MicroGreens: A New Way to Prepare Vegetables
Jan 27, 2014 04:41PM
Food trends may come and go, but MicroGreens, the edible, young seedlings that have been gaining popularity over the past few years, are here to stay. Often confused with sprouts, MicroGreens are young plants harvested a couple of weeks after germination. Locally, greens from Heritage Prairie Farm MicroGreens are grown in rich, organic soil, with natural sunlight, inside large greenhouses.
A flowering plant or vegetable that grows two embryonic seed leaves, or cotyledons, first is known as a dicot plant. At this stage, the plants are referred to as MicroGreens. It is these young leaves that impressed Gene Lester and Qin Wang, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and University of Maryland, College Park, with the results of their study of 25 different types of MicroGreens in early 2012.
Until then, there had been no scientific data conducted on the nutritional value of MicroGreens, but what they discovered was amazing. When the scientists examined the vitamins and carotenoids of 25 commercially available MicroGreens, the results, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, showed that the young seedlings have much higher levels of vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients than mature leaves of the adult plant. Here are examples of specific health benefits of seven types of MicroGreens that are readily available.
• Arugula MicroGreens: Helps cleanse and neutralize acidic waste. High in vitamins A, K and C.
• Mustard MicroGreens: Contains powerful glucosinolates, antioxidants linked to decreasing cancer risk and enhancing the immune system. High in vitamins A, K, C and E.
• Cabbage MicroGreens: Helps control heart rate and blood pressure. High in vitamins A, K and C, and contains anthocyanins, proven to have anti-carcinogenic properties.
• Broccoli MicroGreens: Contains sulforaphane, which alleviates inflammation and helps skin damaged by the sun. High in vitamins A and C.
• Radish MicroGreens: A natural cleansing agent for digestive system, helps fight colds and sore throats. High in vitamin C, phosphorous and zinc.
• Pak Choi MicroGreens: Helps destroy free radicals and protects cells from inflammation. High in vitamins A, K, C, B2 and B6.
• Kale MicroGreens: Strengthens the body and a great anti-aging tool. High levels of vitamins A, K and C, fiber, iron, copper, manganese and copper.
MicroGreens first appeared at upscale restaurants and farmers’ markets, but they are finally becoming available at grocery stores. Not only high in nutritional value, they are also a flavorful enhancement to many dishes. Often used as an edible garnish or finishing herb, MicroGreens can also be enjoyed as an addition to a salad, smoothie or sandwich. Try them as a topping on soups, fish or roasted vegetables—get creative. Use roughly two tablespoons to get the nutritional benefits of MicroGreens, but they can also be used as the prime ingredient. Heritage Prairie Farm MicroGreens are available at Whole Foods Market and Mariano’s in the greater Chicagoland area.
Katie Drum has been a member of the MicroGreen team at Heritage Prairie Farm, a MidWest leader since 2010. The farm, located in Elburn, IL, 40 miles west of Chicago, grows MicroGreens year-round using organic growing practices. For more information, call 630-443-5989 or visit HeritagePrairieFarm.com.