Thursday, April 19, 2018

Couscous with Dried Fruits & Nuts

Simply eating a handful of nuts is going to get old sooner or later no matter how healthy you might want to be. So, having other ways to sneak a handful of nuts into your eating and fueling habits is key.

Side dishes are the perfect answer for you nut dilemma. Use bulgur wheat or couscous for this Mediterranean-inspired 'salad' packed with dried fruits, creamy feta, nuts, and, when in season, pomegranate arils. One of my favorite dishes for sure.

Walnuts have the highest alpha-lenolenic acid (ALA) and polyunsaturated fat content amongst nuts; thus, making it a great source for healthy plant-based fats and omega-3-fatty acids. However, they can also taste bitter at times..and then, nuts are omitted...don't do that!.

As an alternative, I will occasionally substitute cashews or pistachios which have a smoother, buttery and richer flavor profile along with a lower total fat content; but, unfortunately, have a significantly lower concentration of polyunsaturated fats. Just choose one!

Couscous with Dried Fruit & Nuts

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth, hot
  • 1 cup of toasted walnuts, pistachios, almonds or cashews 
  • 2 oz block feta, crumbled or cubed
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup dried dates, diced
  • 1/2 cup green scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbls fresh mint
  • 1 medium apple, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2-3 Tbls olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbls honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. In a glass bowl, cover couscous with vegetable broth to 1/4" above the grains.
  2. Let stand x 20 min. 
  3. Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, honey and salt. Adjust for sweet and salt to taste.
  4. Finely dice the apple and marinate in the lemon-honey vinaigrette.
  5. Fluff couscous and add nuts, pomegranates, dried fruits, scallions, and feta.
  6. Separate the apples from the vinaigrette and add them to the couscous.
  7. Taste the salad at this point. 
  8. I actually add very little of the vinaigrette because it is already so flavorful, but you decide how moist you want the salad to be.

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Chocolate Almond Protein Smoothie

A great way to start your day before you 'go nuts' at work: Chocolate Almond Protein SmoothieIf you don't like eating nuts, try drinking them. 

That said, choose your 'milk' wisely. Check the content and read the labels to avoid buying nut-flavored waters with additives. I have recently discovered Elmhurst Milked. 
Their flavor is rich, they have "options" (hazelnut, walnuts, cashew, almond...even oats), and their product has a higher ratio of real nuts to water--obviously, that comes with a price. 

This recipe adds an extra boost of 'nuts' with a few tablespoons of nut butter. See what you think!

Chocolate Almond Protein Smoothie

  • 1 plus 1/2 cup Elmhurst Milked Almonds almond milk
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (I prefer frozen)
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 2 scoops Chocolate Whey Protein powder
  • 1-2 Tbls almond nut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbls dark (70% preferred) bittersweet chocolate chips or cocoa nibs

  1. Must have a Vitamix or other blender.
  2. Combine all ingredients and hit the 'POWER' button.
  3. Makes approximately 3 cups.



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