14 Jul 2014

Chef Alan talks couscous and bulgar wheat…

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As the Development Chef, I work closely with my colleagues and our suppliers to offer customers a wide selection of tasty meals, and as many great choices of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks as possible.

In the four years I have been with Diet Chef, our menus have expanded and developed quite a bit. We are constantly looking at ways to increase options, improve recipes, and help customers enjoy our food as much as possible.

Let’s talk pots!

You may have noticed that we recently launched a new range of bulgar wheat and couscous pots? I thought I would give you a bit of background on these products…along with some nutritional facts, and a lovely, summery serving suggestion at the end.

For me the pots make a perfect lunch dish, on the go or at home, especially during the summer. They are so easy to prepare, and very versatile – you can experiment and add your own ingredients, depending on your calorie allowance and taste!

But what is couscous and bulgar wheat?

Couscous 

Where does it come from?

Couscous originated in North Africa, where it was traditionally prepared as part of a meat and vegetable stew, spiced with cumin. Found in many cuisines, it’s very popular in the Middle East, Mediterranean countries, France and the UK.

What is couscous, exactly? 

Couscous is small granules of durum wheat / semolina, with added water. Most people think couscous in a grain or wheat, but it’s actually more closely related to pasta.

Why is couscous good for you? 

  • It has no cholesterol, and contains approximately 3.6g of protein per 100 calories, with just 1% fat.
  • It contains fibre, which aids the transit of food through your gut – allowing the body to more effectively absorb nutrients from your food, as well as keeping you fuller for longer.
  • It can be used as a quick, easy & tasty source of protein for vegetarians.
  • It contains the micronutrients magnesium and potassium, which both help to regulate blood pressure.
  • It’s a source of B vitamins, which help the body to utilise energy, form red blood cells and maintain brain function.  
You can find more information and nutrition facts about couscous here.

How to make couscous…

You’ll easily find a whole host of couscous recipes by doing a quick search online.

However, cooking it is very straightforward – simply pour boiling water or stock over it, cover, and then leave for a few minutes. (The Diet Chef bulgar wheat and couscous pots just need hot water.)

Bulgar wheat

What is it?

Bulgar wheat is a result of wheat kernels being boiled, dried, cracked and sorted by size. Any wheat can be used but it is most commonly durum wheat.

It has a slight nutty flavour and tastes great – especially when combined with ingredients like fresh herbs and citrus fruit juice.

Why is bulgar wheat good for you?  

  • It is naturally high in fibre and low in fat. 
  • As it’s a whole-grain wheat, bulgar hasn’t been stripped of any of its ‘good stuff’, compared to refined white rice and regular pasta.
  • It contains the micronutrient iron, which helps make red blood cells and carry oxygen around the body. 

You can find more information and nutrition facts about bulgar wheat here.

Alan’s top serving suggestion...

Our couscous and bulgar wheat pots are delicious hot or cold – but personally, I prefer them as cold salads…here’s my top serving suggestion:

Make the couscous as per the instructions on the pot. When ready, fluff the bulgar wheat and couscous up with a fork and transfer into a sealed container – chill until cold.

Add fresh, chopped herbs, roasted or cooked vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, feta cheese and olives – whatever floats your boat!

Finally, add a tiny bit of oil and a splash of lemon or lime juice, to give it some extra zing. Serve with crisp salad leaves, or on its own.

Enjoy!

Alan Mathieson 
Development Chef at Diet Chef

You'll find all three couscous and bulgar wheat pots on our lunch menu (provided none of them have sold out!) - check them out now!

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