What is couscous?
Many people think that couscous is a grain, but in fact, it is more like a pasta. It is made by rolling semolina durum whole wheat into tiny balls. There are three kinds of couscous, representing three different sizes. Moroccan couscous is the smallest, with the Israeli and Lebanese couscous being larger.
Why is couscous good for you?
- It’s anti-inflammatory. Couscous is rich in selenium, which is a powerful anti-oxidant. It is important for thyroid health and lowers inflammation.
- It can help lower your risk of cancer. Research shows that selenium-rich foods can help lower your risk of cancer, especially prostate cancer.
- It can help boost your immune system. Selenium can lower oxidative stress, giving your immune system important support.
- It’s a good source of plant protein. We all know that protein is an important part of our daily diet. Couscous provides 6 grams of protein per one cup serving.
Finally, it’s really easy to prepare! Just prepare it in boiling water or in broth like you would prepare rice. There are even instant versions available. You can serve it as a side dish or as a base for soup or stew.
Note: couscous contains gluten, so it’s not appropriate for those with gluten sensitivity, intolerance, or celiac disease.
Some benefits of root vegetables:
- High in beta carotene – beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A and has been shown to help prevent many chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. It’s found in carrots, squash and sweet potatoes.
- High in soluble and non-soluble fibre – Fibre helps to boost the health of gut bacteria, lower high levels of blood fats and blood glucose, and reduce the risk of Type-2 diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.
- High in selenium – Selenium is an essential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant mineral. It helps maintain a healthy immune system.
- High in folic acid – folic acid is an important B vitamin which supports cognitive function and helps prevent birth defects.
- Great source of potassium – potassium can reduce your blood pressure and have a positive effect on heart health. Parsnips are particularly high in potassium.
- 1 cup fine couscous and 1.5 cups water for 4 portions (or 2 cups couscous and 3 cups water for 6-8 portions) – can use quinoa for a gluten free version
- A little olive or sesame oil.
- Onions, cabbage, carrots, pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, zucchini, and any other vegetables you want to add
- Celery root (celeriac) and parsley root or turnip – with leaves
- 1 cup of chickpeas (tinned or soaked overnight)
- Water or vegetable broth – enough to cover the vegetables in the pot
- Cumin, coriander powder, turmeric, a little cinnamon
- A little black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Option: Parsley or coriander leaves to garnish
- Prepare the couscous in a separate pot. Toast the grains in a little olive or sesame oil. Then add 1.5 c water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 1-15 minutes until the water disappears. Fluff and let sit.
- Clean and cut all the vegetables.
- Separate the leaves from the vegetables, dice or cube the vegetables.
- Put all the vegetables including the leaves from the roots (save the chickpeas for later) in a large pot, cover with water or broth.
- Cook over high heat until boiling. Then add spices to taste, continue cooking over low heat until the vegetables become soft, about 20 minutes. Check the seasoning and water level occasionally – liquid may need to be added.
- Remove the leaves, add the chickpeas.
- Pour in bowls over the couscous, garnish with the coriander/parsley leaves.
Cindy Solkin is a Nutritionist at BodaHealth in Vancouver, British Columbia.