I use microgreens in many different ways.
I use them freshly cut and raw on sandwiches, and in salads, smoothies, peanut butter balls, and sushi and so much more.
I use them in soups, spaghetti sauce, snacks, pizza, and a hundred other ways, all added just at the end so they can be warm without losing nutrients. I also cook with microgreens. I add them to Chocolate Chip cookies, stirfry, eggs, and in casseroles among other recipes.
Does cooking microgreens destroy all their nutrients?
A question I am frequently asked is “Does heating microgreens destroy all the nutrients?” The answer is “No”. While there are some nutrients that are destroyed in the heating process, other nutrients are released and amplified. Vitamin C is destroyed with heat, while many anti-oxidants are increased. For some people, especially those with certain health conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), heating cruciferous microgreens can reduce certain nutrients that cause irritation while retaining those that are needed for optimal health.
“Comparing the healthfulness of raw and cooked food is complicated, and there is <still much> that is unknown surrounding how the different molecules in plants interact with the human body.” (1) says Rui Hai Liu, an associate professor of food science at Cornell University. While some nutrients are reduced, others are increased, and still others are changed to be easier to digest. What we do know is that consistent use of a variety of microgreens gives your body the best chance of absorbing enough micronutrients to protect and increase good health.
Microgreens are easier to digest
Not only are the nutrients in microgreens much more concentrated than in full-grown vegetables, but they are also in an easier-to-digest form because of the lack of starches. During germination, seeds produce specific enzymes to convert the starch in the seed to simpler molecules that can be quickly utilized by the baby plant. For example, an ounce of amaranth seeds has 16gr carbohydrates, while the microgreens from those seeds have 0 carbs because those starch molecules have been converted to energy for the baby plant. Exposure to light changes molecules in the growing plant to additional micronutrients. With all these nutrients, losing a few occasionally during the cooking process will not impact the good they do to your body.
How you cook does make a difference
Now, I need to clarify one thing here: the way we cook does make a difference in the end product. Steaming, boiling or baking is always going to give you a more nutritious product than deep frying. Lower heat is going to preserve more nutrients than high heat, and the shorter the cooking time, the fewer nutrients are changed. So, adding microgreens to your favorite deep-fried fritters may not be the best choice, while adding microgreens at the end of the cooking process on a pizza will retain more nutrients.
Are you confused? Here is the bottom line:
Here is the bottom line: microgreens are a very important part of a nutritious diet for optimal good health- especially in these days of mega-farmed produce that is consumed weeks after picking and is often transported from far away. Adding raw or cooked microgreens increases the number of micro-nutrients that you consume each day, giving your body the building blocks it needs to keep it strong and healthy. No matter how you use them, they will add nutrients to your diet.
No matter how you use them, microgreens are healthy
Consuming microgreens raw is an excellent choice. Adding them to cooked foods is also an excellent choice. Neither one is a ‘waste’ of nutrients, so feel free to experiment and find the ways that you and your family most like to use microgreens. Start where you are- add microgreens to the foods you already eat, and slowly add to your repertoire. There is no wrong way and adding microgreens will always produce a more nutritious meal than without microgreens
What do you think? Do you use microgreens exclusively raw, or do you also cook with them? Join the conversation in the comments!
(3) 31 Dec 1990, 53(1 Suppl):189S-193S