Crop Focus: Mustard Microgreens

7E5CC4A5-0FB6-4ACF-A1B5-5EB9BA2517E8When you need a little heat….reach for some mustard micro greens!   Mustard Greens are extremely potent and flavorful!  Don’t let the delicate texture and small stature fool you.  These guys bring the heat!

Tasting of horseradish or wasabi, a little can go a long way.  They are the most intensely flavored micro-green that we grow.  It looks a lot like Kale, or Broccoli, but if you accidentally grab a handful of mustard instead, you will know.  Their flavor anchors our spicy blend alongside Arugula and Radish.  Its an intense flavor but it finishes quickly.

We like to use our mustard micro-greens like hot sauce.  Baked potatoes, stir fry, pasta, or avocado toast are all perfect pairings.  If you eat eggs and fish, they are great to match with mustard micros.  The spice of these greens could also be blended into a salad dressing or tomato juice too!  Surprise everyone at your next brunch with a superfood micro green bloody mary!

All micro greens are great because they have a very high nutritional density and low calories.  According to Dr Axe, “they are a great source of fiber, which helps to regulate your digestive tract and lower high cholesterol levels”.  “They are also full of antioxidants which protect your body from free radical damage”.  Vitamins wise, they are high in K, A and C as well as folate.  Feeling sick?  Reach for some micro greens for their exceptional vitamin c content, which will boost your immune system!

It’s important to eat your micro-greens fresh and raw.  Add them to your meal after it has cooled and is ready to eat.  This will ensure that you get all of the nutritional content, no matter what you eat them with!   Give it a try.  Skip the hot sauce and reach for some micro-greens!

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: 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)

Support Local Businesses, Especially Local Agriculture

IMG_2361Today we vote each and every day.  But the vote that we cast is not in a ballot box.  We vote with our dollar and we cast our vote for what kind of community we want to engage and live in.  Most of the time we don’t think of this as voting.  Convenience has become a bigger value than the story behind the good or service.  Convenience is king.  Instead of supporting your locally owned coffee shop, its likely easier to hit up the drive through.  Instead of getting a CSA or visiting your local farmers market, it’s easier to hit up the local grocery store that has everything in one stop.  I get it.  Life is at a fast pace….but some things are really worth slowing down for.

Before children, my wife and I lived in the foothills of Denver.  We didn’t have a garden or grow anything for ourselves.  We didn’t notice how much we relied on big box grocers and really had no idea where our food was coming from.   We attended farmers markets a few times a year, but really relied on the convince of the grocery store and open all hours options.  We really missed something living there too.  We couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but something was missing.

IMG_0117When we moved to small town Salida, CO, everything about our consumption changed.   We were surrounded with small businesses and we engaged with the owners.  There are more small businesses than large retailers here and it totally shapes our community.  This is a lovely thing.  Small businesses supported by a small town!  We attended the farmers market every weekend, and got to know the farmers of our area for the first time.  After a couple of years, we decided to start our own farm and now we sell our produce at that same farmers market.  Now we know full circle what happens when you support local agriculture and local business.

IMG_2473Supporting local businesses makes for a stronger local economy.  The dollars earned by locals are spent locally.   This creates an amazing sense of community.   All of the small businesses in our town is exactly what makes our community so special.  We all support each other, and it’s noticed.  The atmosphere that brings so many visitors to our town is a direct result of the small businesses that create it!

When it comes to agriculture, when you support local farmers and ranchers you get fresher produce!  The food grown and raised locally is not transported long distances.   This helps with the carbon footprint and environment.  This also helps people get the nutrient dense food that they want….the freshest food possible.  Local farmers are more likely to grow heirloom and specialty crops which will increase food diversity.   Many of the best tasting foods don’t transport well, so the big box retails don’t carry it, and the large farms don’t grow it.  Then there is food safety.  With recalls all over the news, its more important than ever to know your farmer and how your food is being grown or raised.

IMG_2002When you support a local farmer, rancher, or small business owner, you investing in their family and therefore your local community.  Youre helping that farmer put their kids through college.  Youre helping that small business owner pay their mortgage or rent.  You’re helping that farm expand to bring more to the local market.  When you vote to spend money at the big box stores, your money leaves the local community.  It goes into the bank for a large corporation and is not noticed.  The big businesses look at the bottom line, not the community impact.   When you choose to shop local, every sale is noticed.  Every sale is a vote for a more vibrant and caring community.