March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Couscous: It's not a grain, but instead a type of whole-wheat or regular pasta, which, when soaked in hot liquid for 5 minutes, gets tender and fluffy. A staple in Northern Africa, couscous is typically served to soak up the spicy flavors of chicken, lamb and vegetables stews made with many combos of nutrient-rich vegetables (like carrots, eggplant, onion, sweet potato, tomatoes, turnips and zucchini). A versatile ingredient, couscous also can be made into delectable desserts when sprinkled with almonds, cinnamon and sugar, perfumed with rose or orange flower water, or prepared with dates, sesame seeds and honey.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
1 1/2 cups dry whole wheat or regular couscous
1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts *
1/2 cup chopped fresh or dried figs **
Salt to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add onion and garlic. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until onion is translucent.
- Add broth and orange juice. Bring to a boil.
- Add cloves, cinnamon and, if desired, saffron. Stir.
- Add couscous, remove from heat and allow to sit for about 5 minutes, allowing couscous to absorb the liquid.
- When couscous is cooked, stir in hazelnuts, figs and remaining 2 tablespoon olive oil.
- Fluff with a fork, season with salt, and top with crumbled feta cheese and chopped mint.
* Substitute any toasted nuts, such as almonds, pine nuts, pistachios or walnuts.
** Substitute dates, apricots or dried plums (prunes).
Serving size: about 3/4 cup
Calories: 410; Calories from fat: 170; Total fat: 19g; Saturated fat: 3.5g; Trans fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 10mg; Sodium 230mg; Total carbohydrate: 53g; Dietary fiber: 9g; Sugars: 12g; Protein: 12g