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What Are Microgreens and Why You Should Know

 

What if I told you that you could grow a superfood year-round right on your kitchen counter, porch, patio, or even in your garage, and it would not only taste amazing but would cost very little?

What if I told you it could be ready to eat in as little as 10 days?

Well, it is very possible and very easy!  

I am talking about microgreens!

Microgreens are a big thing now in high-end restaurants, specialty grocery stores, and some farmer’s markets.

They cost a pretty penny to purchase even a small amount of these greens and are highly valued because of their nutritional content and because they taste amazing!

If they catch on like I think they will, there could be good money to be made. So whether you want to grow them for cash or just for your personal health and enjoyment you have come to the right place.

I am going to walk you through the different types of microgreens, the top ten recommended for beginners, their nutritional value, as well as how you can learn to grow your own.

What are Microgreens?

 

Microgreens are the seedlings of vegetables and herbs. Think of the big brother to sprouts. 

As you know, mature plants like broccoli, lettuce, basil, chives, arugula, etc. once started as an immature seedling. 

There are 3 stages of these immature seedlings.

  1. Sprouts – This is where the seed has just sprouted their hypocotyl and the seed is usually still attached.
  2. Microgreens – Harvested at the first true leaf stage. Taller and greener than their little brother, the sprout.
  3. Baby Salads – If Microgreens are the big brother to sprouts than baby salad greens are the big sister. I guess that makes microgreens the middle child. Baby salad greens are microgreens that are left to grow longer but harvested before they become fully mature. They are a baby version of the mature full-size plant.

They can be used in sandwiches, mixed with other salad greens, added to wraps, stirfry, soups, spring rolls, and even blended into your smoothie.

Why grow Microgreens?

 

Reason #1.  Microgreens Offer Incredible Nutrition

According to National Vitals Statistics Report, chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States leading to 7 out of 10 deaths each year.

Diet is the main cause! Read more here about Diet vs. Disease.

In a report published by the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 10 different microgreens from 8 different botanical families showed that microgreens are a great source of vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene, and are low in oxalates(anti-nutrient in many mature edibles). They were reported to be moderate to good sources of protein, dietary fiber, and essential elements.

Read about The Amazing Health Benefits of Eating Green Apples to find more sources of fiber, vitamin C, and many other incredible nutrients.

According to the NQS(Nutritional Quality Score), all microgreens are 2-3.5 times more nutrient-dense than mature spinach leaves cultivated under the same conditions.

The US Department of Agriculture conducted a study that showed the leaves of almost all microgreens have “four to six times more nutrients than the mature leaves of the same plant.”

These nutrients are essential for skin, eyes, heart health, fighting cancer, boosting our immune system, along with many other health benefits.

Another study performed by The University of Maryland looked at 25 varieties of microgreens. What they found was that the levels of vitamins and nutritional benefits varied between each variety of microgreens.

The most exciting part of their research was their discovery that the microgreens “contained four to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts.”

There have not been a lot of studies yet so this is just the tip of the nutritional iceberg.

And we are not just talking iceberg lettuce here.

The microgreen industry started with just a few seed options and now there are more than a hundred varieties.

Reason #2.  They Will Add Excitement to your Boring Diet

They are beautiful with vibrant colors, fascinating textures, and have a myriad of flavors that include pungent, bitter, spicy, sweet, and even floral.

Want more excitement? Check out my S.E.X.Y. food page.

Reason #3.  Food Safety

Because you are growing them yourself you know exactly how they were grown. You can feel confident knowing there are no chemicals, GMOs, or nasty bacteria like salmonella, listeria, or e-coli. You can’t say that about the sprouts or veggies you buy in the grocery store.

Reason #4.  Year-Round Greens.

 You can have fresh nutritious greens at any time of the year.

Since microgreens require very little light and do not depend on specific temperatures you can grow these easily in a very small space.

Reason #5.  Affordable Food.

Once you are set up, the only thing you need to purchase is seeds. That’s it.

You can start with some free flats from Lowes or very inexpensive ones from True Leaf Market and a sunny window sill.

Once you get going you will most likely want to upgrade to better lighting options and perhaps some racks to make expanding your microgreen garden easier.

Reason #6.  Fast Food. 

Choose microgreens over Mcdonald’s.

Eating clean healthy food can have profound effects on your life. You can learn more about clean eating in my free E-book or check out my Clean Eating School.

Microgreen seeds will sprout and grow at different speeds just like your garden plants but many varieties will be ready to eat within 10 days.

That is what I call fast food! Fast healthy food…

Reason #7. Growing Microgreens is Fun!

You will just have to trust me on that one. Try it just once and you will see what I mean.

There is nothing more rewarding than watching the magic of life erupt before your very eyes. Living, vibrant, energy-filled beautiful gifts for our bodies and minds.

Ok, so maybe that was a bit over the top but it was what first came to my mind so it stays. 

List of the top ten microgreens for beginners and their nutritional value

The University of Maryland study highlighted 4 of the 25 varieties they studied as the highest nutritional components of 4 different vitamins and carotenoids.

  • Red Cabbage
  • Green Daikon Radish
  • Cilantro
  • Garnet Amaranth.

The others are still jammed packed with a powerhouse of nutrition so I would caution against limiting your choice to just those 4, especially when there are so many to choose from.

The top ten I am listing, however, are based on difficulty level, nutritional value, and flavor favorites.

Arugula:

  • Flavor: strong peppery flavor, slightly buttery and cabbage-like
  • Nutrients: Vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and phosphorus

 Bok choy/Pak choi:

  • Flavor: mild, earthy, slightly sweet
  • Nutrients: Vitamins C, K, and E, beta-carotene, and iron

 Broccoli:

  • Flavor: fresh, mild broccoli or cabbage flavor
  • Nutrients: Vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and phosphorus

 Buckwheat: 

  • Flavor: A citrus-like flavor with tart and tangy undertones
  • Nutrients: Vitamins B, C, and K, folic acid, and fiber

 Cabbage:

  • Flavor: A strong broccoli (brassica) flavor
  • Nutrients: Vitamins C, K, and E, and iron

 Cauliflower:

  • Flavor: mild peppery
  • Nutrients: Vitamins C, K, and E, beta-carotene, and iron

 Chia:

  • Flavor: Fresh and sweet
  • Nutrients: Vitamins B, C, and K, folic acid, and fiber

 Chinese Mustard:

  • Flavor: Sweet, crisp, and tangy
  • Nutrients: Vitamins A, C, K, carotenoids, folate, calcium, potassium.

Pea:

  • Flavor: Very sweet, fresh (tastes just like peas)
  • Nutrients: Vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and phosphorus

Kale

  • Flavor: strong broccoli (brassica) flavor, nutty and rich
  • Nutrients: Vitamins A, C, and K, antioxidants, fiber, iron, and copper

Why are these nutrients important? Let’s take a look.

  

Vitamin A (Beta-carotene)
Helps to keep eyesight and promote the growth of skin, hair, bones, and teeth. Carotenoids act as antioxidants that prevent some cancers and fight heart disease.
Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential water-soluble vitamin required by the body for the development and maintenance of scar tissue, cartilage, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is also necessary for creating dopamine, ATP, peptide hormones, and tyrosine.

It is a powerful antioxidant that helps lessen oxidative stress to the body and is believed to lower cancer risk.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is not just one vitamin but a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and regulating blood calcium levels.

The body needs vitamin K to produce prothrombin, a protein, and a clotting factor that is important in blood clotting and bone metabolism. People who use blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin, or Coumadin, should not start consuming additional vitamin K without first consulting a doctor.

Deficiency is rare, but, in severe cases, it can increase clotting time, leading to hemorrhage and excessive bleeding.

Vitamin B9/Folate

Folate is the naturally produced vitamin as opposed to the synthetically made folic acid that you see in supplements. Folate is one of the B-vitamins and is needed to make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow.

It converts carbohydrates into energy, and produce DNA and RNA.

Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence.

Potassium
Potassium aids in nervous system and muscle function and helps maintain a healthy balance of water in the blood and body tissues.
Fiber
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Though most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead, it passes through the body undigested. Fiber helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check.

Children and adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day for good health, but most Americans get only about 15 grams a day. Great sources are whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans. (Source:https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/)

 

Zinc
Zinc supports the body’s immune function, reproduction capabilities, and nervous systems. Helps wounds to heal and aids taste and smell sensory.
Check out our Microgreens at True Leaf Market

How to grow your own microgreens

I have found some of the best resources, guides, and tutorials at BootstrapFarmer.com. I would suggest starting with their ‘Growing Microgreens 101′. They are also a great source for all your equipment needs.

True Leaf Market also has a wonderful starter guide. They also have equipment and a huge selection of seeds. You name it they have got it.

 

Where you can obtain the supplies and seeds

I am still looking but so far the best prices, quality, and selection that I have found are from True Leaf Market. 

You can get both your equipment and seeds from them. Not only do they sell a very large selection of microgreen seeds but they also have everything you need for your traditional garden as well.

Now, let’s grow some microgreens!

 

 

 

 

Microgreens- Easy to Grow and Why You Should