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Type: Cous Cous

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      26.07.2011 18:43
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      If you don't have time for rice or pasta then Tesco's couscous is for you!

      A lot of my dinners at university are rice or pasta based dishes (when they weren't ready meals) and around the summer term this year I felt I needed something different, preferably if I wanted a lighter or quicker dish. Now my sister swears by couscous, but I'd avoided it because it didn't seem as filling as rice. Nevertheless I decided to give the Tesco pack a go, seeming it would save on cupboard shopping of the other bulk foods bought in the long term.

      Tesco couscous comes in two different sized packs: a 500g pack for 59p, or the 1kg pack for £1.18. Either pack is excellent value for money whether you serve for one person or five. The current packaging is clear plastic with a square of text with the title and a description of couscous. You open the pack by cutting open across the top, but there is a resealable tab so it can be stored without mess.

      Cooking couscous is really simple; pour the amount needed into a bowl, top up with enough water to be fully immersed, add a knob of butter for flavour and cover. The couscous cooks via steam so this is usually ready in a matter of minutes. The taste of couscous is pretty plain on its own but this is expected from a cupboard product. Furthermore it makes couscous more versatile than normal rice. It's up to you how it can taste and you can try it out with herbs, spices or even stock.

      After trying this product out with fish I can see why couscous is so popular. The packs are great value and the couscous itself is filling and very easy to cook. If you've never tried couscous then this is highly recommended!

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      25.07.2011 22:33
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      Cannot recommend trying this enough!

      Cous cous is one of my favourite foods. Its quick and easy to make, plus it is filling without making you feel bloated. In fact, I just had a gorgeous cous cous salad this evening after craving it for a few days, washed down with a glass of carrot, orange and lemon juice. Best of all, its one of the healthiest grains for you. And its cheap. What is not to love about this versatile little grain?

      -- What is cous cous --
      Cous cous is a staple in many countries, such as Western/Northern African countries, France, Spain, and Brazil (amongst many more). In fact, it was Tunisia that I first tried a cous cous dish, traditionally prepared too and so glad I did.

      Though different countries have their own varieties, in Tescos (and in the UK in general) it is wheat based. To make cous cous, it is a very labour intensive process, but of course it comes ready made in stores (as with pasta). It comes in the bag as small, hard little balls.

      Once cooked, it is light and fluffy. Very contrasting to the hard grain in the bag. And it doesn't take long for it to get into this state either!

      So what does it taste like? When cooked on its own, there isn't much taste. However, with many dishes like it, it depends on what you are cooking it with. Cook it with stock and even add some veg and you have a great tasting pasta/rice replacement. It doesn't take much to get this great product tasting great.

      -- Health benefits --
      It is also one of the healthier grain-based products. It contains insoluble carbohydrates (the slow releasing ones) and about 6 grams of protein per serving. Compared to pasta it contains more: riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, thiamine and pantothenic acid. So, I don't know what all that does but hey, can't be bad for you! And a plus on top of this is that there is hardly any fat in it what so ever!

      It doesn't leave you feeling bloated. Its light but still filling. Plus it works so well with vegetables.

      -- Preparation --
      There are many recipes out there for couscous. But this is the one I usually use. Its easy and quick. I usually make this after I have made a pot of soup using up the veg that didn't make it into a pot.

      Get a whole bunch of chopped up veg (I usually have an assortment of carrot, celery, onion, garlic, potato, red pepper, leek, spring onions) mixed up with whatever herbs and spices you have. Fry them up in a pan (I usually use butter/spread). Once they are soft, take it off the heat and add the cous cous (I usually just pour it in until it looks enough, but if its your first time look at the serving suggestion for measurments). Mix it all up together and add to the heat before adding in your vegetable stock. Wait until the cous cous has soaked up the stock and is all light and fluffy before taking off the heat. Once in your plate/bowl, fluff it up with a fork. I had this tonight and it was delicious. I find its great for hot summer days. I made this for people who usually hate veg and they loved it! And its so simple to make.

      However, this is just one suggestion. There are so many things you can do with this little product and it is a great alternative to rice and pasta. If you are stuck, a quick google search for couscous brings up many ideas.

      The 500g bag will last longer than you'd think, especially when it only costs about 80p for this bag making it great for students and others on a budget (though I recommend it to all, not just those on a budget!) It is definite value for money. A bowl of this will really keep you filled up.

      -- Downsides --
      Now, after all the great things about this product, its time to tell you about the downsides to this product...

      Well, the only one I can think of is if you spill it, the little balls get everywhere.

      -- Conclusion --
      A great, versatile product. It can be used in so many dishes and has some great health benefits also. On top of this, it is cheap. So, what are you waiting for? Get down to Tesco, grab yourself a bag and see what you can make!

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      23.07.2010 10:27
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      Tesco couscous

      I am a couscous fan but when it comes to describing what it is exactly it gets a bit harder so I turned to the internet to get a quote. Couscous is a grain product made from semolina (coarsely ground durum wheat) or, in some regions, from coarsely ground barley orpearl millet. Couscous is traditionally served under a meat or vegetable stew. It can also be eaten alone, flavored or plain, warm or cold, or as a side dish. It is particularly popular among Jews of North African descent such as the Algerian Jews, Tunisian Jews and Moroccan Jews, and is eaten in many other parts of the world as well.

      So, there you have it! Well, that describes what it actually is and where it is eaten, etc but how to make it is a whole other headache. Proper couscous I believe is very hard to make as according to an article I read, traditional couscous requires considerable preparation time and is usually steamed. In many places, a more-processed, quick-cook couscous is available and is particularly valued for its short preparation time.

      I have found that Tesco's sale a very nice Mediterranean style couscous that is extremely easy to make and very cheap too. It comes in a packet, almost like a dried pasta packet that you need to make but all you need to do to this couscous is add boiling water. It is so easy to make and very tasty. You open the packet and add the dry couscous to a bowl. Then add 6fl oz of boiling water, stir and leave to sit for 5 minutes and voila, you have a bowl of lovely, fragrant couscous. This mediterranean flavour contains tomatoes, onion and black olives. I then add tomatoes, avocado and balsamic vinegar to the mix and you have a lovely, healthy salad. I think it makes a change to lunch from just a regular salad or something boring like a sandwich.

      This couscous is suitable for vegetarians and is also quite low in calories. Half a packet of made up couscous contains only 165 calories. THis is also very inexpensive to buy as a packet costs just 65 pence.

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        01.04.2010 21:11
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        Great!

        Yet another healthy food attempt from me!

        Couscous, for those that don't know, are tiny little balls which are wheat flour and can be found on the pasta aisle of Tescos.

        The packet is plastic and is filled right to the top. The bag is 500g and has a picture of the couscous on the front and the usual nutritional information and instructions.

        The couscous is really easy to prepare. I make it for just myself, and so it takes literally 2 minutes to prepare, however for a family of four it would take about 6 minutes. The couscous is poured into a saucepan, 50 grammes each, and then some water added. The water soaks in to the couscous and voila!

        I have my couscous warm, and literally add anything that is in the fridge! Vegetables, dried apricots, raisins, cheese, meat etc. However, when the summer arrives, I will be eating more cold couscous, with salads. The couscous is very versatile and can be eaten in so many ways. Another way I like to eat it is to flavour it up and then stuff peppers or tomatoes with it.

        The couscous is wholewheat, which is obviously more healthy than the regular couscous is. It is a healthier option to pasta or rice.

        A 50g serving has 180kcal and so is a great option for a low calorie, healthy diet.

        If you haven't tried it then I really recommend it! The packet cost 69p and it goes a long way so it is definitely worth giving it a go!

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        11.02.2010 13:58
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        Lovely alternative to potatoes, rice or pasta

        Tesco Whole Wheat Couscous can be found in the pasta isle of Tesco with the pulses. It comes in a see-though plastic packet weighing 500g and costs around 90p. On the front of the packet you can clearly see the nutritional values and on the back tells you how to prepare it.

        It is extremely easy to prepare, all you have to do is weigh out 50g per person and add some boiling water, (250ml for four servings) then cover it and wait for 5-10 minutes before fluffing it up with a fork and serving straight away. You can also prepare it by warming some water in a saucepan, adding the couscous and leaving to stand for 3 minutes. Then return to the heat and simmering for 3-4 minutes. I would say this is the better method doing it the other way the couscous tends to cool down quite a bit (which is fine when having it with salad)

        Being wholewheat this couscous is much more filling than the plain, white couscous and healthier for you, much like white versus wholemeal bread. A 50g serving give you just 180 calories and 1g of fat so it can be part of a healthy lifestyle just like rice or pasta. You have the choice of adding a little butter or oil if you prefer but I like it just made with boiling water.

        As couscous has a very light taste it can be served with a variety of food. Chicken and fish are my favourite, you may want to have some kind of marinade or sauce to give it flavour or add herbs. A favourite lunch of mine is couscous, half a can of tuna chunks and some salad. This gives around 300 calories and is a nice, healthy meal. Couscous is also very filling, I find it's much more so than bread.

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          04.07.2009 23:59
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          I like it but realise it's a very plain tasting, stodgy dish

          When it comes to either cooking or eating healthy I'm positively useless at both of them tasks. Having an eating disorder (I'm trying to combat right now) I usually eat loads of junk food and cook nothing at all. It's very rare indeed you'd see me eating a proper prepared and hot meal and normally I'm the one who's sat eating cake or chocolate etc.

          Well all that this week has changed. I have a new fitness regime resulting in a 6 month contract at the gym and a healthy eating plan to boot. No more junk food, no more being ill after eating junk food just plenty of the right foods and general exercise. It's hard work all of it but I'm sure will be beneficial to me in the long run!

          So browsing through my local Tesco store the other day I'd normally hit the confectionery and load up. This time however I found myself stocking up on fruits, vegetables, pulses and grains. With burning up about 500 calories (at least in the gym in a session) I need my energy and some natural sugar releasing type of foods. I need foods that help me feel fuller for longer and release energy slowly. So far in one week I'm sick of the sight of brown rice and pasta so when I saw this couscous I grabbed a bag of it to try having never eaten it before.

          The Packaging....

          500g clear plastic bag and on the front I'm told it's Tesco 'Whole Foods' Couscous and that it contains protein which is essential for the body's growth and repair and is an alternative to pasta or rice. I'm then told the weight (500g in this case) and there is an at a glance nutritional chart. On the back of the packet there is a resealable tab, ingredients, allergy advice and nutritional information is all given (and I'm told it is suitable for Vegetarians) as well as instructions on how to cook it and how to store it, details for Tesco are given as well as the size being stated again, the recycle symbol is shown and finally there is a bar-code on there. Nice simple packaging this is which is informative enough, doesn't look cheap and/or nasty and I do like the resealable tab on the back of the packet for ease of storing.



          Cooking It - Serves4....

          Put 250 ml (9 fl oz) water into a saucepan. Add 1 x 15 ml (1 tbsp) cooking
          oil and heat gently. Add 200g (8 oz) couscous and stir with a wooden spoon.
          Cover and remove from the heat for 3 minutes or until the water is nearly
          absorbed. Add a knob of butter and salt to taste and return to heat. Cover
          gently for 3-4 minutes. Separate grains with a fork before serving.

          The Couscous....

          Well it cooked up really easily and had a very sort of soggy film to the top of it when cooked but no aroma. I simply rinsed it through and it went firm and slightly soggy but I beat the life out of it to get rid of excess water.

          However the taste was nice enough to be fair to it and I'd go as far to say I enjoyed it. It does need seasoning to bring out the natural flavouring which is wheat semolina (as advised on the back of the packet and butter) but I found it to be light on said flavour, could eat it with virtually anything and I found the recommended 50g serving more than enough because it over doubled in size through cooking.

          I was left feeling no hunger and fuller for longer and energised. It's a healthy, versatile and clean, fresh tasting food. You can fry off some vegetables add that to it, course add soy sauce, citrus fruit juices and herbs and spices to add more flavour if desired. I had my couscous with grilled chicken and simply added a drizzle of olive oil and pepper to it for a very quick and filling meal. I think it's great but do realise it's an acquired taste!

          Nutritional Information....Per 50g Serving....

          Calories:185g
          Sugar:1.4g
          Fat: 0.6g
          Saturates: 0.1g
          Salt: Trace

          Only available in Tesco and this packet cost me 60p and contains 10, 50g servings.

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            09.04.2009 15:38
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            So cous cous can be your friend, it is good for you and can be very tasty

            A 500g bag of healthy goodness for under £1 is a pretty good deal, and the Tesco variety in my opinion is probably one of the best. As an alternative to potatoes, rice or pasta, people often do not know how to use it, but really Cous Cous is very easy to use and can be very tasty.

            A typical meal that I cook is as follows. Grill some bacon, boil some green beans. Whilst that is cooking, open a tin of sweetcorn. Then pour half the 500g bag of cous cous into a glass bowl (so essentially you are using 250g), boil some water, then add 400ml of water and stir with a fork, cover with cling film. Then you have five minutes to finish off the bacon, cut up, then strain the green beans, cut up small. After the cous cous has been soaking for five minutes it is ready. Uncover and mix with a fork, then mix in your other ingredients with some onion and garlic salt. You're good to go.

            Sometimes I add a tin of chopped tomatoes to the mix. Or you can add variety and do a chicken version. Another easy one is to defrost some cooked prawns, chop up some spring onions and mix that in, nice and refreshing that version.

            So cous cous can be your friend, it is good for you and can be very tasty.

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              19.01.2009 23:49
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              Definitely worth a try.

              I'd like to share my latest craze with you - tesco couscous.

              Couscous are small granules of dried semolina, originating from Mexico. Couscous is enjoyed all over the world.

              Couscous bought from the average supermarket has been pre steamed and then dried. Couscous is cooked by adding boiling water; the small couscous granules swell to three size their original size. With the average bag costing less than a £1 this is a cheap way to eat.

              I enjoy couscous with a salad for lunch most days. I live to flavour my couscous with coriander leaves and lemon juice.

              I cup of couscous has 176 calories and 0.3 grams of fat. Couscous contains no cholesterol. I'd therefore say it's healthy.

              This is my favourite couscous recipe -

              200 grams of couscous
              3 table spoons of chopped coriander
              ½ small onion
              Juice of a lemon
              2 table spoons of sesame seeds
              Salt and pepper to taste

              To cook, simply cover the couscous in boiling water twice it's original size, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

              After 5 minutes add the remaining ingredients and enjoy!

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              23.05.2008 17:13
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              Worth trying if you fancy something different for a change. You might love it like I do!

              Tesco couscous comes in a see through plastic back with a resealable top. It is extremely good value as you get 500 grams for about 85p (I can't remember exactly what I paid for this last week.)

              Couscous is durum wheat semolina and it is eaten in Morocco and other Mediterranean countries. However, when I say semolina, don't imagine that this is like the semolina pudding that was widely know for being sticky enough to paste wallpaper to the walls. This has more texture and it is in the form of tiny grains which are highly absorbent.

              This product really expands in water, or stock, so a 50gram portion weighs 113 grams when cooked. This makes it very filling. It takes about 7 minutes to make.

              All you have to do, according to the instructions is to put 250mils water into a pan and add a tablespoon of cooking oil. Then add 200grams of couscous, stir, cover and remove from the heat until the liquid is absorbed. Add a knob of butter if you wish and season to taste. Cover again and heat gently for 3 minutes. Then separate the grains with a fork.

              I haven't found it neccesary to go to all this trouble. This grain is much more easily prepared by placing 200 grams couscous into a bowl and adding 250mils boiling water. Add butter and seasoning if you wish and then cover the bowl. Leave for around ten minutes and separate the grains with a fork.

              If you eat this by itself it is very bland so you might want to soak it in beef, chicken or vegetable stock and serve with vegetables, chicken, pieces of beef. You can also serve it with fruit if you cook in water instead of stock, or mix it with honey and lemon. I have eaten it for breakfast with milk and honey and it's lovely. You can also make it into a salad with lemon juice, tomato and onion. Just use your imagination, or find a recipe for a couscous dish. There is a category for this on Dooyoo, or search the internet.

              Nutritionally, this grain provides the following:

              Per 50 gram portion cooked in water.

              160 calories
              0.5 grms fat
              0.4grms fibre
              trace salt

              It has no artificial colours, flavourings, or sweeteners.

              So, this grain has everything from versatility to healthy nutrition. I also find it very filling so it will help me to lose those few extra pounds that I've put on over the winter. If you haven't tried it, it might just be worth a go. I'm really glad that I did.

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                08.11.2007 11:51
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                Wonderfully versatile food that is very easy to prepare

                I first ate cous cous when I was living in Brazil, it was made from ground sweet corn or rice. This is a different type of cous cous than the one usually purchased in UK supermarkets. Here cous cous is the type that originates from North Africa and is made from wheat .

                Traditional North African cous cous is a food of Maghreb or Berber origin and takes hours of preparation. This involves grinding, rolling and shaping large grains of hard moistened semolina wheat after mixing it to the correct quantities of water. It is then coated with finely ground wheat flour. Finally it is put through sieves and left for a few days, usually to dry in the sun. The finished product appears as spherical granules of about 1 mm. Fortunately the stuff we buy is a available in a ready made formula and needs very little preparation. The recent purchases I've made from Tesco's have come in a simple transparent plastic bag. There are two quantities available: 500grams and 1kg.

                It is advised that cous cous should be stored in a cool dry place within an airtight tin or container once opened. I usually just leave it in the packet and it seems fine enough to me. You'd be surprised at how far a 500 mg packet lasts. A small bowl full can really fill you up. It is supposed to be a good source of protein.

                The instructions indicate that you add half a 500gm packet to an equal amount of boiling water in a saucepan and mix in a little salt and a tablespoon of cooking oil. Stir it gently before removing it from the heat. You then leave it for 3 minutes to absorb the water. Add a table spoonful of butter and return it to the heat for a further 3 minutes. Before serving make sure you fluff up the grain with a fork in order to separate the grains.

                I often use a much simpler preparation. Pour some cous cous into a bowl and add boiling water so that the water is about half a centimetre above the grain. You then wait three minutes for the grain to absorb the water and then mix in some butter. Sometimes I have cous cous as a last resort of a morning when I've ran out of breakfast serial.

                Cous cous is like rice or pasta, there isn't a lot of taste and it depends on what you serve it with. On the packet it suggests it can accompany fragrant vegetable, lamb or chicken stew or it can be served as a simple salad with tomatoes, herbs and olive oil. I think it goes nicely with salads and with a little lemon juice added. I also have it with honey or jam and butter. Experiment and do what you like!

                Current price at Tesco's is 80 pence for a 500 mg bag.

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                  07.08.2007 11:00
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                  Good healthy food

                  I first tried couscous as a student on a French exchange programme. Being unfamiliar with the food, I found that this couscous stuff was something I liked. This meant I ate quite a lot of it! The stuff I had then was lemon flavoured and I was quite surprised when I came back to the UK to find there were other verities.

                  As an adult and a keen sportswoman, couscous has now become a valuable part of my diet. Since turning vegetarian, it has also become one of my essential sources of protein. Tesco are always quite good for the basics and I find their couscous plentiful, cheap and easy to cook.

                  Why is couscous so good?

                  It is a great source of slow-release carbs, which mean you feel full for longer and get a good steady source of energy.

                  It is a great source of protein, something vegetarians especially need to think about in their diet!

                  It’s low in fat, and we all know why that’s a good thing!


                  A food for all seasons

                  Couscous is also very versatile. It can either be the main component of a dish or part of a salad. It can even be an alternative to rice, pasta or potatoes as part of your main meal. My particular favourite is couscous with roast vegetables in a tomato sauce. Lovely. Best of all though, it can be eaten hot or cold, which makes it ideal for a packed lunch as well as a main meal.


                  Preparation
                  It might seem quite confusing at first, but once you have done it a few times, you’ll get the hang of it! I find it best to boil a modest amount of water in a pan with a small amount of olive oil, add the couscous once it is boiling and simmer for about three minutes. Don’t worry if there is still more water than couscous! Next cover it and leave for a few minutes. When you come back, all excess water should be gone. Return to the heat and separate the grains with a fork. If you want, add a tad more olive oil at this point too, or just mix in some cooked vegetables.

                  Price
                  Pound for pound, this is a cheap food!

                  Overall
                  A good healthy food packed with slow release energy and protein. Ideal for sportspersons and vegetarians.

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                    10.11.2005 16:39
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                    Tasty, versatile, quick and nutritious!

                    I first became obsessed with couscous about three years ago.. I had orded my shopping online and I was given a pack of couscous as a substitution.. and since then I've been hooked! Right now, as I write this review, I am tucking into a couscous and pinenut salad. Let me explain why the teeny tiny couscous grains are so good for you (especially if you're a vegetarian like me!) Couscous is absolutely delicious and so nutritious...

                    *****Nutritional Properties

                    1. Good source of protein

                    Protein is essential for growth (especially children and pregnant women), tissue repair and to make enzymes and hormones. Men need about 44 - 55g a day and women need about 36 - 45g of protein each day. 100g of couscous can provide 15.1 g of protein, and when you think about it in terms of percentages, that's just over 15% which is amazing. A slice of wholemeal bread contains only 3g of protein. Obviously meat is rich in protein, but if you're vegetarian you need to look for alternative sources of protein, and couscous is one of the best.

                    2. Low in fat

                    Not only is couscous an excellent source of protein (especially for pregnant women, children and vegetarians) it is ideal for people on low-fat diets. 100g of couscous contains only 1.1g of fat, and ONLY 0.2g of saturated fat!

                    3. Good source of energy

                    A 100g serving of couscous contains approximately 365 calories and is rates as 'Medium' on the Glycaemic Index (GI) so it is a good source of slow-release energy, that will keep you going throughout the day.

                    *****Taste

                    Couscous has a subtle taste, which I find to be slightly nutty. The taste can be enhanced by mixing with dressings, lemon juice, adding herbs like basil and parsley, and seasoning. However, I find the taste quite pleasant without any of these extras. Couscous can, however, be quite dry so it is usually a good idea to stir in a small amount of olive oil to make it more moist. I find that adding a chopped juicy tomato to my couscous salads help as well. The texture is quite grainy but once the couscous is cooked it becomes quite soft and fluffy.

                    *****Versatility

                    Couscous can be used in so many ways. I'll tell you a few of my favourite recipes:

                    *Couscous mixed with olives, cashews and cherry tomatoes
                    *Couscous with watercress, feta cheese and radish
                    *Mediterranean Pinenut Couscous salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and baby spinach
                    *Roasted peppers mixed with couscous
                    *Couscous drizzled with fresh lemon juice

                    The possibilities are endless... In addition to the above ideas, I generally use couscous in the place of pasta and potatoes, and always mix it with some olive oil for flavour, and add some herbs.
                    I like the taste of plain couscous (I find it has a subtle nutty flavour) but for those of you that like stronger tasting foods, you could try drizzling a vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar, mustard and seasoning) over the top.

                    *****Preparation of Couscous

                    On the back of couscous packets, they always tell you to gently heat the couscous in a saucepan with water for a few minutes, then cover and remove from heat when the water is nearly absorbed.. Personally I don't do this - there's no need to create so much washing up! I just take a serving bowl and add the desired amount of couscous (I find that half a cup per person works well) and cover with boiling water. The aim is for all of the water to be absorbed, and for the couscous to swell, so I find it's usually better to add too much water than not enough, otherwise your couscous will not cook and will remain hard and crunchy. You can eat your couscous hot, or let it cool down and eat it in a salad, cold. One of the bonuses of couscous is the short preparation time - I make my salads in about 8 minutes in the morning, and I know I have a nutritious meal ready for lunch time.

                    *****Price

                    A 500g bag costs 82p, and I find this can do about 5 or 6 servings, so that works out as roughly 15p per serving, which is fantastic value for money. (Perfect for poor students who need some nourishment!)

                    *****Packaging

                    Tesco have recently repackaged their couscous and it now comes in a strong see-through plastic pack, which is convenient because you can actually see the couscous on your shelf, rather than just seeing lots of packets that all look the same!

                    *****Conclusion

                    Couscous is nutritious, low in fat, cheap and oh so versatile. I would recommend this product to anyone who wants to try something new and tasty. Perfect for children, vegetarians, pregnant women, and basically everyone..! I'm competely hooked on it, and you will be too if you give it a try.

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                      20.06.2005 20:37
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                      Several years ago we spent a Christmas and New Year in Tunisia. It was a very different way of celebrating the festivities, and included being in the sea on Christmas Day! We discovered many new things, in this very different continent, we learned to haggle, to say “NO!” to the offers for our daughters and to eat some strange looking and delicious foods.

                      One food item we came across was Couscous. The plainest of plain hard wheat, how boring it looked, but with some thought a very filling and versatile product and a great stand-by to have in the cupboard.

                      We went on the trips organised by the Reps. Needless to say we learned the hard way and rarely do them now as more experienced travellers! But this one was fun and we tried out different foods and had an evening’s entertainment in a so called Bedouin Tent! We discovered that the Tunisian women prided themselves on how they prepared the couscous. It seemingly took hours of work, rubbing and rolling the large grains of hard wheat semolina and some water was needed to get it to stick together, it was put through sieves and left several days in the sun to dry. Goodness knows how much sand got mixed into it! It had to be steamed often over the meat and vegetables which were stewing to go with the couscous and broken up with a fork to separate the grains. The steaming was very important and it was steamed two or three times.

                      You’ll be very pleased to discover, or probably have already! That we can buy couscous now that is prepared and needs very little steaming. In this busy life style we lead we haven’t got time to do all the preparation that the Tunisian women had to do.

                      I shied away from buying it at first thinking it took hours of preparation, but decided to give it a try and was so pleased to find a really quick alternative to rice and pasta. I buy Tesco Couscous, and I’ll forgive you if you’ve missed it on the shelf!

                      * PACKAGING *
                      The bag is a very plain light brown plastic, with a black and red label, and a rather non-descript picture of some couscous and vegetables. It contains 500grams of “Steamed and dried granules of durum wheat semolina”. On the back is the Best before date – mine is April 2005, so it has a good long life, in case it gets pushed to the back of the cupboard and lost!

                      *INSTRUCTIONS *
                      The suggestion is to add half the packet to an equal amount of water, which has previously been heated with a little salt and a tablespoon of cooking oil. Stir gently, remove from the heat and cover with a lid and leave for 3 minutes to absorb the water. Add 2 or 3 knobs of butter and return to the heat for 3 minutes. Separate the grains before serving.

                      *CONTENTS*

                      Small hard grains of durum wheat semolina, not much smell, and certainly not much taste until flavourings are added. Pale yellowy in colour.

                      *STORAGE*
                      It should be stored in a cool dry place, and once opened placed in an airtight tin or container.

                      *NUTRITION*
                      On the back of the packet it gives the amounts of calories etc in 100gr, it has 363 which seems a lot but not many people will eat 1/5th. of the packet at one time! There is 15.1g of Protein and only 1.1g of Fat. Now this might sound good but dieters remember if you follow the instructions you are adding extra oil and butter!! I’ll give alternative suggestions later! Suitable for Vegetarians.

                      *SUGGESTIONS FROM PACKET*
                      It states that Couscous is the staple part of the North African diet, and the couscous grains are accompanied by a fragrant vegetable, lamb or chicken stew. Or can be served as a simple salad with tomatoes, herbs and olive oil.

                      *COST*
                      My bag was only 80pence, and will probably do our family of 3 two meals. I say probably as it depends who is cooking and how hungry people are!

                      *OTHER IDEAS*

                      As the couscous is so plain it does need lots of flavour to make it tasty. I like to add stock or a mixture of stock and white wine instead of water. Apple juice is an alternative if you don’t want to add alcohol. Fresh herbs are nicer than dried if you have them and can give it a different slant. Some grated lemon rind gives it a zing, especially nice, when serving the couscous cold as a salad, with prawns, cucumber and baby tomatoes. Flavoured oils added instead of butter help to vary your diet.

                      It is very easy to make and so quick and can be served instead of rice or pasta with lots of things, do try it!

                      *QUICK DINNER*
                      And lastly one of my favourite quick meals.

                      Apricot Chicken Couscous Serves 2
                      2 chicken fillets 1 chicken stock cube
                      Olive oil 1 tblsp.Apricot Jam
                      1tsp. Ground Cumin 4oz. frozen Green beans
                      1 tsp Ground Coriander 12 olives

                      Couscous about 6oz plus olive oil, (wine if liked as suggestion above) and fresh coriander or parsley to garnish if liked.

                      Slice the chicken into pieces and heat oil in frying pan about 1 tablespoon. Add chicken and sprinkle with spices. Turn over and cook quickly on other side. Add half pint of boiling water to pan with stock cube, jam and beans. Prepare the couscous according to directions. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes and add chopped olives. Season carefully with ground pepper and if necessary more salt, it does depend how salty the stock cube is.
                      Test chicken to make sure it is cooked, fluff up the couscous and divide between two plates. Spoon the chicken and beans on top and garnish with fresh coriander if liked. Enjoy the spicy sweetness of succulent chicken with the plain couscous, and be ready to enjoy in less than 20 minutes!
                      Be transported to a warmer country and enjoy this in a Bedouin tent or if you haven't time, make do with using the Dining room table and just pretend!

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