Mighty Microgreens: Health Benefits, Growing Guide, and Flavorful Varieties

With more time spent at home during the novel coronavirus pandemic, many people have taken up new hobbies, and one that has gained popularity is gardening. Research indicates that 55% of American households now participate in gardening activities. If you’re interested in growing your own food but lack the yard space or free time for a large plot, microgreens offer a fantastic solution.

Microgreens are the edible leafy greens of various vegetables, herbs, grains, and flowers. They are harvested within about two weeks from seedling emergence, making them quick and convenient. Sarah Ardanuy Johnson, PhD, RDN, assistant professor and director of the Functional Foods and Human Health Laboratory at Colorado State University, explains that microgreens are often used as colorful garnishes for restaurant dishes. They fall between sprouts and baby greens in size, requiring minimal space to grow. You can easily cultivate them on your windowsill, and they make a tasty addition to soups, salads, and more.

Microgreens offer an array of health benefits:

Research suggests that they are more concentrated in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals compared to their mature counterparts. According to Johnson, microgreens generally contain about five times more vitamins and phytochemicals than full-grown plants. This nutritional density makes microgreens an excellent addition to the recommended 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

In addition to their nutritional value, microgreens have a reduced environmental footprint. They can be grown year-round, indoors, and with minimal water, making them highly sustainable. Whether you obtain them from a local farmer, a nearby grocery store, or grow them in your own home, microgreens are an eco-friendly choice.

To start your own microgreens garden:

You’ll need a few supplies. Growing trays, a growing medium such as potting soil or coconut coir, microgreens seeds, a spray bottle, and natural light or LED grow lights are essential. If you’re new to gardening or lack experience, consider purchasing a grow kit from companies like True Leaf Market or Hamama. These kits provide everything you need to get started.

Follow this simple step-by-step guide to grow your own microgreens:

Find a sunny space: Choose a location that receives plenty of sunlight during the day, such as a south-facing windowsill or your porch/balcony.

Prepare your plot: Cover your growing tray with 1-2 inches of soil and gently pat it down.

Scatter your seeds: Sprinkle the microgreens seeds evenly over the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Lightly mist them with water using a spray bottle.

Tend to your garden: Mist your plot once or twice a day for the next two weeks.

Harvest your microgreens: When the microgreens reach about two inches in height and develop their first set of leaves, they’re ready to eat. Snip them just above the soil using kitchen scissors, rinse them off, and enjoy their fresh flavors.

Microgreens come in various varieties:

Each with its distinct flavor. Consider trying these flavorful microgreens in your garden:

Red Cabbage: Vibrant and with a little kick, red cabbage microgreens make an excellent addition to sandwiches or dishes that need some heat.

Arugula: With its heat, bitterness, and intensity, arugula microgreens add a punch of flavor. Sprinkle them on “bland” dishes or top your avocado toast with them.

Broccoli: Offering a milder taste compared to red cabbage and arugula, broccoli microgreens are ideal for grain bowl toppings and can stand alone as a side dish.

Red Beet: If you enjoy the taste of beets, you’ll love red beet microgreens. Mix them into salads or dishes that would benefit from a beet-like flavor, or blend them into a smoothie for a nutritious boost.

Growing microgreens is an accessible and rewarding way to enhance your meals with fresh, nutrient-packed greens. By incorporating microgreens into your daily diet, you can enjoy their health benefits, contribute to sustainability, and explore a variety of flavors. Start your microgreens garden today and embark on a flavorful and nutritious culinary adventure.

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