Crop Focus: Broccoli Microgreens

Our journey in micro-greens and farming all started with lots of research.  Celiac Disease had left our young family nutrient deficient and we needed to get some highly nutritious food into our diets immediately.   It’s not only us that is struggling with nutrient deficiency, but according to a 2017 study, two-thirds of the worlds population is also suffering the same.  It was surprising to read that nutrient deficiency is not just a third world country problem, but it affects all of the world, regardless of economic strength.  Additionaly, one-third of the worlds population is overweight as well as undernourished.  The food that we are currently surviving on in this world is not doing the trick.

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Over fifty percent of the worlds population lives in city centers, but most of the produce is grown in rural areas.  This requires massive distribution efforts.  According to that same 2017 Study, food distribution  comprises up to 10% of the total energy budget.  This system requires food to travel long distances and also limits the food diversity to products that will have long shelf lives.   The result is an increased reliance on processed and or packaged foods, and not on the nutrient dense farm fresh foods that our bodies require.

Microgreens are a solid solution to help us all get the nutrients that our current food model doesn’t allow for.  Broccoli Microgreens specifically, are one of the most nutrient dense foods you can source on this planet!  The same 2017 study found that broccoli microgreens are 1.73 times more nutritional dense than fully grown broccoli flourettes.  Thats a big deal!  Plus, they are a great source of sulphorphane, which reduces the chances of cancer forming by cleaning out the cells.  According to Livestrong.com, broccoli microgreens are at top of the list for foods that contain sulphophane.  At three days old, they contain anywhere from 10-100 times the sulphophane than fully grown broccoli or cauliflower!  Broccoli Microgreens are also a great source for potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, magnesium and other important vitamins and minerals.  They truly are a living vitamin!

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It’s amazing how much nutrition is packed into these tiny leafs.  Not only are broccoli microgreens more nutrient dense, but they also grow over 90% faster and use up to 236 times less water than fully grown broccoli!  Broccoli fouretts typically take 100 to 150 days to harvest, where as the broccoli microgreens are harvested in 10-14 days.  The best part about microgreens is that they are easy to grow indoors and don’t require fertilization or pesticide use.  They can be easily grown regionally and distributed locally which can drastically reduce the environmental strains brought on by the current large scale distribution model.  They are delicate, so they can’t travel far, and will therefor not loose their nutritional content due to long term storage.

The same 2017 Study noted that food sold at a grocery store would travel an average of 1800 miles prior to hitting the shelf.  This travel requirement reduces the available produce to those crops that has long shelf lives.  By adding microgreens to your diet you will be adding to your food diversity as well as your nutritional intake diversity.  It was found that peas stored at room temperature loose 50% of their vitamin C in 7 days and spinach looses 100% of the vitamin C within just 4 days!  When you have to rely on the standard food model grab those micro-greens to get back that lost nutrition!

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When you’re in Salida, we have you covered!  Simple Foods Market always has our Broccoli Microgreens in stock as well as a great assortment of farm fresh produce from hyper local farms in our area.  We produce our micro-greens year round to make sure that you can always source nutrient dense food, even in the dead of winter!  If its summertime, we will be at the Farmers Market alongside some great producers in the area that supply our wonderful valley with great produce that doesn’t have to make that travel either!

Make sure you check out our blog post on How to Eat Microgreens to maximize your nutritional benefits!  Also check out our post on Tips for Storing Microgreens to keep them fresher longer.

 

 

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

 

 

Crop Focus : Sunflower Shoots

 

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Sunflower Shoots are seedlings of sunflower plants that are grown from 10-14 days.  The crunchy greens tastes like slightly sweet raw sunflower seeds, making them a popular crop.  Everyone loves sunflower seeds, and not surprisingly, they also love these sunflower shoots.

Similar to sunflower seeds, their shoots are also a great source of good, unsaturated fat.  As you would expect, they are also the most calorie dense micro-green that we grow.  Just 1/4 cup of Sunny Shoots contains 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.  As comparison, 1/4 cup of dry roasted sunflower seeds contains 207 calories and 19 grams of fat.

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In addition to fat, they are also a great source of plant based protein.  The shoots contain nearly 40% protein and 8 amino acids!  Beyond that, sprouting naturally releases some enzymes that make the greens much more digestible than in seed form.  When grown in soil, they also take up the minerals from the soil which boosts the vitamin and mineral content in the shoot form.

Pregnant or Breast Feeding Women should also know that sunny shoots are a great source of folate.  Men should know too, that they are a great source of zinc, which will help your sperm counts.  Nothing better than fresh vitamins and minerals from your food!

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Not only are they amazing for you, they also taste great!  Other than pea shoots, these are the most durable micro-greens that we grow, making them surprisingly versatile.  They are great mixed into any salad mix to provide a sweet nutty crunch or even used as the main ingredient in sunflower shoot pesto!  We really enjoy the taste and texture they provide to a fruit smoothie.  Sometimes though, the simpler the better.  When we have sunflower shoots left over at the end of the week (which rarely happens), our go to is sunflower shoot and nut butter sandwich.  Toast, Nut Butter of Choice, Sunflower Shoots and Honey.   Thats all.  It rivals the standard PB&J.  Its a common snack for us on the ski lift between run, or packed into a cold pack for a snack along the trail.  This sandwich will give you all the energy you need to fully enjoy your next adventure!

Even that simple sandwich is too many steps for many people!  Snacking like they are popcorn works too!  Kids love these tiny greens too.   They are fun, and crunchy, and sweet.  Its hard to find a kid that turns them down, so if you’re looking for a healthy snack that your kid will actually eat….try this sandwich and leave the rest of the box out for your kid to snack on too.  They will be eating greens and not even care, or they may even like it and try others!

 

Tips for Storing Microgreens

IMG_1607At least one time each farmers market we get the question, “So, what do we do with these?  Do they need to be refrigerated?”  The short answer is yes.  They need to stay cold after harvesting, just like the salad mix.  Beyond keeping refrigerated, there are a few more storage tips that will maximize your micro-greens shelf life.

Let’s start with the harvest day.  Whether you grow them at home, or buy one of our packages, the shelf life timer starts ticking at harvest day.   Obviously the best way to consume micro-greens is to harvest them directly to the plate and consume without having to store them.  The reality is that, lots of people are purchasing greens or harvesting lots at a time and want to get the longest shelf life as possible.  Once the greens are harvested, they should be put into a container and directly into the fridge.  We harvest in the cool of the early mornings or late evenings so the ambient temperature of the greens is on the cooler side as well.  We also wait 12-15 hours after the last watering to harvest.   The cooler temps will keep the greens crisp and the time between waterings will allow the greens to dry out enough to harvest without extra moisture.  Don’t wait too long to harvest after watering though….those little greens are very water dependent so it’s important to hit that window where the greens are as dry as possible, but still full of life and standing tall!  In order to get a great shelf life, these parts of the process are imperative.

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Next, let’s chat about containers.  We don’t like using the plastic packaging, but the truth is, it’s the best packaging that we can send our harvest out the door in.  The sturdiness of the containers will keep the greens safe from bruising.  Thats the main reason we use clamshells.  When you harvest them at home or buy in bulk, you may want to switch up those containers.   Any airtight container will work, like a glass container or even a zip lock bag if you’re not worried about bruising.  Anything that we harvest that does’t immediately go into a clamshell for sale, will go into a Rubbermade Fresh Vent Container that is specific for leafy greens.   There is a small filter on the lid that helps keep the condensation down which helps increase shelf life.  We find that these containers will keep the greens fresh almost twice as long as our plastic clamshell containers.  If you are serious about your greens, you may want to look into a specific storage like this.  We will put a link to the style containers we use at the end of this post.  With that said, there are a few things that you can do with your plastic clamshells to keep them as fresh as possible as well.

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The main thing that we want to avoid is moisture and condensation.   In order to keep condensation down, it’s important to keep a constant, cold temperature.  We advise you to keep your greens in the fridge where the temperature is most constant.  Don’t keep them by the fan blowing the cold air, and don’t leave them on the door if you tend to keep the fridge door open a long periods of time.  When the greens warm and cool, they will naturally condensate, so keeping cold and dry while avoiding freezing temperatures is a must.  One of the best places to keep them would be in one of the drawers or towards the middle of the fridge.   If you find some condensation on the lid when you open it up, don’t worry too much, just wipe it clean!  That will help add some time to your shelf life as well.

Another note to make, is don’t leave them out too long!  Grab what you want and get those greens back into the fridge!  If you’re leaving them out for a fun meal, or party, make sure they are staying chilled like the veggie tray.   If you’re storing on ice, make sure there is a barrier to keep them cool, but not freeze.  If they are in direct contact with the ice, they will freeze and turn to mush in no time!

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If you follow these steps, you will be giving yourself the best shot at a long shelf life…but let’s be honest, they shouldn’t stick around too long to go bad anyways.   And if you find yourself with lots of greens that you won’t be able to finish in time, go ahead and freeze them for an easy addition to your smoothies.  Micro-greens are just like lettuce, just a little more delicate.   If you treat them well, they will surprise you how long they will keep fresh!

 

(CLICK HERE to see the containers that we use at home for our personal use and greens storage)

Living Micro-greens by P.C.G.

IMG_0342As we come into spring, we are excited to get back outside and tidy up our gardens and back yards.   Soon the flowers will be in blossom and the humming birds will be buzzing from flower to flower.  But right now we are in-between seasons.  We have to keep our patience and not get started too early.   There is nothing worse than spending a ton of time in the garden and then the weather turns 3 weeks later as mother nature reminds you that gardening in Colorado is hard!

For the hardcore gardeners, this is the time for seed starting and getting a jump on the season indoors.  Others are making their lists and getting ready to hit up the local nursery to get their starts.  This is the perfect time to grow out some micro greens and scratch that green thumb itch!  Micro-greens grow fast and you can keep harvesting year round produce right from our countertop or kitchen table.   They don’t require lots of light so they do just fine on the countertop, but would also love to snuggle next to your garden starts as they grow.

IMG_0381We have lots of options when it comes to our living greens products.  During the summer farmers market season we have a wide variety of living greens ready to purchase and harvest.  We also take custom orders year round, and even will plant them in your own  pot if you have one in mind!  Most varieties are ready in 10-20 days so we ask for a 2 week minimum lead-time if you have a custom order that you want filled.  Our greens will come to you ready to harvest, which couldn’t be easier.   Just take a pair of scissors and trim at the base.   Some varieties like Pea Shoots, Wheat Grass and Chives you can get multiple harvests or even transplant into your own outdoor garden to grow out!

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Having a tray of micro-greens that you harvest directly into your meal is by far the freshest food that you can access…even fresher than the cooked food from your garden!  As you trim the greens you will have a full sensory experience.  If you trim the cilantro greens, your whole room will smell of fresh chopped cilantro.  The arugula smells of pepper in the air!  Trim directly into your meal and enjoy!  And enjoy the health benefits too!  When you trim and eat, there is no nutritional loss.  It’s the best way to enjoy the outstanding health benefits offered by these amazing tiny greens!

When you’re done with your greens, go ahead and compost the root mat.  It takes just a few weeks before its back to being potting soil and ready for planting again!  If you don’t have a compost setup don’t worry….just return it to us and we will compost the roots and re-use the planting container.  

Weather you’re looking to have a special center piece arrangement for your upcoming party or just want to have some fresh produce always at your fingertips, we can help!  Let us do the hard work and get your greens ready for harvesting then you can step in!

 

 

Microgreens and Smoothies…A Perfect Pair!

A few years back our family made a big push to incorporate more fruit into our diet. Our kids always like snacking on fruit, and due to our food allergies, we don’t have typical snack food in the house. The go to for them is almost always a banana or an apple…or two. We found that my wife and I weren’t eating enough fruit though. We always enjoyed smoothies, so we made the goal of eating one big smoothie each day.

IMG_0409After a while we discovered that microgreens mix perfectly in a smoothie. Their delicate texture and powerful taste blend well with all sorts of smoothie recipes. Their big nutritional value also boosts the vitamin and mineral content too!

Our go to smoothie base is 2 bananas, 1/2 lemon fresh squeezed, and roughly 12 oz filtered water. From there we typically add a cup or two of frozen fruit. Wild blueberries are always in the freezer so that’s what we use most often. If we want to mix things up we may add mango, strawberries or raspberries too. We also like to add an avocado if it’s more like a meal. Then come the greens. A little or a lot.  Its up to you, but we typically use  a heaping handful!

The mild varieties like Kale, Broccoli, Kohlrabi and Red Cabbage all mix well with fruit smoothies, much like spinach or full leaf kale. The Sunflower Shoots have a higher fat content which pairs well with the avocado for a creamier smoothie. The pea shoots really push the flavor with big pea taste. We shy away from the spicier varieties because the taste is so big, but if you want a smoothie with a kick, try arugula, mustard or wasabi!

IMG_1474Microgreens are fun to play with in the kitchen and know that no matter how you add them to your diet, you’re doing your body good! We all could use extra vitamins and minerals, and microgreens are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet! That’s why their really a perfect pair with fruit smoothie.

Oh, and if you have kids like ours, they love ice cream. Instead of using fresh peeled bananas, use frozen ones and instead of water just just a splash of coconut milk. Throw in the avocado, microgreens and berries and you’ll have a really nutritious ice cream snack. Go ahead and have an extra bowl! It’s good for you!

Proud to be Colorado Proud!

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If you live in Colorado, you have seen the Colorado Proud stickers around the grocery  store.  There are lots of great products that proudly display this sticker on their packaging.  When you see this sticker, you can be assured that it was produced within the State of Colorado.  We are excited to announce that our micro-greens  are now certified Colorado Proud and will be showing off this colorful logo soon!

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“Better for you, better for Colorado” is their motto.   Colorado Proud is a program within
the Department of Agriculture that was developed in 1999. The goal is to make it easier for the consumer to locate Colorado Food and Agriculture products, as well as raise awareness of the benefits of shopping local.

Shopping Local is trending right now, and for good reason.  Shopping local supports local small businesses.  And in this case, it supports local farms.   When you spend your dollar locally, it creates a stronger local economy and fosters a closer community.   Since there is less transporting and shipping local goods, the carbon footprint of locally produced food and goods are much more sustainable for the environment.  Colorado Proud also wants to keep Colorado Unique, stating that when you shop local you get better and more persoanlized customer service.   And in todays day and age, with all of the food recalls from massive farms and production facitlities, its better than ever to “Know Your Farmer” and shop locally.   When you support a large farm, your support is unlikely to be noticed by that large business.  But when you support a small local farm, you’re helping pay their mortgage or send their kids to college.   Think of that impact on the local economy.

img_0193In order to qualify to be Colorado Proud Certified, the product must be grown, raised or processed within Colorado.  All fresh produce must be grown in Colorado and livestock must be raised in Colorado.  All value added items must be made in a commercial kitchen in Colorado and procucers are encouraged to use Colorado grown products as well.  This means that our new cottage foods items will not be adorning these lovely stickers…but you bet we will be having them all over our micro-greens!

This is a wonderful program that really helps spotlight our local producers, and they have the stats to back that up.  When the program was launched in ’99, only 59% of respondents recognized the CO Proud logo.  In a recent poll, that awareness rose to 72%!  Additionally, they note that 90% of consumers polled would purchase products from Colorado if the option was available!

I encourage you to check out the Colorado Proud website HERE.  You can search for Colorado Proud Certified companies like ours, find local farmers markets, check out the colorado produce calendar, and browse some popular recipes.  There are also links to find more about Colorado Agriculture, Colorado Forest Products, and local Agritourism opportunities.  You can even search for a local winery!  A great source for all things Colorado Proud!