News | 29 November 2022
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How to use microgreens at home

In Behind the Stalls, we have gone behind the scenes with some of the vibrant characters of Wellington waterfront’s Harbourside Market as they show us how to make their most popular products. In the second of six stories, we meet Benjamin Peni of Valley Greens and learn how to incorporate microgreens into our daily diet.

Person standing in a greenhouse holding microgreens.

Having a career in health and nutrition has been a 15-year-long dream for Ben. 

It all started when he stumbled across a video about gardening and microgreens when he was younger, and this sparked a love for sustainable living that continued to grow over the years.

When he was thrown into lockdown with his five kids, he took the opportunity to focus on providing home-grown food for his family and making sure they were getting the right nutrition in their diet.

“They can eat things like pizza and I’ll still be calm about what they eat. They always put microgreens on top, and that gives them all the nutrition they need," says Ben.

Trays of microgreens.

Microgreens are known as a super food and are a very young version of the vegetables and herbs that people eat every day. They have the most nutrients when they are cut directly from the plant and eaten fresh, Ben says.

“Eating them reshapes your microbiome, which is the microbiology living inside your gut. I used to have a stomach ulcer for years, but since I’ve been eating microgreens daily and across most of my meals, I don’t get that pain anymore. They give me a lot of energy.”

Though microgreens have been available for a while, people often don’t know what they do or how to use them.

Set up for Microgreens.

Ben’s goal is to help people learn how to add microgreens into their diet in a way that will impact their lives for the better, in the same way he cares about his family.

“I really want to help people with their health. I want to teach them how to make the most of their food, the same way I’m trying to teach my kids. Nutrition can be really confusing for people to learn, so we want to make it as accessible as possible,” he says.

It hasn’t always been a steady journey for Ben – he had to really teach himself how to grow the best products. 

“There were times when I was growing so much and throwing away 60 percent of it. That was just from working out the conditions and how to look after them.”

Now, he likes to think he has green thumbs.

“I don’t label any of my microgreens because we need to know what type they are just by looking at them. It took me awhile to get to this stage. But now I have a great set up and can have over 300 containers to bring to the market every Sunday.”

Trays of microgreens.

How to use Microgreens:

Ben shares the way he uses microgreens in his home. 

“Microgreens are best fresh. Don’t cut them off and then leave them in the fridge. The best way to do it is to leave some scissors next to the plant on your dining table or kitchen. When you go to eat, just cut off a few stalks and add them to your meal," he says.

“We recommend not cooking them either as the nutrient value changes when you change the temperature of the food.”

Things to try them on:

  • Radishes work great in wraps and sandwiches, especially if you’ve got lots of sauces in it to mellow out the spice.
  • Broccoli has a milder flavour so it’s not hard to add to most food, but works great on pizza. It also works well on roasted potatoes and omelettes. 
  • Pea shoots go great in tacos, or on top of noodles.
  • Once you’ve dabbled in radishes and broccoli, you can work up to wasabi and rocket, which pack a punch and accentuate flavours in your meal. Add them to any dish that you want a bit of a kick!

Find out more about Valley Greens, or check them out at the Harbourside Market