Pea microgreens can be a nutritious and appealing addition to a child's diet for many reasons:
Nutrient-Rich:Pea microgreens are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. These nutrients are crucial for a child's growth and development, as they support overall health and immune function.
Protein Source: Pea microgreens are also a good source of plant-based protein, which is important for the development of muscles and tissues in growing children. They provide an excellent alternative to animal-based proteins, making them suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets.
Fiber Content: Speckled pea microgreens contain a healthy amount of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps regulate bowel movements. A diet rich in fiber can prevent constipation and promote a healthy gut, which is particularly important for kids.
Antioxidants: Pea microgreens are rich in antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and flavonoids. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and support overall health, including eye health and skin health in our growing children.
Iron: Iron is essential for children's cognitive development and energy production. Pea microgreens contain a reasonable amount of iron, which is crucial, especially for kids who may be at risk of iron deficiency.
Low Risk of Allergies: Pea microgreens are generally considered safe for most children and have a lower risk of allergies compared to some other foods. However, it's always a good idea to check for allergies or sensitivities before introducing any new food to a child's diet.
Easy and Appealing
Easy to Incorporate: Pea microgreens have a mild, slightly sweet flavor that most kids find appealing. They can be added to a variety of dishes, such as sandwiches, wraps, smoothies, and spaghetti, making it easy to include them in a child's diet without resistance.
Color and Texture: The vibrant green color and delicate texture of pea microgreens can make them visually appealing to kids, encouraging them to try new foods.
Educational Value: Growing pea microgreens at home is an educational and fun activity for kids. It teaches them about plant growth, gardening, and the importance of eating fresh, nutritious foods.
Environmental Benefits:Teaching kids about sustainable food choices early in life is essential. Pea microgreens are a sustainable choice as they can be grown at home indoors in small spaces, reducing the environmental impact associated with food production. Make your table your farm.
Foster a Love for Fresh, Healthy Foods
Incorporating pea microgreens into a child's diet can be a delicious and nutritious way to ensure they receive a variety of essential nutrients while also fostering a love for fresh, healthy foods. Remember, however, it's important to offer a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains to ensure optimal nutrition for growing children.
Have your children tried pea microgreens? What was their favorite way to eat them? Be sure to continue the conversation in the comments below!
Of 13,000 teenagers surveyed in 2017, only 2% ate the recommended amount of vegetables, and 7% ate enough fruit. Surprised? In 2021, the picture has worsened. Teenagers have sat steady at 2%, but in the past 15 years, children from the ages of 1-19 have dropped their fresh vegetable consumption by 50%. And adults? Don't get cocky just because you are older- 90% of adults don't eat enough vegetables.
Vegetable intake is low across all socio-economic levels and across all groups- including boys and girls, of all shades of skin.
Why don’t kids eat more vegetables?
The two most important reasons are that parents are not eating enough veggies (remember that 90% of adults not eating enough veggies), and veggies aren’t branded. There is a reason that food companies spend a lot of money on advertising their brand- it works. What was the last food you saw advertised? Most likely not microgreens or carrots. Advertising is powerful. It affects what we eat- and by extension, what we do not eat. When was the last time you saw fresh vegetables advertised? What do we need to do to counteract that lack of advertising and encourage the young people under our care to become one of the 2%?
To become one of the 2%, children must be exposed to plenty of fruits and vegetables early in life. "Exposure, and repeated exposure even after they reject a food, is important," says Angela Lemond, a registered dietitian, and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Just because they don't like a food once doesn't mean they won't tomorrow." As parents, not only do we need to model eating vegetables, we must not be quitters.
Including children in choosing not only the vegetables at the supermarket but choosing recipes to use them in helps them feel ownership in their meals.
But, the best way to encourage vegetable-loving children is to let them grow their own.
Now, I know what you are thinking- “I don’t have time or space to grow a garden and my kid won’t spend his summer working in the dirt”. A garden plot and weekends are not necessary to grow vegetables. You can do this!
Microgreens are tiny, tasty, nutritious veggies that are grown indoors in a space as small as a windowsill and are ready to harvest in 10 days. Because they are up to 40% more nutritious than full-grown veggies, children do not need to eat as much to get the micronutrients that they need for their growing bodies and minds. Plus, children as young as three can grow microgreens with 5 minutes a day of help. Microgreens can change a 98-percenter into one of the healthy 2%.
This is why I do what I do. Why I am building a resource for parents and families to grow, learn, and explore with microgreens. Because the health of a generation of children is at stake.
How To Involve Kids in Gardening
From a kid’s viewpoint, microgreens are the perfect garden.
No weeding, no digging, no endless wait before the harvest. Micro-gardening gives all the benefits of outdoor gardening- except for exercise and sunshine- but without the hassles, wait, and expense. Each child can grow their very own crops which develops a sense of individual accomplishment and self-confidence.
Gardening provides plenty of life lessons
Kids growing microgreens from seeds that they have carefully nurtured develop a sense of purpose, responsibility, patience, critical thinking skills, an awareness of healthy eating habits, and the connection between choice and consequence. For parents struggling to find ways to encourage their kids to eat a healthy and balanced diet, microgreens can be both a teaching tool and a solution to the problem of not liking ‘green things’.
Research involving children and gardening
“Results indicate that school gardening may affect children’s vegetable consumption, including improved recognition of, attitudes toward, preferences for, and willingness to taste vegetables. Gardening also increases the variety of vegetables eaten.” (1) According to multiple studies, gardening in a school, club, or home environment is not only fun for children and youth, but can encourage a life-long, positive change in eating habits.
How to involve your children and youth in growing microgreens
Give each child their own set of trays to provide a sense of ownership in the outcome. Planting and growing microgreens is easy enough that even young children can do most of the ‘work’ involved, even without supervision. Measuring the water and seeds is the most complicated part- and is a good exercise in being precise. Show each step, and then allow them to do it themselves. Microgreens are very forgiving as they grow and develop.
Make it a non-stressful activity for yourself and your child. Set up the learning area so that you are not concerned about a little water, soil, or seeds being spilled. A kitchen counter is an excellent choice- easy to clean with water easily available.
After you have grown the first crop of microgreens together, allow each person to choose which seeds to grow next. (2) Encourage children to grow many varieties as this also promotes confidence in tasting new vegetables. However, for those green-averse young people, make it ‘ok’ to grow a favorite type multiple times. The purpose is to encourage the eating of vegetables and each child has a different internal timeline for when they want to experiment with a new taste.
Keep the growing microgreens near where they play and work. Keep them in sight to encourage curiosity. Show curiosity as you watch the growing process with the child. Curiosity is contagious!
Make remembering to water an easy routine by attaching the task to something that is regularly done. Just before or after a meal or snack time, or anything else that is done on a regular, predictable basis. Make watering a time to also taste their crop each day, and to notice growth and changes. In short, make it fun – but quick.
Extend the learning
During the summer, if you have an outside garden area, encourage them to carefully pluck out one of each type of microgreen and grow it into a full-sized plant. All of the microgreens can be grown in pots, buckets, and other containers with potting mix. They can also be grown in most outdoor gardens with the appropriate climate. If you are not sure how to grow a plant to maturity, take the opportunity to encourage research and let the student teach YOU. Compare the taste, texture, smell, and time involved between the microgreen and the full-grown version.
When it is time to harvest, encourage the new gardener to make their own decision on what to do with their harvest. Put their tiny greens on a salad or taco? In a Sandwich or smoothie? How about using them in peanut butter balls, cookies, or other fun recipes? Encourage creativity!
Embrace failure as a learning experience. Failure happens to all of us, and when kids are growing microgreens, there will be opportunities to both succeed and fail! Learning from forgetting to water or over-watering, from dropping a tray on the ground or having a pet get into a project are all opportunities to discover that a setback is not 'the end of the world'. Discover the positive instead of focusing on the failure and it will become something they will be willing to try again.
Encourage sharing. Share not only the veggies with a family member or friend but share pictures of their work on a parent’s social media or by text to a friend or grandparent. Make a meal out of their crop and share the recipe or directions. For an additional space to share pictures, join The Microgreen Hub on Facebook.
Ratcliffe MM, Merrigan KA, Rogers BL, Goldberg JP. The Effects of School Garden Experiences on Middle School-Aged Students’ Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Associated With Vegetable Consumption. Health Promotion Practice. 2011;12(1):36-43. doi:10.1177/1524839909349182
I had a conversation with a young father some time back. He was concerned with his 10yo sons' lack of empathy. The young boy had difficulty showing remorse or understanding how others felt. his question was "How do you teach a child kindness and empathy?"
Learning the lessons of friendship, compassion, and empathy takes time, dedication, and patience. This is, however, one of the most important lessons you can instill in a child as they grow up. Both the family and the child's community will benefit for the rest of the child's life. The child will benefit even more as he learns to give and recognize how his actions affect those around him.
The way to feel happiness is to give service to others.
“Give,” said the little stream, “Give, oh! give, give, oh! give.” “Give,” said the little stream, As it hurried down the hill; “I’m small, I know, but wherever I go The fields grow greener still.”
Experiencing the joy of service
To develop empathy and kindness without thought of reward, a child must have opportunities to experience the joy that comes with service. This must be in both the form of example from those adults he loves and trusts as well as personal experience. Initially, the child must be led to think of others, given a chance to think about how another person feels and helped to develop the desire to give service.
Service can be as small as picking up something that someone else dropped and returning it with a smile. One parent can pull the child aside and ask "What do you think mother (or father) might like for us to do to help her/him?" and then help the child to accomplish the task. The aftermath of that small service is important as well.
When a child is praised and a 'big deal' is made about the act of service, it becomes less an act of kindness and service and turns into an attention-seeking moment. This results in a child doing the right thing for the wrong reason- in order to get attention for himself instead of doing something to make another feel good.
Say "Thank you".
Better for the receiver of the service to say a heartfelt "Thank you", and a brief sentence about how it made them feel: "Thank you for doing that for me! It made me feel loved!". A quick hug and then back to business. In this way, the child sees the response to his small act of service and learns how his actions affect another person. Do this on a daily basis and the child will begin to look for opportunities himself.
What is the best way to teach?
Children learn best by example followed by instruction. A child watching his mother and father do quiet, small acts of service for others on a regular basis, and seeing the understated satisfaction it brings will be more apt to transition to a young person and then an adult who looks out for others.
Here are a few ideas to start a family's journey to compassion, kindness, and empathy:
One parent takes a child to the store and the parent asks what small thing the child thinks the other parent (or some other person in the child's life) might like. Then, talk about that choice- why does he think it might be a good gift? How does he think the receiver will use it? If the item is inappropriate (such as a toy that the child himself wants) talk about other options and continue the process. The idea is to prompt the child to use empathy to make a choice rather than consider his own wants and needs.
Talk about the feelings of others and give the feelings names. If a child sees a child is angry because her toy was taken away, give him words to describe it: Instead of "She feels bad", help him to say "She feels angry about losing her toy". Teach the feeling and the reason.
When reading books together, ask the child what the person in the story might be feeling and why. This is very effective with picture books.
Draw pictures together with uplifting captions, pick or buy small flowers, and take them to a rest home or hospital to distribute. Speak with the child frequently about how the receiver felt and why. Don't 'celebrate' afterward as that turns it from an act of service to being rewarded for doing something 'nice'. Allow the feelings of another person's happiness to be the reward.