Couscous, a non-traditional pasta side dish and much more. Get to know all his faces!

Couscous is a popular healthy delicacy that is becoming more and more popular.

It has many health benefits and is also low in calories!

What is important to know about him?

In this article, you will learn how to prepare it correctly, where you can use it, and many other tips.

What exactly is couscous?

It is a type of pasta in the shape of small yellow balls. It is made from semolina , which are grains of the type of hard white wheat that is most suitable for making couscous. Wheat semolina is boiled, shaped into balls and then dried.

Cooked couscous in a bowl.

Why is it appropriate to include couscous in our diet?

Consuming couscous has several health benefits such as

It improves the cardiovascular system

Probably one of the most important components of couscous is selenium , which is a trace mineral that is very difficult to find in food, but is an essential mineral in the human body. One serving of couscous can contain more than 60% of the recommended daily intake of selenium , making it perhaps one of the richest sources of selenium of any food. When it comes to heart health, selenium works as a powerful antioxidant that works mainly in the blood vessels, where it reduces the build-up of plaque and dangerous cholesterol on the walls of arteries and veins. Selenium thus protects the body from the development of dangerous and life-threatening conditions , such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.

Additionally, couscous is a decent source of potassium , another essential nutrient. Potassium lowers blood pressure and is beneficial for patients who are at high risk of various cardiovascular diseases.

It can have a preventive effect against cancer

As mentioned earlier, selenium is a very important component of couscous that has a wide range of health benefits, including the prevention of certain cancers.

It strengthens the immune system

Selenium’s natural antioxidant properties help fight the spread of free radicals and other toxins in the bloodstream. In fact, selenium also stimulates the regeneration of vitamin C and vitamin E, both of which are integral to the body’s defense mechanisms.

It supports the growth of muscle mass

Selenium is also important for the development of muscle mass. Studies have shown that selenium deficiency is a major cause of muscle weakness and degradation, as well as abnormal fatigue or general physical weakness. Since selenium is so difficult to get into the body naturally, couscous may be one of the best sources for muscle growth!

It helps in wound healing

Wound healing and recovery from illness and surgery can be some of the most difficult times for your body, as it must work at full speed to continue normal function. Couscous can be a great help during this period, as it contains a large amount of protein. Protein is an integral part of wound healing as well as the metabolism of enzymes that aid in wound healing, both internally and externally.

Improves digestion

One cup of couscous can contain nearly 10% of the body’s daily fiber intake. Couscous is a fiber-rich food that helps with proper digestion and a healthy gastrointestinal system. Fiber can also reduce the likelihood of constipation, which in turn prevents a number of harmful bowel diseases, including stomach and colon and rectal cancer.

It helps in losing weight

Couscous has fewer calories than rice or quinoa, at just under 200 kcal in one cup, which is less than 10% of the recommended daily calorie intake for adults. This makes couscous suitable for those trying to lose weight. The rich fiber content in couscous also reduces the feeling of hunger.

Regulates the body’s metabolism

Thanks to its high protein content, couscous is ideal for regulating the metabolism of the whole body. It is popular with vegetarians and vegans because they do not accept some of the main sources of protein, meat and dairy products.

It has antibacterial properties

Couscous is proven to have antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Couscous and gluten

Since couscous is made from semolina, it contains gluten.

Some people have to avoid gluten for medical and health reasons and therefore follow a gluten-free diet.

Many people live with some degree of gluten sensitivity or intolerance, where the body cannot digest or break down gluten. This can cause symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, headache and fatigue.

Other people have celiac disease, an abnormal autoimmune response to eating gluten. Symptoms of celiac disease can be more severe and include seizures, numbness, nausea, fatigue, joint pain, joint stiffness, skin disorders, brittle bones, and digestive problems.

Nutritional values of couscous

Check out the nutritional values of cooked couscous in the table below.

Nutritional values per 100 g Couscous boiled in water
Energy 112 calories
Proteins 3.8 g
Fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 23 g
Sugars 0.1 g
Fiber 1.4 g

Vitamins and minerals contained in 100 grams of cooked couscous

Vitamins and minerals Values % of the recommended daily dose
Vitamin B1 0.063 mg 5
Vitamin B2 0.027 mg 2
Vitamin B3 0.983 mg 6
Vitamin B5 0.371 mg 7
Vitamin B6 0.051 mg 4
Folates 15.00 mcg 4
Vitamin E 0.13 mg 1
Vitamin K 0.1 mcg 0
Calcium 8.00 mg 1
Copper 0.04 mg 4
Iron 0.38 mg 2
Magnesium 8.00 mg 2
Manganese 0.084 mg 4
Phosphorus 22.00 mg 3
Potassium 58.00 mg 1
Selenium 27.50 mcg 50
Sodium 5.00 mg 0
Zinc 0.26 mg 2

Types of couscous

Couscous can be divided according to its size into:

  • Moroccan couscous
    It is the smallest (about the size of semolina) and cooks in a few minutes. It is the most widespread type of couscous.
  • Israeli (pearl) couscous
    It is larger than Moroccan couscous and resembles small pieces of pasta. Cooking takes about 10 minutes.
  • Lebanese couscous
    Also called Moghrabieh couscous, it is larger than Israeli couscous and takes the longest to cook.

Take a look at the following table to get an idea of how the nutritional values of Moroccan and Israeli couscous differ.

Moroccan couscous (100g raw) Israeli couscous (100g raw)
Calorie 356 380
Fat 2g 2g
Carbohydrates 73g 80g
Proteins 13g 12g

Furthermore, we can meet the division of couscous into white and whole grain.

  • Whole grain couscous is made from whole grains, so we consume many valuable substances and fibers from the outer layers of the grains in it. If possible, buy couscous made with whole wheat flour, which is less processed and not stripped of nutrients.
  • White couscous is made from white wheat, which has been stripped of its casing layers and unfortunately loses a large amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

For comparison, we have a table of the basic nutritional values of uncooked white and whole grain couscous.

White couscous (1/4 cup, uncooked) Whole wheat couscous (1/4 cup, uncooked)
Calorie 150 160
Fat 0 g 1 g
Carbohydrates 30 g 31 g
Proteins 5 g 6 g
Fiber 2 g 3 g
Calcium 20 mg 20 mg
Iron 1 mg 2 mg

Where to buy couscous and how to store it?

Couscous is widely available and should not be difficult to find. Moroccan couscous will be the most common in supermarkets, but depending on how well stocked the supermarket is, you may also find pearl couscous.

Uncooked couscous should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the pantry. It can last up to two years. However, if you have stored couscous for a while, smell it to make sure it hasn’t gone rancid.

Cooked couscous will keep in the fridge for about three days, but could lose its freshness sooner if combined with other ingredients that spoil more quickly.

How is couscous prepared?

Instant couscous is prepared very simply:

  1. Bring 1 1/2 cups water or stock to a boil, remove from heat, and add 1 cup couscous.
  2. Allow the water and steam to hydrate the grains (about 5 minutes), then fluff them with a fork.

Traditional couscous is best steamed three times in a special couscous pot, the so-called couscousiére, which creates the right texture every time. While ideal, it is not necessary and can be expensive. Alternatively, place a heatproof colander in the pot and line it with a thin cloth if the couscous holes are too large. Do not cover the pot as condensation can drip onto the grains and turn the couscous into a mush.

Couscous can also be cooked similarly to rice :

  1. Heat the butter and 1 cup couscous in a saucepan and stir to coat.
  2. Add 1 and 1/2 cups water or stock and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, cover and continue to cook until all the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Don’t cook it too long or it will be mushy rather than fluffy.

One cup of dried couscous makes 2 1/2 cups of cooked couscous. As a side dish, an average serving is 1/2 to 3/4 cup couscous.

What can be prepared from couscous?

Couscous for breakfast

Couscous is also great sweetened with raisins, coconut milk, nuts and honey. Another option is to mix couscous with muesli, compote and season with cinnamon or turmeric.

Sweet couscous with nuts, coconut and raisins served in a bowl with a spoon.

Couscous as a snack

You can add fresh vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, onions, salad cucumber, olives…) or grated or chopped cheese to the cooled couscous. Season with olive oil or yogurt for a great healthy and refreshing snack!

Couscous for lunch or dinner

Couscous is served as a side dish to meat or vegetables. It can also be seasoned separately and served warm or cold in the form of a salad.

Couscous with vegetables and meat in a pan with a wooden spoon.

Get inspired by our recipes for vegetable couscous or chicken with couscous . You will enjoy!

Couscous history and interesting facts

It is a staple food of the Maghreb , also known as northwest Africa, and is so popular that in March 2019, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Mauritania submitted a joint application for couscous to be granted Intangible Cultural Heritage status by UNESCO , which was later approved.

One of the earliest written references to couscous is in an anonymous thirteenth-century Hispano-Muslim cookbook . However, the suspicious silence about couscous in sources from before the 13th century, together with the evident Berber origin of the Arabic word “couscous”, suggests that couscous originated among the Berbers of northern Algeria and Morocco during an obscure period between the 11th century collapse of the Zirid kingdom and the triumph of the Almohads in the century 13.

Food historian Clifford Wright posits that couscous began to be made sometime in the 12th century in Tunisia from barley and acorn flour before durum wheat became the predominant grain.

Couscous in legend

According to legend, King Solomon, son of David and ruler of Israel, fell madly in love with the Queen of Sheba while visiting the court so deeply that he completely lost his appetite, threatening his health and ability to rule. His cook was so good that he invented a dish, couscous, so rich in spices that the king started eating again, and so the cook saved his life.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)