Friday recipe: thinking about drinking (and couscous)

Just walk away...
Just walk away…

I’m thinking about drinking, and I promise it’s not because it’s Friday. Rather, I’m contemplating information provided by Joy Schiller, M.S., CHES, DMU wellness director, on sneaky sodas and the wisdom of water. For example, drinking a typical 20-ounce bottle of soda is the equivalent of eating 17 teaspoons of sugar (now that’s a powerful visual!).

If you’re trying to manage or lose weight, replacing sugary sodas with with water is a wise move. First, your body needs it. The Institute of Medicine suggests that women consume nine cups of water daily and men, 13 cups. You can estimate your daily food intake will cover about 20 percent of your water intake. Water is also the most effective thirst-quencher, and of course it’s calorie-free. If you need to turn up the taste, float some citrus fruit slices in your glass.

Joy shares these additional insights on beverages:

  • Milk is a good source for calcium, protein, vitamin D and other nutrients. Turn to or transition to fat-free milk for the lowest calories.
  • If you must drink soda, the diet variety is better than regular. Just make sure you don’t use your diet pop as an excuse to eat more.
  • Moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages can work in weight management and can have health benefits for many adults. Be aware, though, that alcohol is calorie-dense, with seven calories per gram versus four for carbohydrates and protein. One ounce of 80-proof alcohol contains 70 calories, and mixed drinks often contain more. Alcoholic beverages can also prime your appetite, making that super-size pile of happy-hour nachos less resistible.

So pour yourself a cold glass of water while you peruse this week’s recipe from Dr. Barbara Rolls’ book, The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet. Couscous is a coarsely ground pasta made from semolina, a type of wheat, and a nutritious absorber of all kinds of great seasonings, such as the Middle Eastern mix in this recipe.Couscous

Couscous with Middle Eastern vegetable stew
Makes 4 servings, 2 cups vegetables with ¾ cup couscous each

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • One 14.5-ounce can plain or seasoned diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • One 14.5-ounce can vegetable or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup Israeli or Moroccan couscous
  • 1 large Yukon gold potato, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 large (about 1½ pounds) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then into ¼-inch slices
  • One 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

Combine the onion, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and broth in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the couscous according to package directions. Keep warm.

Add the potato, squash, zucchini and chickpeas and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, adding water if necessary to keep the vegetables just covered with liquid.

Stir in the cilantro (if using) and season with salt, pepper and cayenne before serving over the couscous.

Nutritional info per serving: calories, 355; carbohydrate, 77g; fat, 2g; protein, 13g; fiber, 11g

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