Can We Eat Healthier in Winter?
“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon”
– Doug Larson
Comfort Food in the Winter
We’ve had a chilly winter, even by Canadian standards! As the mercury drops, we have a tendency to reach for comfort foods. Looking at the bleak and frigid weather outside, all we want to do is curl up and be cozy! Your body and brain are demanding carbs and fat for warmth, and between the winter darkness and the freezing temperatures, it’s hard to say no to them.
In the winter, we always end up reaching for foods that make us happy quick. It’s unavoidable and not the end of the world, especially when teamed with a hit of extra-healthy nutrients to keep us feeling our best. Microgreens pack more nutrition per pound than any other food you could grow at home! They give you a much-needed energy boost, and their nutrients and vitamins will keep you and your family feeling healthy until spring.
Our Favourite Grow-At-Home Tricks
Microgreens are common garden plants grown normally but harvested before they’ve matured, so you won’t need to bother with any fancy seed mixes or designer names. Most varieties sprout in 2-5 days, so it doesn’t take long to start reaping the benefits of your microgreens.
The best results will come from common varieties that you’re already familiar with. Look for broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard, sunflower, cilantro, or chia. If you buy bulk packs and keep the extra seeds in the fridge, you can keep lots of homegrown treats handy, even on the coldest days.
All you’ll need is a container with some drainage. You could use an old container or even repurpose a milk carton.
Mason jars are a popular container for growing – their size and shape make them ideal environments for sprout growth. Avoid anything painted on the inside to keep your seeds and food clean. Add a few inches of soil and you’ll be ready to plant!
Sow your seeds thickly. The guideline is that the seeds should be one seeds’ width from each other. This shouldn’t be a complicated chore, simply sprinkle them on, making sure they don’t pile up anywhere. Cover your seeds with a layer of potting mix that is also the width of the seeds.
Water your improvised garden gently until it comes out the bottom. You’ll want to keep the soil evenly moist for a few weeks as your seeds sprout and grow a few inches. The best time to harvest is when your plants are a few inches high, so you can leave an inch at the bottom (you might even get another crop as a bonus).
There are so many choices for microgreens that there’s an option for every vitamin and nutrient. These little plants can pack up to 40x the nutritional value per pound than their mature plants. If you grow an assortment of varieties you’ll be able to get everything you need to feel healthier in the winter.
If you want Vitamins C, K, and E, some great options that taste great are red cabbage, garnet amaranth, daikon radishes or red radishes. Alfalfa and red wheat are also two of our favourites. Cilantro will give a boost of lutein and beta-carotene for eye and skin health. Arugula tastes delightfully peppery and has a generous serving of calcium. For expecting moms, the folate in chard helps keep pregnancies healthy. For growing microgreens with the kids, Mung Beans are a great choice as they’re easy to grow, and most kids like the taste of them as well.
But if you’re looking for a simple place to start, here at Oakridge Garden Centre, we carry West Coast Organic Sprouting seeds, 100 grams for $3.49, which is a super affordable option for this type of project.
Staying healthy this winter doesn’t have to be a chore. Instead of saying no to every craving for comfort food, try using microgreens to boost your health and immune system. Growing microgreens at home is easy – and a little spot of vibrant green sprouts at home can be quite the winter pick-me-up, as well.