LDN.