I used to really love couscous, and I still make it pretty frequently because it takes almost no time and is as cheap as can be. But unfortunately, it doesn’t really stack up against the rest of these also-inexpensive, also-easy-to-make grains.
Low in fiber (just 2 grams in a cooked cup? Not great.) and just OK on protein (about 6 grams, the same as bulgur, but substantially less than quinoa), couscous just isn’t the best option. It’s also got almost no iron. And while it’s pretty low in calories, bulgur’s still got it beat.
Sorry, couscous. You’re not terrible, but…you’re not great, either.
Ok, for the record, quinoa (pronounced keen-WAH, for those keeping score at home) is technically a seed, not a grain. But it’s sold like a grain and eaten like a grain and is basically a grain, so it’s included. Also, it’s supremely simple to cook, pretty cheap to buy, and mega healthy. It’s also–and here’s the best part–great for gluten-free eaters!
Quinoa is probably one of the best choices you can make in place or rice or any other actual grain. Because while, as a seed, it has a tiny amount of fat, it also it offers a complete protein, so even in a meatless meal, it’s got plenty of muscle-building material that doesn’t need beans or anything else to make it nutritious. It’s also really fibrous, and has a low glycemic index, so it keeps you fuller, longer–which makes it a great camping or backpacking food. And while it’s definitely not low-carb, the carbohydrate-to-protein ratio is pretty great, so it’s worth it.
Images: marilyn barbone and via Shutterstock