Throughout winter we cook a lot of our food, especially our vegetables, but as we open the door to Spring we naturally crave putting in fresh, vibrant greens again and microgreens, sprouts and pea shoots are an easy and perfect way to do that. These mini greens pack a major punch when it comes to nutrition and contain even more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols than when they reach full maturation.
Microgreens are made from greens that have been harvested before maturation, just seven to 14 days after germination. The result is a much smaller green, compared to their full-sized vegetable, typically between one to three inches tall, with a more intense flavor and highly concentrated nutrient profile. You can find and try a variety of sources of microgreens: mustard greens, purple cabbage, mizuna, chive, radish, beet, kale, arugula and sunflower.
Microgreens are loaded with antioxidants, and contain a wider variety of polyphenols than their mature vegetable counterparts. Polyphenols help prevent the buildup of harmful free radicals, which are highly reactive compounds that form in the body and can cause damage to cells as well as contribute to chronic disease.
Pea shoots are a great source of folate, antioxidants and carotene. Folate helps produce and maintain cells and protects against DNA damage. Antioxidants help the body fight free radical damage, commonly associated with high cancer risk. Carotenes help inhibit antioxidant activity and are commonly associated with increased cancer prevention.
One cup of pea shoots has seven times as much vitamin C as blueberries and four times as much vitamin A as tomatoes. They are also an excellent source of vitamin K. Pea shoots are dense with the antioxidants and phytonutrients needed to reduce inflammation and support overall health.
Sprouts (alfalfa, clover, garlic, onion and broccoli) come from germinated seeds and are high in vitamins (especially Vitamin C and K), minerals and enzymes making them a live, easy-to-digest, energetic food. They have been tied to slowing the aging process, preventing cancer, improving osteoporosis, diabetes, high cholesterol and menopause symptoms.
You can find Organic sprouts and pea shoots at many grocery stores. Microgreens are available at Farmers Markets and health food stores. My favorite place to purchase organic and local microgreens, pea shoots and sprouts is at Community Natural Foods. They have a great variety!
Incorporating these mini greens into your Spring lifestyle is so easy!
· Add them to salads to increase color, vibrancy and nutrients
· Make a mini greens salad with all of them
· Make a bed of them on your plate and put your eggs over top
· Grab some right from the box to freshen your mouth or as a quick addition to any protein
· Put them in Nori or lettuce wraps
· Pile them on top of burger or sausage patties
· Throw them into smoothies
Adding microgreens, sprouts and pea shoots to your diet is an amazing way to support your liver and overall health and to get a good dose of potent nutrient dense vegetables on your plate. Not to mention they will make your food look beautiful and vibrant. What could be better than that?! Enjoy!