What are microgreens? Discover the countless benefits of these small (but mighty) plants and learn how to incorporate them into your healthy diet.
Microgreens’ benefits range from environmental to health and nutrition — there’s seemingly nothing these little powerhouses can’t do. Want to boost the nutritional value of your meal without putting a ton of effort in? Add microgreens! Looking for sustainable ways to grow your own food but have limited space? Microgreens are a great option!
What are microgreens? If you’ve never come across them before, there are a few things you’ll want to know, including how to use them. Let’s take a look.
What Are Microgreens?
Wondering what microgreens are and how they differ from sprouts or baby greens? You’re not alone. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Microgreens are vegetables and herbs that are grown in soil from seed and harvested when they’re still very young, usually after 2 weeks. Only the stem and leaves are eaten.
- Baby greens are also vegetables and herbs that are grown from seed, but this term refers to plants that are harvested around 4 weeks — before they mature, but after they would be considered microgreens.
- Sprouts are germinated seeds and entirely different from the above two in that they are grown without soil and are consumed whole.
Microgreens pack a ton of flavor despite their small size — the taste is essentially a concentrated version of their full-grown flavor. You can easily grow microgreens at home and there is a wide variety of seeds to choose from. Popular choices include cilantro, basil, spinach, garlic, carrots, peas, beets, red cabbage, and watercress.
Interested in growing sprouts as well? Growing sprouts in a jar is easy to do at home!
The Health Benefits of Microgreens
Microgreens have been a popular ingredient in the culinary world due to their intense flavor, but that’s not the only reason you should consider adding the little plants to your meal. Not only are they low in calories, but the other health benefits of microgreens are also considerable.
Studies have shown that microgreens contain up to 5 times more nutrition in the form of vitamins and carotenoid than in the full-grown version of the same plant. The nutritional profile of each type of microgreen does differ, but most are rich in copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They also are known to be great sources of plant compounds like antioxidants, which can boost your immune system and keep your gut microbiome healthy. Microgreens’ benefits also include high levels of vitamin K and fiber, which help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Environmental Benefits of Microgreens
Growing microgreens at home is an incredible way to nourish your body while alleviating some of the strain on the planet. Microgreen crops generate much less food waste compared to their full-grown counterparts since everything but the roots are consumed.
Microgreens also grow very quickly and don’t require much space. They can be grown on windowsills alongside an herb garden or anywhere else you find room. As a result, they can be grown locally and harvested quickly, eliminating the need for carbon-intensive transport routes.
Another microgreen benefit is that fewer resources are required. You don’t need to be worrying about herbicides or other pesticides with these little crops — all they require is water, sunlight, and air. This makes nutritional food more accessible as microgreens can be grown year-round.
Recipes and Uses
Both the health and environmental benefits of microgreens should have you wondering how to incorporate them into your diet. We’ve got you covered with some creative uses of these tiny little nutrient bombs. You can enjoy microgreens:
- as a garnish to homemade hummus or other dips, like Greek eggplant dip
- as a topping for vegan sandwiches
- blended into pre- and post-workout smoothies
- mixed into omelets
- as a garnish for hearty winter soups
- as an additional green in a spring salad
- as a vegan pizza topping — just be sure to add them on after the pizza has come out of the oven!
- on vegan crostinis
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