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.
What Is a Serving Size of Microgreens
What is considered a serving of microgreens?
One hand- one serving of microgreens. As you see from the charts below, the amount that is considered a serving depends on the person’s age. Knowing that microgreens have on average 10 times (and up to 40 times) the nutrients in full-grown vegetables, we need to know what a serving size is.
The good news is, it’s easy to convert serving sizes- the size of the hand determines the size of the serving. A 3-year-old will have six servings of microgreens that are easily held in their hand. A teenager or an adult, the same thing. With their bigger hands, it is still 6 handfuls per day- if microgreens are the only vegetable eaten.
Note that one of the most important points about eating vegetables (right after ‘just eat them’!) is to eat a variety. A variety of microgreens, and a variety of types of vegetables.
More information on serving sizes and the importance of eating vegetables
To have the best health, we need to eat vegetables. There are over 10,000 phytochemical that have been identified in the vegetables that we eat, and many more that are as yet unknown. A handful of broccoli microgreens has thousands of phytochemicals (1), many of which are vital to the health of our bodies. Phytochemicals (nutrients) do not come from any other source- we cannot get them from pills, potato chips, or wishful thinking. If we don’t eat vegetables, our bodies lack important nutrients.
98% of kids and 90% of adults do not eat enough vegetables.
Why don’t kids eat vegetables?
Parents don’t like vegetables so they don’t serve them to their kids.
Taste buds have become accustomed to the high salt, sugar and fat content of processed foods, so plain vegetables don’t taste good or just don’t satisfy.
The texture of vegetables, particularly cooked vegetables, is not appealing.
A lack of knowledge about the quantity and type of vegetables needed.
It’s easier to grab and prepare processed food.
There are other reasons, but no matter what the reason, they don’t outweigh the need our bodies have for the nutrients in vegetables.
How much full-grown vegetables do we need on a daily basis?
The average adult needs between 2-3 cups of vegetables a day, and kids need between ¾ -3 cups, depending on age and gender. How do we go from eating no vegetables to eating sufficient quantities a day? We start.
Let’s define a cup of vegetables
1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables,
1 cup of 100% vegetable juice, or
2 cups of loose, raw leafy greens.
Define a serving of vegetables
For a one-year-old child that needs ¾ cup of vegetables per day, a serving size may be as small as a tablespoon, with 6 servings throughout the day.
For an older child that requires 1 ½ cups of vegetables per day, a serving size is ¼ cup with again, 6 servings per day.
An adult serving size is generally six servings of ½ cup. For many people, that is an overwhelming amount of vegetables to eat each day. There is a solution.
Microgreens to the rescue!
Instead of cups of broccoli or big salads, add handfuls of microgreens to everyday foods. Add to soups, sandwiches, burritos, spaghetti sauce- even ramen noodles if that is what you normally eat. One-tenth of a cup is about 1.5 tablespoons. So, for every cup of needed vegetables, substitute 1-2 tablespoons of chopped microgreens.
Sample Plan for Slowly Adding Vegetables To the Menu
Make a plan, and Just Start.
A little knowledge is necessary to eat properly. However, knowing that broccoli is good for you and doughnuts are not so healthy doesn't take a degree in nutrition- just the desire to increase our opportunity to have healthier bodies and minds.
What tricks have you discovered to add microgreens or other vegetables to your diet? Share your advice in the comments, below!
Microgreens and Relieving Stress
Who has not experienced stress this year? I don’t see any hands being raised…
Bringing nature into our homes
Did you know that simply viewing a green space can promote relaxation and reduce stress levels? There have been numerous studies showing the benefits of gardening and growing one’s own food. Microgreens are an important part of horticulture therapy- easy and enjoyable to grow, with a variety of positive outcomes.
Enjoying a green space can help to overcome stress and fatigue and help reduce feelings of anger, frustration, and aggression. Research has shown that just looking at a green space can lower blood pressure and help a person focus and be more productive. While we are not all lucky enough to have an outdoor space and the right weather to grow a garden, we can create our own mini green space inside our home. Microgreens are especially useful in developing an indoor green space.
Houseplants vs Microgreens
Unlike houseplants, your microgreen space will change frequently as you grow different varieties, giving fresh interest both to your green space and to your meals. An added benefit is that when you need a break from gardening, simply harvest what is there and refrain from planting for a few days or as long as necessary. As soon as you are ready to renew your green space, begin another planting cycle.
The speed of growth from seed to harvest is an important aspect of stress-reduction. When planting a traditional garden outside, the time to harvest is from 21 to 120 days or more. Very little changes day to day other than the new crop of weeds. With microgreens, the time from planting to harvest is 10-14 days for most varieties. Each day, you will see an interesting change in your micro garden- and just the act of looking forward to seeing the next day’s growth helps to reduce stress.
Microgreens are full of stress-reducing nutrients
The crops fresh from your micro-garden are the tastiest and most nutritious food you can get. Good nutrition is one powerful stress-reducing tool. Along with exercise, eating a diet rich in micronutrients is the best way to not only boost our immunity but to heal the damage caused by unrelenting stress. Microgreens contain vitamins and minerals like potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, and many vitamins including A, E, and C. In addition, microgreens are a great source of antioxidants. Each of these works to neutralize harmful molecules produced when your body is under stress.
Stress hits all ages, from children to the elderly
Stress in small amounts can be healthy and productive, but when it becomes overwhelming and constant it affects us both physically and emotionally. If you, your children, or others around you are experiencing overwhelming stress that affects sleep, eating, relationships, mental state, or physical state, I urge you to seek help from your doctor. Do what you can, like building green spaces around you and exercising to reduce the stress, but never be afraid or hesitant to ask for help.
For further reading:
Impact of the activity of gardening and food growing: Eriksson et al., 2011and Sahlin et al., 2014
Ulrich, R. S. (1984) View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science 224, 420-421.
Ulrich, R. S. (1999) Effects of gardens on health outcomes: theory and research. In: Cooper Marcus C. and Barnes M. (1999). Healing gardens: therapeutic benefits and design recommendations. John Wiley & Sons, New York, USA. pp 27-86.
Kaplan, R. (2001) The Nature of the View from Home Psychological Benefits. Environment and Behaviour, 33(4), 507-542