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Carbohydrates Why has it become such an evil word? The brain needs them, our liver stores the byproduct of carbs as glucose for steady blood sugars and  we love em! In shopping sprees, I have come across a whole new lines of cho ( chemistry short cut for carbs!) in the grocery aisle. We have quinoa mixed with rice, couscous, red lentils, and a gluten free low carbohydrate seed not a starch-wild rice. Its not a grain but a grass seed, fostered by the American Indians in the Great Lakes region. More on this type of seed in the upcoming blogs.

I’ll start this series with  couscous, though with gluten, it is a great alternative to pasta or rice. The mixtures of chickpeas and couscous are a great side dish with golden raisins, lemon and mint. The Israeli couscous or Ptitim as it is called or Fregola in Sardinia, is a starch, much like tiny couscous and is larger pearl like, with 1 cup cooked providing 170 calories and 36 grams of carbohydrate (like a little over 2 exchanges for diabetic meal planning)  no fat and 6 grams of protein. Why I like it? Bigger couscous is “toothier” and more substantial as a side or in soup..

The smaller couscous version is wonderful and I love it with Moroccan or vegetable stews where there is a lot of sauce.

A glycemic index of 61 for couscous makes it a great starch alternative to 1/2 cup of potatoes cooked.  With a GI of 90, potatoes also have much more glucose to raise blood sugars. So try this dish with your next meal! Add veggies, shrimp or chicken for a main dish.

The Recipe

  • 1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous

  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • juice of 2 lemons

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

  • zest of 1/2 lemon

  • 2-3 tablespoons of honey

  • 1/2 cup drained and rinsed canned chickpeas or cooked chickpeas

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (soaked in 1/4 cup of water for an hour and drain)

  • 1/4 teaspoon of harissa, Moroccan spice paste or a pinch of  cayenne pepper


Cook the Israeli couscous according to directions. Drain couscous and set aside aside.  Mix together the vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon zest, honey, lemon juice, herbs and harissa.  Mix thoroughly with the chickpeas and serve.