Crop Focus – Red Cabbage Micro-greens

There are a few micro-green varieties that we grow specifically for their nutritional content, and Red Cabbage is one of them.   Many chefs prefer these micros for their amazing purple stems and dark green leaf.  They typically use them as a beautiful garnishment but there is so much more to them.  If you come across them on your plate…EAT THEM!

The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported on a study of mice that were fed high fat diets and supplemented with red cabbage micro greens.  The results were amazing!  The ones that were supplemented with the red cabbage micros had reduced circulating LDL cholesterol, cholesterol ester, triglyceride levels and inflammatory markers located in the liver!  In short, this means that these potent greens can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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According to Dr Mercola, Red Cabbage Micro-greens contain the biggest “Bang for Your Nutritional Buck.”  The micro green form contains 40 times more vitamin E and 6 times more vitamin C than the fully grown veggie.   They also are a great source of L-Glutamine which helps heal the soft tissue lining of your intestine and stomach lining, making it great for people with Celiac Disease, Chron’s Disease, IBS, and Ulcerative Colitis.  All of these vitamins and minerals also help keep your immune system strong giving you the best chance to fight off any illness that comes your way!

The purple color specifically brings in great nutrition as well.  Purple pigment of plants is provided by the anthocyanin content.   The anthocyanin’s help cells heal from damage and protect you from lifestyle diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and neurological diseases.  According to foodrevolution.com they are also a great anti-inflammatory, providing protection from all types of chronic diseases.

Another great side effect of incorporating micro-greens into your diet is weight control.  The high levels of vitamin C and low calorie content help the body burn fat.  Studies have shown that in order to burn fat efficiently, your body will need adequate levels of vitamin C.  In fact, studies show that those with adequate vitamin C levels burn 30% more fat than those with low levels.

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Now for the best part….these tiny superfoods taste amazing and show even better.  Pile them onto your next sandwich or wrap.   Sprinkle them onto your cup of soup for a little extra purple pop.  Mix them into your salad and you won’t be disappointed.  Just remember to eat them raw.   Cooking them detoriates the great nutritional content so add them to the plate after the meal is cooked.  

We find our family reaching for these red cabbage micros more than others.   We must eat with our eyes…and for good reason.  Topping any meal with red cabbage micro-greens is a good idea.  Their mild taste also makes it a favorite for kids and picky eaters.  Pick up a package of these potent greens today!  Your body will thank you.

Crop Focus – Purple Kohlrabi Micro-greens

C882AFA3-BDE0-40F8-AA1A-59EFAE826D16Kohlrabi is a lesser known veggie on the scene.  It resides in the Brassica family, like broccoli or cauliflower, and forms a bulb at the base of the plant.  The entire plant is edible and is commonly either green or purple in color.  The bulb that is formed at the base of the plant is crispy and tastes kind of like jicama or a sweet turnip.  The leaves are similar in taste to collard greens, and can be prepared the same way.  Now that we know what the fully grown veggie is, lets jump into the micro green form.

We grow the purple version for our micro greens.  The light purple stem and bright green top is a beautiful sight that is packed with nutritional goodness.  Loaded up with vitamins like C and K, and made up of nearly 30% plant protein, these micro-greens are a true superfood!

IMG_0562All micro-greens are overflowing with great nutrition, but purple and red varieties are especially densely charged with antioxidants.  According to HealthFoodEvolution.com, the purple pigment that gives the purple and red colors in fruits and veggies is a great source for Anthocyanins.  These Anthocyanins protect our cells from lifestyle based damage, like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological disease.  Purple fruits, veggies and herbs have been used in natural medicine to help with the common cold, hypertension and even liver disorders.

Anthocyanins are our best friends.  No wonder our eyes are dawn to colors.  They are nutritious!  These antioxidants work hard to lower your inflammatory response.  Eat more purple colored veggies to lower your chronic inflammation.  This will help all inflammation based illness, but specifically lowers the burden on your cardiovascular system.  They can even lower your artery stiffness and lower blood pressure.  These anthocyanin’s also help with your overall brain health by enhancing memory and preventing age related decline.

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Who knew the color purple would be so important?  The good news is that micro-greens of all types are a great compact source of nutritional content.  Purple kohlrabi micro-greens are a great source of these potent antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  And the best news of all, they taste amazing!

Tasting slightly of spinach and cabbage, these tiny greens go great in any salad or sandwich.   Top your favorite soup for a perfect splash of purple color!  The mild flavor and texture of these micro-greens make them a perfect pair for your fruit smoothie too.  You can also find kohlrabi micro-greens in our mild mix alongside broccoli, kale and red cabbage!  Now that’s a power packed lineup!

Crop Focus – Radish Microgreens

IMG_2326When gardening, some old school gardeners will use radish seeds to mark their rows so they know where slow germinating seeds were planted, like carrots.  Radishes are a quick growing crop in the field.  Taking just about 4 weeks from seed sowing to harvest, they pop from the soil quickly, which makes them great for marking rows.  The micro-green form is no different.  In the middle of summer, we can harvest our radish shoots in just 6-7 days from seed to harvest!  This makes it one of the fastest growing crops that we produce, edging out broccoli micro-greens by just a day or two.

IMG_1051Not only do they grow extremely fast, but they bring the nutrition too!  It’s interesting to think about, but radishes reside in the brassica family, just like broccoli, cauliflower and mustard.  Brassicas are known for their superior nutritional content and radishes are no different.  In fact, according to HealWithFood.Org, radish and broccoli micro-greens contain greatest quantities of glucosinolate, which is thought to fight cancer.   They are also great sources of folate and vitamin B6.  If you’re looking to loose weight, these greens are packed with vitamin C which aides in burning fat.  Plus, vitamin c helps with healthy skin and removes free radicals making your skin glow!  According to MarkitoFitness, radish micro-greens are 30% protein too!

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The crunch and flavor delivered by radish micros makes them the perfect pair for any sandwich or wrap.   They also shine in tacos and have really shown well in sushi rolls.   They are crunchy and just the right texture to add to your salad, to really push the nutritional content.  They are also just crunchy enough to perfectly top off your bowl of chili or tomato soup.  Really the uses are endless.   Radishes, more than other micro-greens varieties, don’t have any specific go to recipes for us, but they go well with anything so they are always on hand.

Radish Micros are the backbone of our spicy mixed micro-greens, which also includes mustard and arugula.  The watery heat accompanies the horseradish and peppery flavors to create a lovely complex flavor that is begging to be part of your breakfast sandwich.  If you like heat, you will love these greens.

 

 

Crop Focus: Pea Shoots

When we decided to start growing micro greens for our family, we started with Peas.  They are easy to grow, yield well, and taste amazing!  Not to mention, they are an amazing source of vitamins, minerals, and plant based protein.  Our family has a few food allergies, including celiac disease, which destroys the gut microbiome.  When this happens, the body’s ability for nutritional uptake is seriously compromised.  Instead of reaching for vitamins off the shelf, we reach for our micro-greens!

IMG_0282According to Makito Nutrition, Pea Shoots contain 7 times the vitamin C content compared to blueberries, 8 times the folate content compared to bean sprouts, and 4 times the vitamin A content in tomatoes.   That is a ton of nutritional content in a tiny package!  In fact, according to Health Diaries, 1 cup of pea shoots contains 35% of the vitamin C and 15% of the vitamin A daily recommended values.  In addition to the high vitamin content, according to SuperFood Evolution, pea shoots are 20-25% protein!  Thats makes it a great source for plant based protein!

As with most micro-greens, they are high in fiber and low in calories, making them perfect for blood sugar control.  Plus, since they are low in calories and extremely nutrient dense they are perfect for weight control and curbing cravings!

IMG_0044Tasting of a mix of spinach and peas in the shell right off the vine, they are fun to cook with.  For maximum nutrition, they should be eaten raw.  Try them in nori-rolls, sushi, or  add them to your salad mix for a crunch that will remind you of the garden year round!  Historically, they have been popular in Asian Cousine.  Though they are best raw, they can also be cooked lightly in dishes like stir fry or added to a warm soup.  We also enjoy them blended into protein packed smoothies!

Some people have also been warned that they should avoid legumes because of the lectin content.  It should be noted that sprouting reduces these lectins and cooking them further reduces the lectin content.


An eye catcher on the farm stand, pea shoots should be on your shopping list.  They have a longer shelf life than other micro-greens, making them a great thing to keep on hand in the fridge.   If you grow them at home or purchase our live trays, keep in mind that you can harvest pea shoots a couple times.  We typically see customers getting 3 or 4 harvests, and more if they are potted up or put into the garden!

These crunchy greens make the perfect snack or a beautiful garnish to a lovely home cooked meal.  Kids love them and adults are intrigued by them.  Try some pea shoots today, and know that you’re investing in your health when you choose these tasty micro-greens!img_0163-1.jpg

 

 

Eating Greens Does the Body Good!

We all know we should eat more leafy greens.   I was told that for years and I brushed it off for later in life.   I mean, who wants to really eat a sad side salad with iceberg lettuce and carrot shavings?  No-one does.  No-One.  But the truth is that leafy greens are truly amazing for a healthy balanced diet.

IMG_2218First off, they are high in nutrient and mineral content while being very low in calories and fat.  This means you can pile them high on a plate and you’ll get full before you start packing on the extra lbs.   All leafy greens are charged with loads of vitamins like A, C, and E, and minerals like Copper, Zinc, Selenium and Potassium.  Vitamin C alone has a major impact on the bodies ability to burn fat.  Low levels of vitamin C appear to hamper the bodies ability to shed fat.  Think of it this way…its not the salads that help you loose weight, its the high nutrient content that is allowing the body to function as designed!

IMG_0285Another thing we need in our diet is fiber, and greens contain fiber in spades.   Fiber is not digested by the body but it helps the body in many ways.   It helps with satiation.  You will feel fuller, longer, when you’re consuming enough fiber in your meals.  Beyond being fuller, it will help slow the absorption of sugars which helps regulate your blood sugar levels.  No more crashing when you’re eating enough fiber!

When you’re consuming a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber from your food sources you’ll notice a few things.  You will have increased cognitive function, increased energy, increased weight loss, and an overall more youthful appearance!  Who doesn’t want that?

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All greens bring something to the table, but the darker the greens, the more mineral and nutrient content.  So don’t shy away from Kale, Chard, Spinach, Broccoli, Collards and other greens like that.  And of course Microgreens!   Microgreens are more nutrient and mineral dense than even the fully grown leafy greens so make sure they are a part of your meal planning as well.  Red Cabbage, Broccoli, Kale, and Kohlrabi Microgreens are the darkest of our micros, so they are always a good choice to really boost your nutritional intake!  Plus they all taste great.

At first you’ll wonder how you can eat all of these greens.  But, after a while you’ll find yourself looking for even more greens.   We have been actively adding greens to our meals for 3 years now and there hasn’t been a meal without some sort of greens on the plate.   Bringing color and beauty to the plate, when you eat greens regularly, you’ll really miss them when they aren’t on the plate.

 

How To Eat Microgreens

There are a few repeat questions that I get at every farmers market, and they tend to focus on “how do you eat these?” or “are these just for salads?”.  The answer is always “Yes, they are great for adding to a salad, but they are really amazing added to any dish!”

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Microgreens are delicate and they need to be treated with a little care, but they are not hard to cook with or add into any dish.  Because they are delicate, its important to not introduce to heat.  They should be added after the meal is cooked and starting to cool.  We like to serve dinner plated and have good selection of microgreens to choose from at the center of the table, just like dressing or salt and pepper.  In cooler meals, like cold pasta salad or sushi rolls, the greens can be added right into the mix.  Same thing with salads.  Feel free to mix them in with your salad greens or sprinkle on top.

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We like to think of them as a nutritional supplement and use them to meet our daily requirements of many vitamins and minerals.  For instance, broccoli microgreens are likely the most nutritious greens that we grow.  Just 2 oz of these greens have the nutritional density of 2.5 lbs of broccoli flourettes.   When you’re using microgreens at every meal, you’re really just adding a little more nutrition every time you eat.   That adds up!  Just one small package is like consuming an extra 2 or 3 lbs of broccoli by the end of the week.

Plus, after a while, the plate just seems lacking without a splash of green or purple.  Once you get hooked, they are hard to quit.  But who doesn’t need a new healthy habit for the new year?

 

My road to healing part 3: how to feel better

-Guest Blog by Dr. Ann Croghan, PT, DPT, CLC

How to feel better?

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Start small. Do what you can. Have compassion for yourself.

Identify one part of your food habit that you know you should change AND then change it.  For me: it was dairy. Giving up dairy helped me to realize that I was sick and that I could feel better.  Look up the requirements for how long you need to completely avoid that food to know if it is contributing.  Dairy is a complete avoidance for 2-4 weeks. If you mess up, you have to start over. AND you need to know where that food hides. The milk protein casein hides in many things.  Did you know there is such a thing as vegan wine? Or that some non dairy coffee creamers have dairy? Or they use dairy in sausage cassing?

For dairy, there are three main proteins: lactose (which everyone knows), casein, whey. Funny enough, lactose never made me feel sick. So don’t use that as your baseline.

People say to me: “BUT CHEESE? I love cheese!”.  My response? I didn’t love my back pain. I didn’t love my: fatigue, depression, stiffness, hip pain, knee pain, leg pain, asthma, ringing in my ears…… ALL things I didn’t know I could change. My life is so much better without those food choices. And if we continue to advocate for change in the food we eat, we will see more people get better. We will see more restaurants serving food that support healthy minds and bodies.

Ask your loved ones to support you. Staying away from dairy was easier at first because Matt kept it out of the house.

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Living without dairy is easy: there are plant milks, coconut oil, you can make cashews into different kinds of cheese/cream/spread, bananas make the perfect ice cream. All of these choices are cheeper too! Plus I don’t feel terrible anymore.

 

Living without wheat, corn, soy. Read labels. Make your own food. Buy some gluten free bread from Little Red Hen.  On a daily basis I make a choice to feel better. I would rather not eat for the day than have food that will make me sick. Because my body has what it needs to function, I don’t feel terribly hungry any more. I don’t have hangery moments, or hunger crashes, or times where I HAVE TO EAT!!!!!

Add in living, nutrient dense food. You have a lot to make up for. Bananas, blueberry smoothies, lemons, apples, cauliflower, broccoli, peas. Of course: Microgreens!!! Grow your own lettuce, veggies, lemons, herbs.  It’s easy to grow your food. Why take care of a small 4×4 grass space in your yard that serves no purpose? Make it a garden instead.

Support your local farmer.

Support your local restaurant that uses food from the local farmer and not just food from the food truck….. unless it’s The Valley Roots Food Hub.

Don’t let people get to you. We only have this one life. I want to live this life without: fatigue, pain, depression, ringing in my ears, ridges in my nails, sickness. I want to live this life with: energy and laughter.  And for the last few years, I have been doing just that.

Thank you to my wonderful husband Matt for his drive to bring nutrient dense food to his family, to his community, and to inspire other farmers/gardeners to do the same. It’s time to make a change.

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Our Microgreen Menu Entering 2018

We like to grow a wide variety of microgreens that have a wide range of flavors as well as nutrition profiles.  Some are spicy, while some are mild in flavor.   Some are crunchy and some are delicate in texture.  Some are easy to grow while others are difficult.   Most grow quickly while others can take much longer.   Many varieties we continue to grow weekly, while a few we have taken out of rotation all together.   Here is a list of our menu going into 2018.  Keep an eye out for individual varieties as well as mixes.

Radish Microgreens-
Daikon Radish are the first microgreens that we started with.  They are easy to grow and finish quickly.  We now supplement with China Rose, and Purple Radish for some additional color and crunch.   No matter the color, they all pack the full radish flavor into these lovely tall greens.   They are really perfect for your next salad or sandwich that you want a little spicy kick to.  They are a great source of Vitamin C along with many other vital vitamins and minerals.
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Mustard Microgreens-
We love the spicy flavor that these bring.  Any wasabi or horse-radish fans out there?  These extremely potent microgreens are another perfect match for any dish that needs a little added heat.   They will replace your hot sauce!  And since they can replace your hot sauce, they need to be a staple in your kitchen because they go good on everything!  Our favorite is adding them to a nice pasta dish with some colorful roasted veggies.
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Arugula Microgreens-
They have the full flavor that arugula is famous for and are so delicate you can hardly tell they there, if it weren’t for the flavor.  The perfect pair for a baked potato or added to pasta like parmesan cheese!  If your an arugula fan, these micros will be a game changer for you.   They are our lowest yielding crop as well as the most difficult to grow.  Due to this, its hit or miss if this one is available, but when it is it goes fast!
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Broccoli Microgreens-
If you need some additional nutrition of all kinds or you’re healing from an illness or disease, these should be your best friend.  We prefer broccoli Micros for their nutritional content and texture.  They are not as crunchy as radish, but not as delicate as Arugula.  Stack these high on hummus sandwhiches with some avocado and fresh tomato slices for a great lunch sandwich.  We started growing these following many reports of their nutritional punch and we can vouch for that.  Our family eats them daily, and if we don’t we feel the drag.  Great for morning, noon and night!  One small package of our greens is equal to the nutritional content of almost 2 lbs. of broccoli florets!
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Kale Microgreens-
Everyone knows of the superfood status that Kale has.  My problem with kale is that its tough to eat much of it because of the texture of full size kale.  I have even been told by people that Kale tastes “soapy”.  Well fear not!  Kale Microgreens are a perfect way to get more nutrition than even the full size kale.  Use these to top your tacos with these instead of the boring iceberg and you’ll never go back!  We also love these mixed along with broccoli, and red cabbage micros to make a great rainbow micro-green salad!
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Red Cabbage Microgreens-
The deep purple color of these popular greens are a show stopper and perfect for your next dinner party.  Your guests will enjoy the health benefits associated with that beauty!  These greens crush “bad” cholesterol and are being cheered for their nutritional potency by many recent studies.  Not to mention scientists are looking into the cancer fighting ability of all purple veggies!  These micros are so colorful that they will really stand out on your next dinner party or afternoon lunch!  Like Broccoli, these continue to be on our menu not only for the color and taste, but because they are true medicine.
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Purple Kohlrabi Microgreens-
Slightly more delicate than the Red Cabbage, but not lacking in flavor is Kohlrabi!  We grow this one for our daughter.  She has this on her plate with every meal.  It has been her favorite from day one….and she is 3!

Its versatile enough to have at breakfast and to pack away for your lunch on the trail.  They are a part of the mild mix trio that we sell and was the first purple crop that we produced.  It is still requested aside the Red Cabbage so we keep in in our main rotation!
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Cilantro Microgreens-
For the Cilantro lover out there, these are an experience to be had!  They should be a part of your next taco party or blended into your morning smoothie.  The greens are big cilantro flavor while the shell is tastes sharply of coriander spice!  This sweet green takes twice as long as any other green that we grow.  Nearly 2 weeks for germination alone!  But the wait is worth it.   Due to the constant demand, these have made their way into our weekly rotation in a limited quantity.
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Sunflower Shoots –
By far and away our most requested microgreen.   We have not found anyone that doesn’t like these crunchy snacks.  These are great to add to your next salad as it has a great crunch that will stand out amongst the mixed greens.  Our family favorite is adding them to peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwhiches.  They have a great fresh nutty taste that kiddos cannot stop snacking on.   What parent doesn’t love that?  The energy packed into these greens make them perfect to bring alongside your tail mix for a mid-hike snack!
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Pea Shoots – 
Rounding out our menu is the Pea Shoot.  These taste like a summer in the garden.   The tendrils as they are called are commonly used as an interesting garnishment, but is much more capable than that.  We started with Radish and Pea Shoots and still grow both!  We love these long and crunchy greens in wraps.   Their length and texture work perfectly in sushi and their pea flavor works well in any salad!  These hardy greens will last forever in your fridge as well.   We have reported them lasting 3-4 weeks after cutting!
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As you can see, we have a vast selection of flavors to choose from.   In addition to these, we also grow Wheat Grass, Micro-Leeks, Micro-Chives, Celery, Red Amaranth and many more that come and go throughout the year!  We love the variety that nature provides and love to hear feedback on your favorite variety.  Any varieties we arent growing that we should?  Let us know!   We love experimenting!

You can find our greens at Simple Foods Market in Salida, CO and Elephant Cloud Market in Crestone, CO.   Contact us direct for custom orders!  Happy New Year, and may 2018 be very green for your family!

Food Allergies and our Family

For the last 7 years, food allergies have shaped our family and is truly the reason why we started Poncha Creek Gardens.   Our journey began when my wife discovered she had an intense allergy to dairy products through a difficult and long process of searching for answers.  She suffered from intense fatigue as well as muscle and joint pain that seemed totally random.   After she realized the trigger and we removed all dairy products she felt better than she had in years.   No more fatigue and inflammation was down significantly.  I also went dairy free and felt the same responses even though I never was conscious of the symptoms I was experiencing.   

Going dairy free wasn’t too hard.  We were still able to go out to dinner.  Even pizza!    Fast forward a few years and our first daughter, Aspen, turns 1 and starts eating solid food.   Immediately she had diarrhea, rashes and dramatic behavior issues like rage and violence.  Celiac Disease runs in my family, so we cut wheat out immediately for the whole family.   Aspen got 90% better and my response was equally dramatic.   No more rage and our little sweet girl was back.  Over a few weeks I felt all my inflammation disappear.   I had no fatigue.  My depression and bad mood had lifted.   It was a total game changer.   So without an actual diagnosis, we confirmed that Aspen and I have Celiac Disease or at a minimum a severe intolerance.   

Although Aspen was better, she still had eczema around her mouth.   We came across some research linking eczema with egg consumption.  So we peeled that layer back and got rid of eggs.    The rash was gone in days.  We never missed eggs too much and wondered if they also contributed to some of the celiac symptoms we were experiencing. 

After a year of fully dairy-free and gluten-free diets, we hit another plateau and realized there were more things slowing our path to fully healing.  We then gave up all alcohol, corn, soy, canola oil and natural flavors.  We now follow a whole food plant based diet and try to eat mostly food we grow or source from other local farms in the area.  

 The benefits of the fresh local plant based diet have been outstanding.   We crave only the food we cook and are hardly tempted by more convenient dining options.  Food has become a cornerstone for our family.  If we go out for any social event we either bring our own picnic or eat before we go.   It’s a huge change from our old eating habits of enjoying all the delicious restaurants and dessert spots, but honestly if I could go back, I would go back and make these changes a lot earlier.