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Sunflower Microgreens—Potent Packs of Protein

Naturally grown sunflower microgreens are amazing little plants. Microgreens are seed sprouts that are grown in a soil medium or hydroponically and harvested by cutting off the first starter leaves. These first tender embryonic leaves, or cotyledons, are packed with all the flavor, protein, vitamins, and nutrients of the original sunflower seed, and they’re green, crunchy, and tender.

Microgreens add zest to any salad. ((Yummly: Sunflower Sprout Salad Recipes)) Garnish microgreens on fried green tomatoes ((Edible Austin, Seasonal Plate, Summer 2009)), miso-glazed black cod ((SuperCharge! Foods)), mix them into hummus (( Sprouted Sunflower Seed Hummus)), or just snack on them throughout the day. Don’t forget to pack them into your next sandwich for an extra-healthy punch of flavor.

Tempo Bistro To Go
Microgreens spice up a sandwich (image source: Yelp)

Are they just good to eat, or can sunflower microgreens actually help you feel better? In 2010 LiveLiving Magazine published an article recommending sprouted sunflower seeds as a remedy for depression. “Sunflower seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan which activates serotonin production in the body. Serotonin is one of the body’s most important neurotransmitter. When released it allows the body to relax and gives the feeling of well being.” ((LiveLiving: The Tiny Sunflower Seed is BIG in Nutrition))

Sunflower Microgreens growing at Ragtime Ranch Family Farm
Our own Sunflower Microgreens growing at Ragtime Ranch Family Farm

A study conducted by The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the sprouted cotyledons of microgreens are more nutritious than mature leaves of the same plant. “Although small in size, microgreens can provide surprisingly intense flavors, vivid colors, and crisp textures and can be served as an edible garnish or a new salad ingredient.” ((Assessment of Vitamin and Carotenoid Concentrations of Emerging Food Products: Edible Microgreens
Zhenlei Xiao, Gene E. Lester, Yaguang Luo, and Qin Wang
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2012 60 (31), 7644-7651)) The study “ultimately discovered that the microgreens contained four to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts. ((Mighty Microgreens | University of Maryland College of Agriculture & Natural Resources))

Microgreens retain these amino acids and other nutrients after sprouting, and add the benefit of chlorophyl. Chlorophyll is high in magnesium, and is present in all green plants. The dark green color of sunflower microgreens is evidence of their high levels of chlorophyl. The more the better—darker color indicates more nutrient content. ((WebMD: Tiny Microgreens Packed With Nutrients))

Sunflower Microgreens in growing tray
A try of Sunflower Microgreens ready for harvest at Ragtime Ranch Family Farm

Can’t resist? Stop by our booth any Saturday in Elgin at the River Valley Farmer’s Market.