Cooking with Couscous: Comfort Food Gone Global

Sorry, all you Paleo proponents out there, but this post is basically a love letter to grain. Couscous, to be exact. What…did I already give that away in the title or something? Silly me.

couscous grain spotlight

Anyway, this traditional North African staple, made from semolina then steamed until fluffy, pairs fabulously with a diverse range of flavors. From robust winter vegetables to zesty spice blends, it’s the perfect canvas for vegetarian and carnivorous dishes.

My latest kitchen creation features this ingredient as the base for an effortless weeknight meal loaded with colorful veggies and plant-based proteins, plus a sweet and savory seasoning mashup. Just watch: everyone at your dinner table will become couscous converts!

This recipe yields approximately 4 servings, and leftovers are guaranteed. So, you’ve also got a ready-made lunch the next day. #Winning.

warm butternut squash and couscous salad

Ingredients:

1 c. Dried Couscous (I used Moroccan, but Israeli works too)

1 c. Butternut Squash (peeled & cubed)

1/2 c. Chick Peas (drained & rinsed)

1/4 c. Raisins (natural & unsulfured)

1/4 c. Raw Almonds (chopped)

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tbsp. Ground Cumin

1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to-taste)

Preparation:

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the Couscous with 1 cup Water and 2 tbsp. Olive Oil, then place the pan on a stovetop burner and bring the water to a rolling boil.
  2. Turn the heat down to a low setting and allow the couscous to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the water has been absorbed — about 10 minutes.
  3. While the couscous is simmering, coat the bottom of a skillet with the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, then place the skillet on another stovetop burner and turn the heat to a medium setting.
  4. Add the Butternut SquashChick Peas, Raisins and Almonds, then  sauté, stirring frequently, until the butternut squash has softened — about 15 minutes. 
  5. Transfer this mixture into the couscous pan and season with Cumin, Cinnamon, Sea Salt and Pepper, then thoroughly combine all the ingredients together.

couscous recipe

Serving Suggestion:

Although I’m a fan of eating this salad as a stand-alone meal (Meatless Monday, anyone?!), it’s also a versatile side dish for grilled fish, baked falafel or another Middle Eastern-inspired protein.

Ditch the Drugstore: Why Homemade Make-up Is the Way to Go

Sure, it’s a matter of convenience. One quick stroll down the personal care aisle, and you’ve got the entire makings of a beautified face. Maybelline, Cover Girl, and Loreal are definitely dialed into your “make me pretty” needs. Why would you even consider looking elsewhere when it’s time to pile on the glitz?!

Well, for starters…how about because those products aren’t exactly face-friendly?

Yep, gasp-worthy but true.

To prove this point, I looked up the ingredients list for standard Maybelline eyeshadow, and the search results read like a who’s-who-of-toxic-chemicals: Talc, Triisostearin, Phenyl Trimethicone, Magnesium Stearate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Nylon-12, Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Alumina, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Cetyl Dimethicone, Synthetic Wax, Methylparaben, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Silica, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Tin Oxide, Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben.

(source: www.preventcancer.com).

That’s a whole mishmash of words I can’t even pronounce, but it doesn’t sound like a holistic spa retreat, that’s for damn sure! Basically, here’s what you can take away from this little lesson in chemistry: NO BUENO.

So…umm…what’s a girl to do?!

Make your own make-up, of course! This all-natural alternative to those synthetic science experiments cluttering the cosmetic counter is surprisingly simple and completely skin-safe. Before you dismiss this as some tree-hugging-earth-woman mumbojumbo, just consider these perks of taking the organic beauty approach:

Why DIY?

  • You’ll save money since most of the ingredients needed to whip up a batch of foundation can be found right in your kitchen.
  • You’ll also save time since you won’t have to hit up CVS every few weeks upon running out of that precious Cover Girl bottle.
  • You’ll be in total control over which substances your face is exposed to (that means no harsh irritants, preservatives, or anything developed in a laboratory – for that matter!).

Now, time to make it!

This 5-ingredient powder foundation will undoubtedly become a staple for your morning routine…

  • Ingredients:
  1. Arrowroot Powder (get it here!)
  2. Cocoa Powder
  3. Ground Cinnamon
  4. Ground Nutmeg
  5. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Preparation:
  1. Pour the arrowroot powder into a shallow mixing bowl (use 1 tbsp. for light skin and 1 tsp. for dark skin).
  2. Add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the arrowroot and combine thoroughly (eyeball the amount of these ingredients you use until the desired skin tone is reached).
  3. Drizzle approximately 5 drops of olive oil into this mixture and stir until the texture is slightly more compact.
  4. Apply the foundation with a large make-up brush.

(recipe courtesy of: Thank Your Body)

diy foundation

Sidenote: I substituted 1 tbsp. Cornstarch since I didn’t have any Arrowroot Powder on-hand, and it still worked just fine.