23 July, 2020
Being healthy has a lot to do with eating healthy, and eating healthy is not a tough task if one is mindful about it. Ensuring a balanced diet based on fruits, vegetables, pulses, cereals, dairy product,s and non-vegetarian food is not too difficult. We also have sprouts that which we can easily make at home. One of the healthy aspects of our diet happens to be the greens. In India, we are lucky that we have access to a wide variety of greens across the year. Palak, methi, sarson ka saag, dill leaves, coriander and pudina leaves, radish leaves, amaranth, drumstick leaves, colocasia leaves, and a lot more in the various regions.
There is another set of greens that you can have easy access to known as microgreens. These can be easily grown in your house without any trouble. But, though small as the name suggests, these pack a great punch in terms of health benefits. Perhaps, some of us may have known about wheatgrass and its health benefits; that is also a microgreen.
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are small green plants (around 1-3 inches length) that are grown using a wide variety of seeds. They are nothing but baby plants, that are in the next stage of the sprouts, and have not yet grown into plants. They are thin, have leaves, and are usually within the first 21 days of germination. These are consumed in salads, or blended into juices, or can be sautéed into some stir-fries, or even sprinkled as a topping on some dish. Any good seed can be used to grow the microgreens; usually, cauliflower, radish, broccoli, lettuce, dill, carrot, fennel, celery, garlic, onion, amaranth, spinach, and even cucumber and melons are grown.
How do you grow them?
All you need is a small container and some soil.compost/cocopeat to grow these microgreens. A simple plastic tray, an old box, discarded plastic containers of fruits, etc. can be put to good use. But, they do need sunlight; Hence, you could put them on window sills where sunlight is assured. Once you fill the container, water it lightly and sprinkle the seeds in it, slightly evenly, so the greens have space to germinate and grow. You may cover it with a plastic sheet for the initial few days, and the germination can happen within the moist sheet.
However, you would then need to expose it to the sunlight for further germination. Water lightly, once a day, and once they grow a few inches tall (around 7-10 days), you could harvest your greens and use them as per your wish.
This trend of microgreens was started by a Californian restaurant in the 1980s, touted as a healthy food. However, since then, there has been good scientific evidence that suggests that this is indeed a good addition to your diet. It is highly nutritious, with most containing Potassium, Zinc, Iron, Copper, and Magnesium as well. They are also loaded with antioxidants that help our body fight the free radicals that cause a lot of diseases. The nutrition levels in these are said to be higher than of the usual fully-grown greens, though the result varied in a few species like amaranth.
The polyphenols in microgreens are said to help reduce heart diseases by lowering the LDL (bad cholesterol) in the body. The same polyphenols are also helpful in keeping Alzheimer’s disease away. Few of these microgreens have been seen to enhance cellular sugar intake, thus helping with diabetes. Also, high amounts of antioxidants, as we know, help fight off and prevent many types of cancer.
Typically, when you purchase sprouts or microgreens, there are chances of food poisoning due to the bacteria growth potential. But you could easily grow these at home, and they are fully safe to eat, without any side effects. A cost-effective way of growing healthy food, and yet when you look at the benefits, there is nothing micro about it. So, grow your microgreens and build the much-needed immunity in these stressful times.
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