Microgreens have been a hot topic lately; however, they have been around since the 1980’s. They were first introduced in the California restaurant scene, and they have been picking up traction over the past several years. Microgreens have several names you might have heard such as vegetable confetti or micro herbs. They are popular for their aromatic flavors, textures, and concentrated nutrient content.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are the early leaves and stems of growing vegetable or herb plants. The seedlings are anywhere from seven to 14 days old and usually 1 to 3 inches tall. Microgreens are older than sprouts but younger than baby veggies such as baby spinach or baby lettuce.
Any vegetable you want to eat can be enjoyed as a microgreen. Microgreens offer a fresh crisp taste along with a lot of nutrients. You might be asking yourself, why not just let the plants grow to full form? Wouldn’t the full plant offer better nutrition?
Microgreen Nutrient Contents
Many of these tiny microgreens can have four to six times the amount of vitamins and antioxidants than their adult form. While their nutrient contents vary slightly, most varieties tend to be rich in potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper. Here are a few microgreens that have more vitamins than their adult form.
- Red Cabbage - Vitamin C
- Green Daikon Radish - Vitamin E
- Cilantro - Carotenoids
- Garnet Amaranth - Vitamin K
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is good for you, and the addition of microgreens can give you a nice nutrient boost with very few calories.
How To Use Microgreens
You can add microgreens to your diet a variety of ways:
- Incorporate microgreens into your salad and enjoy them raw
- Add microgreens as a garnish on a chicken breast or any other type of meat.
- Include microgreens in soups, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, or even to your favorite cocktail!
These tiny foods are very versatile, and your imagination is the only limit to what they can be added to. Be sure to wash prior to use.
You can buy these tiny plants in your local health food store or a natural foods market. Microgreens would most likely be located next to the lettuce and other greens. Look for packages of tiny greens with stems only a couple of inches tall.
Your local farmers market might also have them for sale. The one downside is that these tiny greens can be somewhat pricey.
How To Grow Microgreens
If you like microgreens, consider growing them yourself. Microgreens are relatively easy to grow, and you can grow them either indoors or outside. Here is what you need.
- Good quality seeds
- A container filled with potting soil
- Proper lighting - either natural sunlight or UV lighting.
- Fill your container with soil, making sure you don’t over-compress it, and water lightly.
- Sprinkle the seed of your choice on top of the soil as evenly as possible.
- Lightly mist your seeds with water and cover your container with a plastic lid.
- Check on your tray daily, and mist water as needed to keep the seeds moist.
- After couple of days after the seeds have germinated, and you may remove the plastic lid to expose them to light.
- Water once a day while your microgreens grow and gain color.
- After seven to 10 days, your microgreens should be ready to harvest.
By Riley Johnson
Dietetic Intern, Franciscan Health Lafayette East