It seems that every year there’s something totally new to be discovered about nutrition. This year it looks like it’s going to be all about baby veggies. When we’re talking baby, we’re not talking diminutive versions of whole vegetables. We’re talking seedlings—sprouts no older than 14 days old!
Microgreens have been slowly making their way to the produce section of super markets for the last several years, so naturally, GreenAcres Market jumped in just ahead of the demand.
Mick, our Wichita store produce manager, is a whiz at finding the best of the best organic microgreens. This year, Eric Johnson of FROM SEED TO YOU, a local vendor, has been bringing Mick boxes of pea, fava and broccoli bean shoots, and he’s growing them as fast as he can.
A demonstrator we like to call our Cheese Guru, whose real name is Judy, has been putting microgreens on the meat, cheese and crackers she samples out between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. several times a week. “At home,” she says, “I put them in all kinds of recipes. There’s so much nutrition in seedlings!”
So, just what kind of seedlings are they? Well, they are the first shoots of spinach, baby lettuces, squash, mustard, peas, beets, and more. They are the pretty little tops of greens that pepper salads, float on top of soups, fold into egg dishes. Use them anyway you like, but don’t cook them. Eat them as a garnish, or if clipped into a recipe, make sure they are put in at the last minute so as not to ruin their copious vitamin and mineral content.
The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry published an article a few years ago that attested to their extremely high nutritious value. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture apparently were bowled over by the first conducted analysis of microgreen nutrients. The researchers tested their baby seedlings looking at four groups of vitamins and phytochemicals (Vitamin C, E and Beta Carotene in 25 varieties of microgreens.) They found the leaves of the baby greens had something like four to six times more bang for your buck than mature leaves of the same vegetables.
Can you guess from their tests which veggie had the most Vitamin C? Red cabbage—something our cooks often provide for our GA’s hot cases during the season—was the winner. The daikon radish had the most Vitamin E. Kale and beet microgreens were a close second. No surprise, really, however, think about it: How often do you buy a daikon radish? We’ve got to get more creative with our choice of vegetables. We’re a global economy now. Let’s make an effort to branch out and try new things.
Microgreens differ from sprouts in that sprout seeds germinate in water just long enough (48 hours or so) to grow roots, stem and the promise of a leaf. Microgreens on the other hand are grown for seven days before harvested. Growers deliver them in the trays they are grown in enabling cooks and chefs to clip the tiny flowering greens onto a diners plate. Home cooks are encouraged to do the same. Raise them in your windowsills, but don’t wait any longer than seven days to harvest.
Since many of us do not eat enough fruits and veggies, tossing a handful of microgreens on your daily salad is going to give your system a big shot of healthy vitamins.
To give us an idea of how to actually use microgreens, we visited Raspberryhill.com and found these great recipes. Enjoy!
Almond Microgreen Smoothie
You can vary these ingredients to suit your taste. Change quantities, add different fruits, omit others. Have fun with this recipe and see what favorite recipes you discover!
For each serving:
1 cup of your favorite microgreens (such as basil, amaranth, or kogane)
2 tablespoons almond butter
½ cup yogurt
½ cup water or fruit juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger powder
sweetener to taste, if desired
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Easy Microgreen Salad
1 cup, more or less, of your favorite microgreens
toasted cashews or almonds
feta or bleu cheese crumbles
salt and pepper to taste
Arrange microgreens on a salad plate and sprinkle with nuts and cheese crumbles. Drizzle lightly with oil and vinegar; season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately.
Smoked Salmon Tortillas
4 whole wheat or multi grain tortillas
¼ cup sour cream
4 ounces smoked salmon
1 avocado, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1-2 cups fresh microgreens
Hot sauce or salsa, optional
Warm the tortillas in the oven or on the stovetop. Place equal amounts of sour cream, salmon, avocado, tomato, and microgreens on each tortilla. Fold the tortilla in half, place on plates and serve with salsa or hot sauce on the side.
At GA-Bradley Fair, we call Eric Johnson, the man who delivers our microgreens, “Mr. America.” You can see why from his unconventional headgear above.
At present, we’re down to our last little box of pea shoots, but not to worry, Eric gets back from vacation next week and we’ll have our shelves full again. Customers are really getting on to just how good for them these tiny little seedlings are. Why don’t you, too, give them a try!