Why couscous is the best grain
It's quick to make and light to eat
I love a tasty, quick to make, light yet filling meal. When I look back to see what ticked those boxes, a grain came up frequently... At that moment I asked myself, 'I wonder why it is not used more?' This grain is couscous, made from balls of crushed durum wheat semolina.
In the good old days, this was a popular grain in North African countries and areas nearby. Thanks to globalisation and advancements in retail, it is now available on your supermarket shelves wherever you are in the world. There is also another variant called Israeli couscous, Jerusalem couscous, Giant couscous or pearl couscous, which is the size of a peppercorn and takes a bit longer to cook.
How to cook it...
The traditional way of preparing couscous is a bit too long and confusing for me. However, the couscous you get in the supermarket is near ready to eat. It is pre-steamed and dried so all you have to do is to add hot water to it and cover it up. Three to four minutes later you have a fluffy, light healthy neutral-flavoured grain that you can add to any meal.
The amount of hot water to couscous ratio is given on the instructions of the brand you buy. Some will say to make it in a pan on the stove: don't, there is a chance you will burn it. If the only instruction on the pack is cooking it on the stove, add an extra 2/3rds of the water instructed and cover the bowl.
Is it healthy?
Yes it is! After a quick search on the nutritional facts on couscous, a cup of cooked couscous is about 170-176 calories, 36 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fibre and 6 grams of protein, with no sugar or fat. A cup of brown rice is about 200-220 calories, 46 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fat and 5 grams of protein. And if you are looking for a good source of plant-based protein, couscous is a good one, with the bonus of fibre too.
Another important nutrient you get from couscous is selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps to repair damaged cells and decreases inflammation. Selenium may also help lower the risk of heart disease by reducing the buildup of plaque and bad LDL cholesterol on arteries and veins.
What do you add to couscous?
Couscous is a neutral grain and it absorbs the flavours of other foods you add to it. It goes really well with vegetables, fish, lamb, chicken and in salads.
In the past, I have added stir fried vegetables to it and salmon. I've also enjoyed eating canned tuna in lemon juice with charred broccoli over couscous with some Sriracha or Tabasco on it. The thought of that makes me hungry.
Vegetables on a bed of couscous.
My opinion about couscous...
I like it! It's light, filling and cooks faster than any grain I know. And it goes well with a lot of foods. You might wonder whether because it's healthy, it would be expensive, but it's absolutely not. This is one of those healthy foods that is inexpensive: it costs about as much as a 500g bag/box of pasta or rice.