Microgreens are nutrient-packed baby leafy vegetables that can be grown on a windowsill or deck, enabling people without yards to enjoy fresh homegrown produce.
Microgreen flavors are sweet, savory, earthy, or spicy, depending on the particular plants grown, and they are available in a broad array of colors, including red and purple.
Plants that can be eaten as microgreens include various lettuces, spinach, mustard greens, kale, pea greens, wasabi, kohlrabi, chard, radish greens, beet greens, carrot greens, and cabbage.
Homegrown crops provide a number of advantages.
They’re more environmentally friendly because they don’t require packaging and shipping, they usually taste better than produce that has been shipped long distances, they retain more nutrients because they’re eaten sooner after harvesting, they’re free of toxic pesticides, and they can be quickly and conveniently harvested to use in salads or other dishes.
However, microgreens have a number of additional advantages over their full-grown counterparts.
Because they’re harvested early (when they’re just 2 inches high or less), microgreens require very little space and few resources to grow (just a tray and a small amount of soil).
They’re ready to eat in just one to two weeks and their flavors tend to be more delicate and their textures more tender than those of full-grown plants.
They can be grown year-round indoors and research indicates that microgreens are actually more nutritious than full-grown plants. Given these advantages, it’s unsurprising that microgreens have been growing in popularity in recent years.
Vitamin and antioxidant levels vary from one type of microgreen to the next, but all are rich sources of beneficial nutrients. The best strategy is to grow a variety of microgreens for maximum nutritional benefits.
Microgreens can enhance not only salads but also soups, sandwiches, and other dishes, or be added as garnishes to improve the attractiveness and nutritional value of any meal.
Franks, E., & Richardson, J., Microgreens: A Guide to Growing Nutrient-Packed Greens, Gibbs Smith, 2009.
Wang, Q., PhD, “Many Trendy ‘Microgreens’ Are More Nutritious Than Their Mature Counterparts,” Canada Free Press, 29 August 2012. http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/articles-health/49138
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