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: 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!

 

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!

 

 

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.

 

Microgreen Guacamole!

IMG_0942We have been talking a lot about the versatility of micro-greens in the kitchen.   Really the only thing you need to avoid is heat exposure, so they are really useful in the kitchen.  They go way beyond sandwich and salad toppers.  One of our favorite uses is to wow people with our homemade dips and sauces.  The fan favorite to date is by far the guacamole with our cilantro micro-greens!

Micro-greens are perfect to blend into any sauce, and in this case they smash well into some homemade guacamole.  The huge flavor in these small micro-greens really work well with guac because they are delicate enough to mix into the creamy avocados, but the flavor comes through with every bite!

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Here is what you will need to make this amazing dish:
– 2 Ripe Avocados
– 1 Lime – squeezed fresh
– 1/4 cup Diced Red Onion
– Garlic Powder – just a dash
– Onion Powder – Just a dash
– Salt – Just a dash
– Cilantro Micros – add to taste

Start with the avocados.  Find the most ripe ones and dice them into a bowl.  Then we add some diced red onion.  For the spices we add a dash of onion and garlic powder and salt to your taste.  Then squeeze 1 lime into the bowl and place the cilantro greens (with seed husk) on top and mix all of the ingredients together with a  fork.  We use lots of cilantro micros, but feel free to add as little or as much as you like.  It doesn’t take too long before the guac is creamy and ready to go to the fridge.  This would also be the time to add any other toppers you may enjoy like diced tomatoes or salsa.

Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and place in the fridge to cool.  After chilling, this guac is going to be ready for your toast, chips, tacos, or even to eat by the spoonful.  This simple guacamole is a game changer.  Be a party hero and bring some superfood guacamole to your next get together!IMG_0431

 

 

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?

 

Microgreens….not sprouts!

First off, lets just make it clear that I have no medical or nutritional training.  I am not a doctor and any advice given should be discussed with your healthcare professionals.  At the same time, these microgreens have changed my own family’s life and I don’t want misconceptions or misunderstandings get in the way from others thriving.

The reasons I lead off with that is because microgreens are popular these days.  I am oftentimes asked, “aren’t sprouts dangerous?” Or that, “sprouts are not good for pregnant moms…”. The answer is that sprouts can be dangerous.  They are frowned upon by the FDA during pregnancy.  Good news though….Microgreens are NOT sprouts!

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Sprouts are simply germinated seeds that are grown in water.  Many people have grown their own sprouts in mason jars.  The water is drained, seeds are rinsed, and water is refilled many times until the seeds have sprouted.  They are never planted and are sometimes sold in the same containers they are grown in.  Both the root and seed is consumed raw, but no leaf or actual greens because they are never planted.  Because of the water used during production, there is a large susceptibility for bacteria growth.  Over the years, this has given sprouts a negative image due to many health scares.

 

 

Microgreens on the other hand are grown in soil or another substrate that will allow the seed to grow into its first true leaf.  We use soil and water.  No nutrients or additives.  The greens are harvested when the first true leaf emerges.  At this point in the plants life, the colors are vibrant and the flavor is powerful.  Each variety has its own flavor and texture profile.   Some are crunchy while others are delicate.  Also, only the greens are harvested leaving the roots behind.  This really cuts down on the bacteria concerns.  Our product is closer to lettuce or mixed greens than sprouts.  All of these differences add up to a completely different product.

Microgreens are perfect for people of all ages.  Our dogs are even benefiting from the sunflower shoots.  They are too nutritious to be afraid of!