Find yourself hankering for a delicious salad and unable to have one because of the e.coli /romaine scare? Not to worry – there are nutritious and delicious alternatives.
I won’t pretend… I have a thing for sprouts and micro greens! Many of you have heard me extolling the virtues of “growing your own” and “countertop harvests” over the years. These tasty, nutrient packed little plants virtually eliminate time-to-table, are always in season, and an economical way to produce nutrient dense foods for yourself. Kids also love to do it, so they are a great way to get them into healthy foods.
There’s nothing wrong with clean romaine mind you… but whether romaine is in or out, you will love these tasty additions to your greens list.
What’s so great about sprouts and micro greens? What’s the difference between the two? Which is better?
To begin with, micro greens are tiny plants grown in soil, or some product to act as soil, and
harvested above the soil line when the plant has grown two distinct leaves – also known as the cotyledon stage.
They are packed with nutrition and when you eat them, you will not be ingesting any seed-casings/ husks. They are a favourite in restaurants who use them in smashing salads and beautiful garnishes in soups and so on.
Sprouts are grown without soil, sprouted after a period of soaking, with regular rinsing and draining cycles. They too are packed with nutrition – some estimates say as high as 20 times the nutrition of a full-grown plant! Although seed casings are floated off at harvest, usually many remain and are part of the crunch.
When sprouting, it is important to use clean materials and buy sprouting specific seeds that will not be exposed to fertilizers which carry a risk of e.coli, salmonella or listeria. Sprouts must be grown and handled properly to discourage the growth of mold and bacteria. Some agencies recommend cooking them to further protect yourself. People with compromised immunity should not consume raw sprouts.
Government guidelines are clear that they should be fully cooked. View their website here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-safety-fruits-vegetables/sprouts.html?wbdisable=true
While both sprouts and micro greens are incredibly nutrient dense foods, sprouting does tend to be easier, requires minimal space and the sprouting time is usually just a few days. Depending on the plant type, most sprouts are ready in 4 days or so. In most cases, rinsing is less than a 10 minute per day investment! The plant does the rest on its own. And, you don’t need a sunny window.
Micro greens are also very easy, but do require planting trays and soil, and usually are ready in a couple weeks, again depending on the plant type. They are considered the safer option when it comes to molds and bacteria and are certainly cleaner to harvest. Trays and growth medium are not expensive and stacking models make it easy to grow them in a relatively small space.
So, not into growing your own? Looking for even more options?
Consider a seaweed salad, cabbage or kale salad or tossing roasted vegetables with a favourite dressing and some toasted nuts.
Roasted Brussels sprouts and pomegranate aerials will look fabulous and be a tasty hit with my Tahini Dressing, or a side of yogurt!
If you want to learn more about sprouting and micro greens, watch for my periodic workshops or book a private session.