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Couscous Can be a Quick, Healthy Addition to a Meal is Gaining Popularity

LAMAR, Mo. -- Couscous (pronounced koos-koos) is gaining popularity as a quick to fix side dish or, with the right ingredients, as a part of a one-dish meal according to Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “Couscous cooks quickly and blends well with a variety of foods,” said Roberts.

Couscous is actually yellow granules of semolina which is made by milling hard durum wheat. The American Dietetic Association classifies it as a type of pasta. To make the couscous, semolina is mixed with flour and sprinkled with cold salted water and then pressed and rolled to obtain tiny beads. 

“Don’t assume the couscous you are buying is whole grain. It’s not whole grain unless the package states that it is,” said Roberts. “From a health standpoint, it’s worth it to purchase the whole grain couscous.”

Three-fourths of a cup of prepared whole grain couscous has 210 calories, 1 gram of fat, 7 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein and provides 10 percent of the Daily Value for iron. The same amount of regular couscous has 150 calories, less than one gram of fat, 2 grams of fiber and five grams of protein. Because it is made from wheat, couscous is always a good source of B vitamins.

“Couscous is often used in salads, mixed with fruit or served alone as a side dish. Many people serve stew or soups over couscous,” said Roberts.

The following recipe can be used as a main course and contains four of the five food groups:

Nutty Couscous with Raisins and Vegetables
2 cups water
One-half cup raisins
1 and one-half cup broccoli florets
One-half cup sliced green onions
One-half cup chick peas (garbanzo beans)
1 and one-half cups whole-wheat couscous
One-half cup almonds or other nuts (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil and add broccoli and raisins. Once broccoli is tender add green onions, chick peas, couscous and almonds. Turn off the heat, cover and let it sit for five minutes. Flake with a fork and serve. Each serving (a total of 4 in this recipe) provides 330 calories, 7 grams of fat, 9 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein.

For more information on nutrition issues, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu or contact one of the nutrition and health education specialists working in the Ozarks: Tammy Roberts, (417) 682-3579; Christeena Haynes, (417) 345-7551; or Dr. Pam Duitsman, (417) 886-2059.

Information provided by MU Extension Southwest Regional News Service.

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