How to get nutrients into your fussy eater... enter the mighty microgreen

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“Microgreens are nutrient heaven for fussy eaters and their caregivers,’’ says Katherine Megaw
“Microgreens are nutrient heaven for fussy eaters and their caregivers,’’ says Katherine Megaw

For years microgreens have been used as a garnish at up-market restaurants, but today they are being recognised as a superfood with up to 40% higher concentrations of nutrients than older plants.

In a recent study, researchers at the US Department of Agriculture Research Service discovered nearly all varieties of microgreens tested had four to six times more phytochemicals and vitamins than mature leaves from the same plant.

“Microgreens are nutrient heaven for fussy eaters and their caregivers,’’ says Katherine Megaw, clinical paediatric dietitian and advisor to Nutripaeds.

"They take hiding veggies to a whole new level. Most microgreens are mild in flavour and hardly have an aroma, which also makes them excellent for a fussy eater with sensory issues,’’ she adds.

Besides the micro size, these miracle foods have nine times the nutritional value than their full-grown counterparts. "This is because all the nutrients the plant requires to produce a lifetime of fruit and vegetable is contained in the first shoot,” comments local producer Shaun Miller from Urban Micro Greens.

But microgreens should not be confused with sprouts that are the shoots of legumes, lentils, chickpeas and beans, he cautions. Neither should baby leaves be mistaken for microgreens.

“As soon as a shoot starts growing the leaves for that particular plant, it starts to deplete it of nutrients. These first leaves are called baby leaves, and while it is also considered nutritious, it’s not as highly concentrated as a microgreen.

"The leaves you see on microgreens will always be two leaves opposite each other – these are the cotyledons, embryonic leaves that appear first from a germinating seed. The first actual leaves of the plant will look nothing like the cotyledons you see on true microgreens.”


How do you outsmart your picky eater? Tell us your top tips by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.  

Some common microgreens available include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, radish, lettuce, endive and chicory, dill, carrot, fennel and celery and garlic, onion and leek, Swiss chard, spinach and beetroot, melons, cucumber and squash.

Here Megaw shares some practical examples of how to fool your fussy eater:

Carrot crunch 

We all know that carrots are great for cellular immunity, so packing in a few carrot microgreens into any of your favourite dishes will add some extra beta-carotene (eye nutrient) to your child’s diet.

Recipe tip

Add carrot, onion and garlic microgreens to mac and cheese or sprinkle microgreens over a tomato-base margarita pizza for a great nutrient-enhancing dish.

Brilliant broccoli

Broccoli is definitely top of the list when it comes to nutrient choices for your little one. Along with spinach and beetroot microgreens, you will cover some essential vitamins and anti-oxidants that will give your little one's immune system a huge boost during virus season. 

Recipe tip

Spaghetti bolognese is a wonderful toddler dish to add these microgreens to. Once cooked, simply add blended microgreen broccoli and microgreen spinach greens to the dish. Green leafy veggies contain excellent non-heme iron, which is a gentle and non-constipating iron. Microgreens from green veggies like spinach and Swiss chard contain nine times the quantity.

Super smoothies

Another way of outsmarting your little one is by blending some neutral-flavoured microgreens like endive, celery and cauliflower in a banana smoothie. This will go a long way to boosting the nutrients and mimic the colour of cream soda without changing the flavour.  

"In order to maintain their nutritional value, microgreens cannot be cooked, they need to be added raw,’’ explains Miller.

Some of the vitamins and minerals found in high concentration levels in microgreens are vitamins C, K and E, lutein, beta-carotene, phenols and polyphenols, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and folic acid.

How do you outsmart your picky eater? Tell us your top tips by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.  

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