It was a long time coming, but finally, Spring is here. It’s in our wardrobes (yep, it’s time for that pedicure), our work schedules (extra long patio lunch hour anyone?), and of course, it’s in our lunch bags. Spring to me embodies freshness. It means I get to take a long-awaited hiatus from hearty casseroles and stews, and shift over to healthy light fare! Which is particularly important with bikini season on the way!
Well, this month, I wanted to help you get excited about your Spring lunches, and maybe stir up a little lunch-room jealousy while you’re at it. So I made a B-line to McEwan’s exceptional selection of fresh artisanal microgreens for inspiration. And if the word “microgreens” automatically makes you think of a science experiment, than my Microgreen tutorial is for you!
Sprouts vs. Microgreens
It’s a common misconception that sprouts are the same thing as microgreens- but when you consider how they’re cultivated, you can easily spot the differences. Sprouts are simply germinated seeds that are produced entirely in a contained water environment with low light conditions. There isn’t actually any soil, planting, or sunlight involved. Unfortunately, the dark moist environments are a potential breeding ground for bacterial, which is why Health Canada suggests that people with compromised immune systems (i.e. children, elderly, pregnant women) avoid eating sprouts to be safe.
In contrast, microgreen seeds are planted in soil in an environment with ample light, low humidity and good air circulation. After about 7-14 days, the sprouts are harvested with a sharp knife, and the residual roots and soil are composted for another planting. These growing conditions are far less conducive to bacterial growth.
Microgreens are a guilt-free snack that are virtually free of fat and cholesterol, are low in carbohydrates and sodium, contain only 8-38 calories per cup and depending on the variety, are packed with Vitamin’s A, C, E, and K. What’s even more exciting is that early research is suggesting that microgreens can have up to 40 times the nutrients of their mature “big vegetable” counterparts. It just goes to show that even the littlest, cutest foods can be nutritional powerhouses!
How to Eat Microgreens
Like all vegetables, the flavours of microgreens can range from sweet to peppery to nutty to herbaceous, depending on the variety. And not only do they add distinctive pleasant flavour, but they also lend a satisfying light crunch. You can add microgreens to merely any salad, soup, sandwich, pita or wrap.
Check out Executive Chef Andrew Ellerby’s Roasted Garlic Steak Salad recipe.
So there you have it- some delicious and nutritious uses for microgreens that will help you power through to lunch hour in anticipation of what’s waiting in the fridge. I think these dainty greens are a great way to transition out of your comfort-food winter routine, and into something fresh, healthy and light. And considering that McEwan’s incredible selection of Canadian microgreens are available all year round, you might never want to transition back!
For more healthy eating tips and recipes, check out my website www.abbeyskitchen.com, follow me on twitter @AbbeysKitchen, and visit the McEwan blog regularly to catch my next post!
ABBEY SHARP, RD
OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN