If you’re looking to up the ante with more nutrients and enzymes in your diet in an easy, whole food-based way, try consuming more microgreens and sprouts. I’ve personally been a sprout farmer of late! I’ve been thrilled having a bigger space here in LA, and I’ve been sprouting a lot and got trays to even grow bigger sprouts like sunflower sprouts.
A recent University of Maryland Department of Nutrition and Food Science study showed that the microgreens from 25 nutritious vegetables contained higher concentrations of essential vitamins and carotenoids than fully mature varieties. These healthful plants are also higher in beneficial enzymes and phytonutrients than their full-grown counterparts. In fact, one study showed that broccoli sprouts were high in inducers of enzymes that offer protective benefits against carcinogens. The International Sprout Growers Association also lists some of the benefits of various types of sprouts:
• Alfalfa sprouts are high in antioxidants and may prevent menopausal symptoms.
• Broccoli sprouts reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
• Clover sprouts fight cancer.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are very young seedlings of leafy plants, such as spinach, that are harvested within 14 days of seed germination. They are very tender and have a mild flavor that is similar to their full-grown counterparts.
Since microgreens are at their most nutritious right after harvesting and they can be expensive to purchase, your best bet is to purchase them fresh at farmers’ markets or grow them yourself. Fortunately, because you harvest them when they are small, you can grow microgreens in small containers on a windowsill, even in the winter months.
To grow microgreens:
1. Gather several small, well-drained pots. You can even used clamshell packaging from cherry tomatoes or strawberries.
2. Punch several drainage holes in the bottom of your growing container.
3. Fill the container with potting or seed starting mix and moisten well.
4. Sprinkle seeds over the surface of the container with about 1/8” between seeds.
5. Cover with a very small layer of soil.
6. Set in a sunny windowsill on a drip tray and water.
7. Keep soil most, but not soaked.
8. Harvest at about 2 weeks, when greens are about 1-3 inches high.
Microgreens are delicious by themselves. You can also sprinkle them atop sandwiches or wraps, include them in your Glowing Green Smoothie, or toss them in a salad. Enjoy them raw for the most nutrition. I include them in most all of the dishes I serve to my clients, either tossed in their salad, or topped on whatever they are eating.
What Are Sprouts?
Sprouts come from soaking vegetable, bean, or grain seeds so they begin to root and sprout. There are variety of types ranging from bean sprouts to spicy sprouts from radishes. You can find sprouts at local grocery stores, co-ops, and farmers’ markets, or you can grow them yourself.
To grow sprouts:
1. In a clean container, combine three parts water to one part seed. Mix thoroughly.
2. Soak seeds overnight.
3. Rinse seeds in a colander thoroughly.
4. Place seeds in a jar with cheesecloth secured over the top.
5. Every morning and evening, rinse the seeds with fresh water, drain, and return to the cleaned jar.
6. Serve when seeds sprout.
Like microgreens, you can eat sprouts by themselves, toss them in your Glowing Green Smoothie, or serve atop a salad. Heating the sprouts will affect their nutritive value, so serve them raw, but be sure to wash ones you buy really well.