Food

Microgreens: a powerhouse of nutrients

With healthy and wholesome eating becoming the order of the day, microgreens have become an extremely popular food.  An integral part of salads, soups and starters, microgreens are synonymous with health and nutrition.

Salad garnished with microgreens
Salad garnished with microgreens

What are microgreens?

Simply put, microgreens are seedlings of herbs and vegetables and are best described as being in between a sprout and a baby plant.  Also called micro herbs or vegetable confetti, they are usually 1-2 inches tall and are harvested directly from the pot onto the plate.

Microgreens
Microgreens

Some of the easiest microgreens to grow include basil, amaranth, finger millet (ragi), wheat, mustard, fenugreek (methi) and radish.   These young green vegetables can be grown easily indoors on window sills and balconies as well as outdoors whether in your kitchen garden or backyard.  It is key to note that unlike sprouts they need both soil and sunlight to grow.

Fenugreek microgreens
Fenugreek microgreens

How to grow microgreens?

All you need are the seeds, soil and a tray or a container which is preferably flat.  For the latter you can use either a conventional pot or any disposable dish you get when you order take away. Make sure the container has small holes to allow the excess water to drain out.   Fill the planter  halfway with soil or pot mix and then scatter the microgreen seeds.  Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil/pot mix and spray a little water with a mister. It will take a few days, maybe 3-7 till the first sprouts appear. Ensure that the soil is moist all the time and during summer you may have to use the mister twice a day.

Growing microgreens
Growing microgreens

The container needs to receive at least 3-4 hours of bright sunlight.  The sprouts gradually increase in height and when the first true leaves appear, you can harvest the micro herbs using a pair of scissors.  To hasten the process of germination especially in cases of fenugreek and finger millet, soaking the seeds in water for about 12-24 hours prior to sowing definitely helps.

Microgreens growing in a pot
Microgreens growing in a pot

Health Benefits

Microgreens are a powerhouse of goodness and have large amounts of vitamins and compounds like polyphenols when compared to their mature counterparts.  Most of them are rich in vitamin A, C, E, and K as well as enzymes which are essential for healthy skin, bones and overall physical and mental health.  Compounds like polyphenols are a type of antioxidant that is known to improve heart health and has a positive effect on diseases like cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Microgreens are filled with flavour and add colour, crunch and texture to just about any dish. In fact, you can use them to enhance the flavours of any savoury dish like soups, salads and sandwiches.  Add them as a garnish to a summer salad of cherry tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and ricotta cheese or even on a roasted beetroot and raw honey salad.  Include them in your morning juices and smoothies in order to boost their nutritional quotient.

An edited version of this article was originally published here.

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