Friday, July 10, 2015

Napa Cabbage and Arugula Salad with Microgreens and Berries

What's all this talk about microgreens? 

Napa Cabbage and Arugula Salad with Microgreens and Berries
My latest growing endeavor is happening inside. Microgreens and baby greens are becoming my favorite garden products because they are so easy and fast to grow, taste great and are packed with nutrients. We've been eating them on salads all week.

This salad is loaded with all the good nutrients that come from our favorite cruciferous vegetables, and no empty calories. Napa cabbage replaces lettuce as the foundation, and then it is piled high with broccoli microgreens, baby arugula, raspberries, blackberries and sunflower seeds  It doesn't really constitute a recipe, just use as much as you want of each ingredient.

I am a blue cheese fanatic, so I went with a little dollop of creamy dressing, but you might choose a healthier vinaigrette or just a drizzle of olive oil with some lemon.

The microgreens and baby arugula may not be easy to find in the grocery store. If you do get lucky and find them  be prepared to pay dearly. If you skip buying the greens and invest in some sprouting seeds instead, you will save yourself a boatload of money. Micro and baby greens can be grown indoors all year long, so you can always have a fresh supply of whatever you want.. You get all the benefits of fresh, healthy greens with none of the cost.

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Copyright 2015, Julie McMurchie. All rights reserved. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I Went to the Grocery Store and It Made Me Mad!

Healthy food should never be a luxury.
Healthy food should never be a luxury.
I don't go to the grocery store. Last week was probably the first time in 6 months that I stepped foot in a grocery store. I don't go because they infuriate me. The price of food, the sad state of the food available, the garbage I see people spend their money on. It makes me want to send people to nutrition camp and give them a free side course in finance. These are the reasons why my husband shops and I don't.

This is not a rant post. Because the rant is over. Despite the anger and frustration I felt, the dreaded bi-annual trip to the market motivated me to get up, speak out and maybe make a difference in a life or two.

Good, healthy food does not have to be expensive. Low to moderate income families do not have to resort to sugar cereal and crap to keep food on the table. The problem is not merely that healthy food is too expensive. It is not as simple as that. There is a multitude of reasons why people eat junk. Affordability is only one of them. I believe the answers lie in social conditioning, lack of knowledge, inability to cook and laziness.

You might disagree and argue that people can't afford good-for-them food. Bull. I will argue that point with you all day long. People don't know how to cook, don't know how or are unwilling to change and convince themselves that ramen noodles and hotdogs are the best they can do. Easy, greasy and cheap. That satisfies the cravings that junk foods create. The more you eat it, the more you crave it, which leads to more junk-eating, more health problems and a very unhealthy, unfit population.

So why is a garden girl getting so worked up about this? Because I lived that low-income, struggle-to-keep-food-on-the-table life. I know firsthand what it means to not eat so your kids can.  I know that providing healthy food on a very limited budget is hard. But it isn't impossible. You can do it. I did. I had to learn how to do it; so can you.

Living that hard life is one of the biggest reasons I learned how to grow food, cook healthy meals and provide the best I could for my family. People may see me now and think I have no idea what it is like to struggle. Yeah. I do. I know all about it. I lived it. Now I can take what I have learned and help you make the most of what you have. That is the purpose for what I do.

It has taken me some time to be able to verbalize all of this in what I hope is a way that makes sense. I have been taking a long, hard look at what I do and why I do it for several days now. To finally be able to put it in words and put it out there is a good thing. Because now, maybe it will make more sense why I am so adamant about making food and growing food accessible and doable for all people. Healthy food should never be a luxury. I hope that my story encourages you to take a look at your life, your foods, your family and maybe move you to make some healthy changes.

Thanks for reading,

Happy growing and healthy eating,


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Madly in Love With Microgreens

Broccoli microgreens
Broccoli microgreens are ready to harvest in about 10 days.
I need to grow stuff. I love starting seeds, growing food, eating food and I am really getting to the point that I don't so much love gardening anymore, especially in the summer months. Ah, but all is not lost. Enter the microgarden where  the growing is easy. And fast. And inside. Microgreens are making me a happy grower.

I am not going to preach the health benefits of microgreens because the jury is still out on whether they are the magic, nutritional bullet some people are claiming. There have been studies that suggest some micros pack a nutrient punch as much as 40 times stronger than their mature counterparts, but these studies are few and far between..There is a significant lack of research because microgreens are relatively new to the retail market. The research just hasn't been done and the nutrient data is not there...yet.

radish microgreens
Fast-growing radish microgreens, growing here with
wasabi arugula and mustard taste just like a radish. 
None of this means that I don't wholeheartedly recommend eating and growing microgreens. Plant food is good for you and these tiny little plants happen to taste really good. There are certainly nutritional benefits that come with eating greens and so we will leave it at that. Microgreens are a wonderfully tasty way to add more green to your daily diet. With so many varieties to choose from with flavor profiles, from sweet or nutty to hot and spicy, there is something to satisfy your particular palate or complement a favorite recipe.

Back to my infatuation/love affair with microgreens. I love greens, particularly fresh, crunchy, raw greens. Sauteed greens are good and have their place, but serve me a salad with some serious flavor and I'll be your friend forever. Microgreens fit the bill when it comes to flavor and texture. The tiny little plantlings are just crunchy enough without being annoying or too much work to enjoy.  Some are milder in flavor than the mature variety, some are stronger in flavor. Some are things that most of us would eat only in the early stages of plant life if ever at all, like sunflower greens. Honestly, how often have you picked a huge sunflower leaf and popped into your mouth? But the tiny, new suflower plant is delicious and full of nutrients. 

How do you eat microgreens?

alfalfa microgreens
Alfalfa microgreens are delicious as a salad topper
and instead of lettuce on a sandwich. 
Salads and sandwiches are probably the most common way to enjoy them, but they can also top a pizza, flavor a soup, dress up an entree and even spice up a dessert. And don't forget the smoothies. Who wouldn't love the versatility and variety?

Flavor and texture accounted for, let us move on to just how fast and easy they grow. Five days to 2 weeks and most microgreens are ready to harvest. Yes, it really is that quick and simple to grow greens indoors. I won't bore you with the details as to why these things grow so fast compared to the same seeds you plant outside in a garden, but they do. While you are still waiting for the seeds in your garden to sprout, the microgreens growing in your windowsill are just about ready to eat. Fast and easy. That works for me. Did I mention how easy they are to grow?

So why not give them a try? Grow your daily greens in the comfort and coolness of your home. Gardening has never been this easy.

Happy (micro)gardening,


Shop for sprouting and microgreen seeds. (You actually use sprouting seeds for growing microgreens - and you can use the same seeds in the garden.)

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Copyright 2015, Julie McMurchie. All rights reserved.

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