Microgreens: How-Tos and Health Benefits

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By Recipe Team on April 21, 2021

We all know greens are great for us, and that we should eat them often to support good health.

But let’s be honest: Who couldn’t use a little help with that second part?

Imagine you had an inexpensive supply of just-picked greens inside your kitchen. And, they had a cute appearance that made them a hit with kids. Would that make it a little easier to enjoy your recommended healthy greens?

 Our Community Health and Outreach team at Morningside Urban Farm think so. That’s why they’re big on microgreens: young versions of many of the vegetables we know and love.

Health Benefits of Microgreens
Research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has shown that, forkful for forkful, microgreens can contain more nutrients than fully grown versions of the same vegetable, says Angela Charlton, R.D.-N., a registered dietitian and nutritionist with Carilion Clinic and Morningside Urban Farm. That means you can eat less of them and still get major nutritional benefits! 

Microgreens can be quickly and easily grown at home and indoors, no garden needed. Farmer Cam Terry recently taught new kitchen gardeners how to sow, grow and enjoy them. Read on for his how-tos and check out the video below for a step-by-step demonstration.

(Want to attend an event at the Farm? Check out CarilionClinic.org/farm and sign up!)

How To Grow Microgreens at Home
You don't need a lot of patience to grow microgreens. Many varieties can be ready to harvest within 10 days of planting. Here's what is needed:

  1. Growing containers, ideally between 1 and 2.5 inches deep, with holes for water drainage (a cleaned-out, used lettuce clamshell-type package or plastic meat tray work well)
  2. A growing medium, like soil-free growing mix
  3. Seeds; the Farm team uses organic, non-GMO seeds when possible, and they recommend:
    • Amaranth
    • Beets
    • Chard
    • Broccoli/broccoli raab
    • Cabbage
    • Celery
    • Kale
    • Pea shoots
    • Radishes
    • Sunflowers

Now, here are Cam's tips for sowing and growing microgreens:

  1. Line your container with a piece of paper and fill it with dampened growing mix.
  2. Spread seeds evenly on top and gently water with a spray bottle.
  3. Cover the container with an empty growing tray and add weight, like a heavy book.
  4. Wait a few days, then uncover it and gently water when yellowish shoots start poking through. 
  5. Cover it again for a few more days, until the microgreens begin to push the top up.
  6. After a few days, water again and leave the container uncovered in a shady location for one day.
  7. The next day, water again and place in a sunny spot until the leaves are green, round and full. 

Once your microgreens are ready to harvest, use sharp scissors or a knife to cut just the amount you want to use. Then the remaining microgreens can be returned to their sunny windowsill to keep on growing!

How To Use Microgreens
Microgreens have the best flavor when harvested right before use. They taste great:

  • On top of pizzas
  • Layered in a sandwich
  • Tossed in a smoothie
  • Sprinkled in salads
  • As a seasoning for dressings and sauces
  • As a garnish for meat dishes and soups

“You can try a half-cup of microgreens on top of a homemade cheese and veggie pizza,” suggests Angela, “or start your day by adding a handful to a chocolate-banana-almond butter smoothie.”

Watch the video below for detailed instructions from Cam.

And when you're ready to try your hand at some slightly larger scale gardening, learn how to garden for good health.

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