Couscous is the easiest grain to prepare and super healthy for the inner athlete in all of us.
You can certainly buy the seasoned, boxed versions of couscous but I prefer to buy the original/plain 31.7 oz container so I can make many different options of couscous depending on my taste buds for the day.
Couscous is a staple food in North Africa and the Middle East and you can often find it in Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine. Couscous is relatively inexpensive made from wheat. The only ingredient in plain couscous is Unenriched Durum Semolina, which is a type of wheat. There are other varieties of couscous which include barley, corn and ground corn meal as the primary ingredient. Couscous is very versatile and it can be prepared in a sweet dish (ex. with cranberries and apples), a vegetarian dish (ex. with peppers, tofu and mushrooms) or in a meat dish (ex. with chicken or salmon).
Here's the nutritional breakdown of 1/4 cup couscous:
Total carbs: 31g
Dietary fiber: 2g
There is no fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium or cholesterol. However, when prepared with oil or butter (as recommended in most cooking directions/recipes) you will add more calories and fat to your meal.
How to make plain, unseasoned couscous:
*I listed the nutrition facts for 1/4 cup but in order to prepare more than one serving, I will give directions for 1 cup.
1 cup couscous
1 cup water
1) Bring water to a boil
2) Add couscous, stir quickly.
3) Remove from heat and cover.
4) Let stand for 4-5 minutes and fluff with a fork before serving.
1) Microwave water in microwave-safe dish on high for 1-2 minutes or until water is boiling.
2) Remove from microwave (be careful of hot water) and add couscous.
3) Stir quickly and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes and fluff with fork before serving.
Here's the recipe I made the other night. Super quick, easy, healthy and affordable!
1 cup Couscous
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped jalapenos (I buy them in a jar but you can use fresh)
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup corn
2-3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 can chili tomatoes (you can also use fresh tomatoes or another canned tomato brand)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped leafy greens
Your choice of protein: Chicken or veggie burger
Optional: Salsa and cheese
Optional: 1 flat out wrap toasted into 4ths, spread w/ hummus
1. Prepare couscous and set aside.
2. On a medium heat skillet w/ olive oil, cook veggies (onions, jalapenos, mushrooms, garlic and corn). If corn is frozen, cook corn first for a few minutes and then add other ingredients. Stir every few minutes until golden brown.
3. As veggies are cooking, prepare your protein.
4. I cut a slit in the veggie burger package and microwaved for 1 minute and 30 sec. For the chicken, I cooked 2 boneless chicken tenderloins w/ pepper, oregano, italian seasoning and cayenne and the other 2 tenderloins with a flake cereal (you can use special K or total) which I crumbled the flakes and rubbed on chicken w/ 1 tsp. of olive oil and pepper. I then cooked the chicken on a small medium skillet w/ 1/2 tbsp. olive oil for a few minutes. I covered when they were finished cooking.
5. When veggies are almost golden brown, add tomatoes and give a stir so all veggies are mixed well. I like to give all my canned foods a good rinse before using. Don't worry about losing flavor. Pour the tomatoes in a strainer and give a good rinse for 5-10 sec. before adding to the pan.
6. After 1-2 minutes of cooking with tomatoes, turn off heat and cover.
7. Time to prepare the plate!
-Place handful leafy greens in shallow bowl.
-Place 1/4 cup couscous on veggies.
-Place 1/4 cup veggie mixture on greens.
-Top with protein (chicken strips or cut veggie burger into pieces)
-Optional: Toast 1/4ths of flat-out wrap as "pita" chips and spread with 1/2 tbsp hummus. 1-2 pieces of wrap per person. Top with 2 tbsp salsa and less than 1/8cup taco or mexican shredded cheese.
*This meal should take less than 15 minutes to make. To make this meal for on-the-go, prepare all ingredients ahead of time and use a little of all ingredients in the above recipe inside the flat-out wrap for a healthy wrap for lunch. Couscous can be eaten cold or warmed for 10-15 seconds.