In 2011, just one year after I started a community schoolyard garden, growing all sorts of herbs, vegetables, and microgreens, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Looking back, the timing was impeccable. Learning to grow and control a portion of my own food supply would be an integral part of thriving with a food allergy. I know the food I grow is safe for me to eat. It is satisfying to walk into my yard, pick a squash from my garden, and hours later eat it for dinner, worry free. No trip to the store or playing nerve-wracking 20 questions with the server at a restaurant.
As a nutritional health coach, I am often asked, “What is one thing I can add to my diet to be healthier?” My answer is always the same, “Eat more dark leafy greens!” That is the number one food missing from most people’s diet today. One of the most simple ways to get started adding more greens is to grow them yourself at home in your kitchen! I love growing microgreens because it is easy, fresh, safe and ready to eat within seven to ten days. Plus it is fun to watch them come to life right before my eyes.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are the edible seedlings (young plants) of vegetables and herbs. They are full of vitamins and nutrients. These seedlings, with their tiny leaves, have up to five times the nutrition as their grown-up version. Some common microgreens are red cabbage, cilantro, radishes, and beets. Microgreens are grown in soil, not to be confused with sprouts, which are grown in water.
*As a side note, alfalfa sprouts, specifically, contain a compound called canavanine that can cause sensitivities in people with autoimmune disorders. Best to avoid alfalfa sprouts if you have celiac disease.
DIY Grow @ Home
If you want to do it yourself, all you need is a container, soil, water and seeds. I usually try to recycle items I already have at home. For example, I like to use the paper lid from an egg carton for my growing container. You may need to buy soil and seeds if you don’t have them already. Choosing a vegetable seed mix is easier than separate seed packets. First, I add between a ½ inch to an inch of potting soil to my growing container. Next, I sprinkle seeds on the soil, generously, not in rows or with any kind of pattern. Lastly, I water using a tablespoon, so I don’t accidently over-water and wash my seeds away. I water until the seeds and soil are covered, but not drenched. You could also fill a water bottle and spray the seeds to keep them damp each day. You can cover your container with a plastic wrap or leave it open. The plastic cover helps keep the moisture in. And in just three days, you will start to see the seeds sprouting.
Caring for your microgreens is easier than taking care of a goldfish. They grow fast and need very little attention. For a smaller container, you may only need to add a tablespoon of water for the first couple days. If you use a spray bottle, it is even easier to control the watering. When you notice the soil is dry, add water. A windowsill in the kitchen is the best place to grow your greens. My favorite part about growing microgreens is the ability to grow them all year long. As long as you have a sunny windowsill, you are in business.
Harvest and Eat!
Harvesting your microgreens is also easy. Just take a pair of scissors and cut off what you need! I usually sprinkle my microgreens over my eggs or roasted vegetables. They turn my seemingly regular meal into a special occasion. I also like to add them to a wrap, a sandwich, a smoothie, or mix them into a green salad for extra flavor. Anywhere lettuce goes, microgreens tag-along or become a great substitute.
Greenie Genie Salad with Grilled Chicken or Black Beans
- 1 cup Broccoli chopped
- 1 large handful Microgreens (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 Green apple sliced
- 1/2 Avocado
- 4-5 Walnut halves (optional)
- 1 tbsp Avocado oil
- 1 tbsp Green tea decaffeinated
- 1 tsp Lime juice freshly squeezed
- Salt to taste
- In a serving bowl, toss together the broccoli, greens, apple, avocado, and walnuts.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients and pour the dressing mixture over the salad.
- Warm up leftover sliced grilled chicken or black beans, and toss with the salad.