Written By: Lorenza Gil-Kabande
I’ve never been great at cooking complicated meals. I can definitely relate more to Rachel’s cooking skills (from Friends) than Monica’s. When I cook, I usually stick with the same couple of simple recipes. Recently I started looking for new, simple meals that I could recreate, and I came across @greencuisine_by_jands page on Instagram which was filled with inviting meals; the only problem was that there was a lot to choose from and they each had their level of difficulty! Despite the wide variety of choices, I finally decided on the Couscous Mushroom Stir Fry (photo above).
What’s great about @greencuisine_by_jands’s Instagram page is that apart from posting a mouth-watering picture of the meal, they include a list of ingredients, a step-by-step list of how to prepare it, and nutritional facts. I have a very particular diet and having the nutritional information at hand is really beneficial for when I am planning out my meals. Making my food at home gave me control, as opposed to buying store-bought food and not knowing the ingredients or the process they went through. The transparency of the meals’ nutritional facts, gave me that small push I needed to trust that this meal was healthy enough for my diet.
Before I went out to the store, I raided my pantry to see if I already had some ingredients. To my luck, I had about half of the ingredients I needed and set them aside. Then, I headed to my local Trader Joe’s to find the ingredients for this meal. List-in-hand, I made it my mission to find the most organic products in the store. Any grocery store you visit should offer you the vegetables needed to make this recipe, both inorganically and organically grown. I prefer to shop for the majority of my food organic because it doesn't have from pesticides and hormones. (Whichever preference you have for buying produce, I’m sure that your food will taste just as amazing!) In the end, I bought more of each ingredient because I wanted to make sure a couple of my friends could taste my final creation. Shopping for a specific recipe really does make going to the grocery store much more enjoyable.
Once I got home from the grocery store, it was time to start prepping! I made sure to thoroughly wash all my respective ingredients to rid them of any dirt, germs, and pesticides. (Note: studies show that a diluted vinegar solution works best for removing bacteria) The recipe specifies that I should first cook the couscous before anything else. This step was very simple it called for just boiling water with sesame oil, turning off the heat, and then adding in the couscous for about 5 minutes to let them cook. This next step was the most laborious part of the process just because I had a lot to chop. I may be crazy for this but the more colorful my plate is, the more appetizing I find it. Thus, I decided to add some yellow bell peppers to the mix. I feel like adding my own twist to the recipe made the meal look more inviting, and I felt much prouder in the end.
The couscous only took about 5 minutes to make, and I frothed it a little once it was done to give it some more body. I decided to add a little thyme to it so that it could have a little more flavor, and I thought it would compliment the other vegetables. Like the recipe said, I cooked the asparagus on medium heat first before anything else, because those took a little longer than the other vegetables. I then added the mushrooms with the soy sauce and continued to stir so that each individual piece had their own flavor. I finally added the bell peppers and it gave it that pop of color that it needed. Once the vegetables were done, I added the couscous to that same saucepan. I decided to add a little more black pepper and soy sauce than the recipe specified because I added a little more vegetables than planned. Once finished, I put it into a bowl and it was ready to eat!
The first bite was honestly very surprised. I knew that adding a couple more ingredients would make it look more appetizing but it also added an amazing burst of flavor to them! For example, the sweetness of the yellow bell peppers complimented the bitter taste of the green bell peppers. In addition, the thyme that I added to the couscous tied the whole meal together because it gave it that extra “umph” that it needed. In conclusion, I would definitely make this again not only because of the amazing taste but also because of how easy and fast it is to make. In total, it only took me about 15 minutes and the outcome was a delicious and healthy meal. Because I had such a great experience making this simple and delicious meal, I’m definitely more open to making new recipes and exploring different tastes from @greencuisine_by_jands’s Instagram page.
At the end of the day, what made me feel proudest was not that I was able to recreate this amazing recipe (which I was proud about) but that I made the leap to actually make it. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone and make plans to make a change; the hard part is getting up and taking on the task you planned to do. My motto is cliche but is always true: you never know what the outcome will be until you try it. Chefs around the world may not agree with me on this, but I think that if you find a recipe that you want to make, you should definitely put your own twist to it! After all, it's all about what you like and what will satisfy you most.
INGREDIENTS (yields 1 serving):
- White mushrooms (200 grams)
- Green bell pepper (1)
- Asparagus (5 spears)
- Sesame oil (1 1/2 tsp)
- Soy sauce (1 tbsp)
- Couscous (1/3 cup uncooked)
- Dried basil (1/4 tsp)
- Dried thyme (1/4 tsp)
- Garlic powder (1/4 tsp)
- Black pepper (pinch or 1/8 tsp)
- First, cook the couscous. Place a pot in high heat and add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 tsp of sesame oil. Once boiling, add the couscous, stir it with a spoon once, cover the pot, and turn off the heat. Leave standing for about 4-5 minutes and then use a fork to fluff it a bit.
- Chop the asparagus, mushrooms and bell pepper.
- Place a large pan or skillet on medium-high heat and add 1 tsp of sesame oil. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and soy sauce, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Finally, add the bell pepper and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Once done, mix the couscous with the mushrooms and veggies in a bowl. Serve and enjoy!
NUTRITION FACTS (per serving):
- Calories 395
- Protein 19 grams
- Carbs 66 grams
- Fat 8 grams
- Fiber 10 grams
- Sugar 10 grams
- Iron 23% DV (Daily Value)
- Calcium 4% DV