Microgreens are the young, tiny versions of edible vegetables and herbs and they come loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants. Not to be confused with sprouts, microgreens require soil, light, and more time to grow. These greens are not harvested until their true leaves appear, usually one to two weeks after they first start growing.
Sunlight and soil enrich these greens with chlorophyll and minerals that aren’t as available in sprouts. There’s also much less chance of bacterial growth, a common problem with sprouts, especially those commercially grown. Microgreens aren’t kept in constant humidity, sunlight inhibits bacterial growth, and the seeds aren’t harvested with the greens.
Microgreens have been a favorite of chefs as garnishes for years and then gathered momentum as a healthy superfood, but little research had been done to prove any such benefits. A study near the end of 2012 changed that, showing microgreens contain more nutrients and vitamins than their more mature counterparts.
The nutritional value of each green will depend on the type of plant or herb it is. Leafy greens will be rich in beta-carotene, iron, calcium, vitamin K, and even vitamin C. Darker greens will contain more lutein and zeaxanthin. Purple or redder microgreens will contain many more rich antioxidants.
Apart from nutrients, microgreens pack a lot of flavor into their little frames, often much more than the mature plants. This makes them a powerful addition to salads, soups, sandwiches, veggie burgers, and many more recipes and meals. They make an excellent garnish too. Just know that a little often goes a long way, especially for the more potent and spicy varieties like basil and mustard.
Microgreens generally cost more than the vegetables or herbs they could become when you find them commercially, but they are easy and inexpensive to grow at home. You can grow them outdoors during warm seasons or bring them inside and grow them all year. They take up such a small amount of room that you can grow them on your porch, patio, balcony, windowsill, kitchen counter, shelf, or even your desk. Home growing means you control what goes into them and what comes out. You can choose your favorites while avoiding pesticides and pollutants. Microgreens come in a variety of colors and, to some degree, shapes and sizes to brighten your life, your home, your workspace, and your meals.
The choices for microgreens are near endless. Mustard, kale, arugula, endive, spinach, basil, watercress, cabbage, lettuce, cilantro, parsley, celery, chard, and chervil are just the beginning. You can also use a few vegetables you wouldn’t expect as microgreens, like turnip, radish, broccoli, carrot, beets, peas, sunflower, amaranth, and kohlrabi. There are many more, each one with its unique flavor, texture, coloring, and nutrients.
Get started today. All you need is a small space, a little bit of soil, a packet of seeds, and water, and in a couple weeks you’ll be getting a tasty vitamin kick in your food.
About Charlie Pulsipher
Charlie Pulsipher is a health and fitness enthusiast, writer, author, and neighborhood do-gooder. He shifted his education from Biochemistry to English Literature in an attempt to avoid math, but never stopped loving the natural world of the miniscule. He has published several fantasy and science fiction novels and helped others publish more down to earth books about natural foods. He can’t stop writing. He is probably happily tapping away on some keyboard even now.