You have probably seen micro-greens topping your dishes in restaurants and even lining the grocery shelves. Chefs love them for their punchy flavors, dash of texture, and a nice color to finish a dish. Is it worth the splurge on those little vegetables?
What are Microgreens?
Microgreen is essentially a marketing term for immature plants. They are new plants, harvested within 1-3 weeks of sowing the seeds, before they are given the chance to become a mature vegetable, but after the first “true” leaves emerge. They differ from sprouts in that a sprout is a just-germinated seed that has cracked and shot out small white hairs.
The greatest benefit of microgreens is that they contain concentrated amounts of important nutritional components. They are rich in the vitamins and antioxidants needed to grow into full-blown plants such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and beta-carotene. Little nutrition-packed sprigs of broccoli, for example, are full of sulforaphane, a potent cancer-battling compound.
As athletes grinding out the miles and spending time with strength training on a daily basis, we need additional nutrition to replenish our cells and stay healthy. Microgreens can help meet that nutritional need in a large way.
But don’t replace your regular vegetables with just sprouts – you still need the fiber and variety of full-grown veggies, plus they have a surprisingly short shelf-life and expensive price-tag. Add them to your sandwiches and avocado toast, or mix them in with your salad for some extra flavor and nutrition.
Look for microgreens that are perky and freshly colored, without any adverse aroma, which could indicate bacterial growth. Keep them in your refrigerator and use within a few days of purchase. Locally, the Tahoe Food Hub offers a nice variety of freshly grown and harvested microgreens.
Growing your own
It is easy to grow microgreens on your own, and much more economical than stocking up at the store. All you need are some trays, seeds, and a little bit of growth medium. Here is a step-by-step guide to growing your own little nutritional powerhouses at home.