Back in my restaurant days, these cute little greens (a.k.a microgreens) were just garnishes I’d put to finish the look of a dish. Now, I intentionally add them to savoury dishes in order to increase their nutritional profile. I love buying mine at the local farmers market but you can also buy them at specialty foods stores like Choices, Green’s Market, Whole Foods, and Donald’s Market. You can grow your own as well if you are so inclined!
♥ WHAT ARE MICROGREENS?
Microgreens are seedlings from vegetables and herbs that have been sprouted and grown in soil. They require minimal sunlight and can be grown indoors by a windowsill or in the kitchen. They are harvested young at seedling stage. They take less time to grow compared to their mature counterparts, only taking 7 to 14 days as opposed to 8 to 10 weeks.
While sprouts germinate in water, microgreens require soil and sunlight in order to grow. Microgreens are essentially just a step ahead in the growth process, developing more nutrients as they undergo photosynthesis.
Once microgreens have been cut, they only have a few days of shelf life so it’s best to eat them within 3-5 days. Store in the fridge between damp paper towels or in a resealable bag or container. Cooking them is definitely not recommended as it will destroy their beneficial enzymes.
♥ HEALTH BENEFITS
Microgreens contain a higher concentration of nutrients compared to their fully grown counterparts. The nutrients vary depending on the type of microgreens you consume. Leafy greens are a good source of beta-carotene, iron, and calcium while dark green leafy vegetables are high in lutein and zeaxanthin. Overall, they are loaded with beta-carotein, vitamin C, E, K and lutein. They have a higher antioxidant content and are considered to be a functional food, promoting health and helping prevent diseases.
Because of their nutritonal value, microgreens are beneficial for reducing risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. They help boost energy, fight inflammation, lower weight, maintain healthy skin and eyes, promote liver and bone development, strengthen immunity, increase life expectancy and help fight cancers.
In general, these microgreens are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Add a little bit to your savoury dishes to increase your daily nutrient intake!
♥ FLAVOUR PROFILE
The flavour of each microgreens depends on the plant they come from, it ranges from mild to intense, sweet to spicy, tangy and peppery. Their flavours are definitely more intense than their mature leafy greens.
Below are the more popular microgreens used in mixes found at the farmers market or grocery stores. Just in case you were wondering, I have *starred* my favourites! 🙂
Amaranth – a beautifully purple microgreen with a mild earthy flavour. Because of it’s mild taste, it goes well with both savoury and sweet dishes.
*Arugula – also known as rocket, is related to both radish and watercress so it’s flavours are similar, being slightly hot, peppery bite with an earthy finish.
*Basil – spicy peppery taste, best paired in dishes with tomatoes such as pizzas and pastas.
*Beets – also known as “bull’s blood,” is sweet and tender with (can you guess?) a beet-y flavour!
Chervil – the flavour is reminiscent of anise or licorice.
Cilantro – a more bold cilantro flavour with a sweet and citrusy aroma. A great substitute for dishes with cilantro such as pico de gallo and guacamole, without having to chop the herbs .
Kale – milder than the usual bitterness of a mature kale plant.
Mizuna – has a mustardy taste, mild and peppery.
*Radish – similar to a full grown radish, it’s spicy with a kick or pleasantly peppery.
*Sunflower – sweet, mild and nutty flavour.
Swiss Chard – mild beet-like flavour.
Because of their varying flavours and nutrient content, it is best to mix and match all these beautiful tiny little plants.
♥ DISH IDEAS
Microgreens can be used in plenty of dishes! Add them to smoothies, sandwiches, salads, soups, tacos, wraps, on top of fish, chicken, beef, pizza, pasta, toasts, crepes, and so on…
Below are a few photos of how I have used microgreens to complete a dish in both flavour, nutrition and appearance. May it inspire you to add more microgreens into your life!
♥ LIVING PRODUCE ISLE
Living Produce Isle is one of my favourite stores to walk into! You can walk in and look at various microgreens growing from urban cultivator appliances. It’s such a beautiful sight to see! As you enter, you’ll smell the nutrients of these microgreens oozing out of the store as smoothies are being created from freshly cut microgreens. They grow a variety of greens including micro arugula, broccoli, kale, radish, sunflower and wheatgrass. Their storefront is located in Yaletown at 1168 Hamilton Street. Go check them out!
Nutritgreens is a farm in Abbotsford, BC that was started by Serge Krivoy in August 2009. Serge was inspired by his mother who passed away due to pancreatic cancer. He found that by feeding her these microgreens that he grew himself, she was able to extend her life a little bit longer compared to other pancreatic patients. He believes that these microgreens are living vitamins and he grows them with love to share with others. Visit Nutrigreens at various local farmers market in the city and support local farmers. For more info, check out nutrigreens.ca
Friend a Farmer, Eat Microgreens and Be Happy! 🙂