Article written by Alexandra Napoli, Holistic Health Coach www.alexandranapoli.com
What you need to know about microgreens and sprouts.
Whether it’s puppies ( the world’s smallest dog) or hamsters eating tiny burritos, we are obsessed with all things miniature. Sprouts and microgreens are no exception. These nutritional powerhouses were once reserved for top chefs and exclusive restaurants but now they are available at grocery stores everywhere. There are a number of reasons why you should consider adding these adorable plants to your menu regularly but first let me explain what they are.
What are microgreens and sprouts?
A microgreen is the seedling of an edible vegetable, usually less than 14 days old. They are typically grown in greenhouses year round and are often grown hydroponically (without soil). Varieties include; red cabbage, broccoli, cilantro, kale, wasabi, pea tendrils, amaranth and more. Similarly a sprout is the first growth of a grain, seed or legume that has been placed in the correct conditions for sprouting. Sprouts can also be grown hydroponically but are often grown outdoors. Varieties include; alfalfa, bean, sunflower, rye, wheat, barley, carrot seeds, coriander seeds and more.
What are the benefits?
Both microgreens and sprouts are very good for your health. Many studies show that these baby plants have much more concentrated vitamins and minerals than their adult counterparts. For example red cabbage microgreens have 40 times more vitamin E and six times more vitamin C than adult red cabbage (source:WebMD). Sprouts have been shown to have 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables. Enzymes are the molecules that make carbohydrates and proteins digestible. (source: foodfacts). Sprouting also increases the amount of available fiber in the bean, nut or seed. Microgreens and sprouts are basically concentrated versions of their adult selves. This is probably because the plant has everything it needs from day 1 to grow but has much less surface area for the nutrients to disperse.
Are there any downsides?
Because of the booming popularity of microgreens they can be expensive. If you’ve got an unlimited budget, go for it, but if this isn’t something you’d like to splurge you can either buy a limited amount or grow your own (How to Grow Microgreens in Containers at Home). You also want to make sure to eat your microgreens right away. They won’t last long in the fridge and it would be a shame to have to throw away such a delicious, nutrient packed and expensive item. It’s worth noting that there have been a number of health outbreaks, and even deaths, associated with sprouts. Bacteria like Escherichia coli (known as E.coli), salmonella and listeria all love the same warm damp conditions as sprouts need to grow. This is often compounded with use of manure in outdoor growing, a practice that is even more popular with organic farmers. While growing your own sprouts at home (Sprouting Seeds, Legumes and Grains) can reduce risk, it’s still very possible to cultivate a potentially bad batch at home. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you cook sprouts very, very well (food safety)
Although I wouldn’t recommend only eating microgreens and sprouts as you’d be missing out on a lot of fullness from the adult versions, they are a great addition to any healthy diet. They hold an intense amount of flavor in a small package and can really bring to life some of your favorite recipes. Remember to sprout safely and eat microgreens quickly and you’ll be able to fully enjoy these delicious, nutritious and tiny-tiny treats all year long.
Gluten Free Crackers with Avocado, Tomatoes and Alfalfa Sprouts.
- 10 gluten free crackers (I used Mary's super seed, organic, non-gmo, vegan)
- 1 avocado
- 5 grape tomatoes (cut into ¼ round slices)
- ½ cup alfalfa sprouts
- salt & pepper to taste
- Cut avocado in half and take out the "meat' part of the avocado. Place into a small bowl, add salt & pepper to taste and mash with a fork to desired consistency.
- Top with tomato slices and alfalfa sprouts.