Tiny sprouts of vegetables and herbs, less than 14 days old known as “micro-greens” are finding their way into dishes salad and as a main course across the country and for great reasons. From humble beginnings as a garnish, micro greens are now being elevated to the status they deserve at the pinnacle of healthy foods.

According to research by the US Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland, these baby plants  contain 4 to 6 times the nutrients found in mature leaves of the same plant.  Astounding and miraculous when you think of it. As a plant emerges from it’s seed, and starts reaching for light, it’s at it’s most potent form.

gloryroadgreenhouse

Production of microgreens is a growing industry.  Many producers use hydroponic methods to create their tiny powerhouse plants.  The folks at Glory Road Gardens in Lutz Florida, use a sterile soil mix for theirs.  Their claim is that the sprouting plants just taste better than hydroponically grown micros.

On a recent tour of Glory Road, I was conducted through the colorful greenhouse by Partner Sue Larreau.  Actually, we grazed our way through tasting radish sprouts, beets, pea pods and sunflower.  It was amazing how much each sprout tasted like the vegetable it would eventually produce.  Radish greens had the spicy peppery taste of radish.  Beet sprouts tasted just like a beet.

As we paused by the sunflower trays i learned that this micro green belongs in the ultimate food source “super food” category. Consider that a sunflower seed has to pack enough energy to create a very tall robust plant.  The sprout has all of that energy packed inside it.  Glory Road Gardens website describes this:

Sprouted sunflower seeds produce impressive nutritional data. Imagine, a little sprouted sunflower seed contains enough nutrients to start a whole new plant growing, one that can reach 6- to 12-foot (1.8 to 3.7 m) heights. In the germination process, all nutrients, including enzymes and trace minerals, multiply 300 to 1200%.

One of the richest sources of protein, 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) of sprouted sunflower seeds contains 22.78 grams. The mineral content soars in the sprouted state. That 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) offers a notable 116 mg of calcium, 5.06 mg of zinc, 689 mg of potassium, 1.75 mg copper, and 354 mg of magnesium.

Vitamins increase during sprouting when the seeds are producing a new life. Vitamin A increases to 50,000 IU, and Vitamin E offers 52.18 mg, while Vitamin D provides 92.0 IU for 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams). The Vitamin B family offers niacin at 4.50 mg, riboflavin at 0.25 mg, and thiamin at 2.29 mg. Sprouted sunflower seeds are also a rich source of iron, providingsunflower microgreens 6.77 mg for 31/2 ounces (100 grams) that can be a benefit to people with anemia.

Mature sprouted sunflower seeds are a rich source of chlorophyll noted for cleansing or detoxifying the liver and the blood. Chlorophyll benefits many functions within the body including building blood supply, revitalizing tissue, calming inflammation, activating enzymes, and deodorizing the body. Most commercial breath fresheners contain chlorophyll.

Grabbing a handful of meaty sunflower microgreens out of a bag and stuffing  it into my mouth gave me a sense that my body was craving this green gift. Based on the facts above, perhaps it was and is.

Use microgreens as a garnish, in salads, or substitute them for anything you’d use lettuce for. One of my favorites is a BMT bacon micros and tomato sandwich.  I also used them in place of lettuce in a taco salad. It was fantastic. Glory Road says try them in smoothies.  Haven’t done that yet but it’s coming.