The other day I stumbled across an article on Well+Good titled “7 Vegetables to Buy Canned Instead of Fresh for Easy Weeknight Cooking” (linked here in case you’re interested), which instantly drew me in for two reasons. First? Honestly? I just love a list. There really isn’t much on God(dess)’s green Earth that gets me as excited as data being organized and presented in an orderly, easily digestible format. Second? Honestly again? I’m a little competitive. Hear me out.
While 99.9% of the time, when I see any sort of health- or wellness-related article based around things we all “should” be doing according to some expert, I read them to learn something new. But that 0.1%? That’s the “I just want to read this to verify my habits are already the same as an expert, which essentially makes me an expert so ultimately I’m the best, yay, go me.”
Now…is this mindset hyper self-centered? (yes.)
…completely irrational? (double yes.)
….and just all-around ridiculous? (triple-quadruple yes.)
But the truth of the matter is my sun sign is Aries. I can’t help it—my need to aggressively compete with an inanimate blog article written by a completely unbiased third party is basically written in the stars.
OK, so I’m obviously being (mostly) sarcastic here, but the point of my hyperbolic anecdote is to grab your attention so I can preach (#sorrynotsorry) about how beneficial it is to do the “academic” work behind crafting a healthy lifestyle that (a) works for you and (b) gets—and keeps—you excited. Whether you walk away from this information having learned something new or just confirmed that you are on the right track, exploring wellness-related content that is relatable and interesting is a great way to benchmark your progress, make any necessary adjustments, and introduce new tools and tactics. Now I’m not saying you need to spend hours online reading every Google hit for “healthy eating tips.” But every now and then, make it a habit to actively peruse a great health-oriented website such as PopSugar Fitness, Tone It Up, or the above-mentioned Well+Good. Reading not your thing? Hop on YouTube and binge some great video content from the likes of Whitney Simmons or Abbey Sharp. Gather inspiration, cherry-pick ideas that speak to you, and then go on with your bad self and be your own expert! Develop your own meal plans, create your own weekly wellness schedules, and craft your own workout split/routines! The joy is in the journey, my friends, I cannot stress this enough.
Which brings me back to the aforementioned article. As I was reading it, I was (admittedly very) pleased to see that I actually used most of its suggestions already, though there was one item that was new to me: hearts of palm! While I have definitely noticed these guys when reaching for my standard beans, corn, and peas, I had never given them much thought. Intrigued, I decided to pick up a can and work them into this week’s vegetarian meal.
To give ya the quick rundown, palm hearts are a vegetable harvested from the center of a palm tree. They are low in calories and fat, boast a decent protein and fiber count (4 grams each per one cup), and serve as a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin B6, and zinc. They have a mild taste and are fairly crunchy, which means they are ideal for adding texture to your dishes without needing to make many adjustments to balance flavors. They are also a fabulous low-fat alternative to my usual go-to dish texturizer: nuts, which—though it pains me—I know I need to use sparingly.
As of recent, most of my meatless meals have consisted of some variation on a slaw or salad. This week however, I was craving something a little more comforting, which for me means a warm dish that leans heavier on the grain side than the vegetable side. The palm hearts were giving me allll the exotic vibes, so I gravitated toward the most “worldly” grain I could think of: couscous! I decided to infuse it with a bit of lemon and turmeric for a detoxifying kick (since I basically ate my weight in pizza on Saturday night), add in some veggies and feta cheese, and then finish it off with a healthy, homemade Greek dressing to play into the recipe’s Mediterranean-ness (not a real term, but just go with it). The result was a scrumptious, savory bowl that boasted texture, color, and flavor. Sound bomb? It was. And to think it was all inspired by a little list I happened upon by chance, right?! Recipe is below. As always, thanks so much for stopping by and be sure to tag me if you give this one a try!
Em’s Bomb Palm Couscous
Notes: Such a quick and easy dinner to whip up any night of the week! I know it looks like a lot of ingredients, but the majority of these are simply getting dumped in a mason jar and mixed, so there’s no reason to panic (which is what I tend to do when I see a long ingredient list!). To make it even easier, I actually prepped the dressing the night before and stored it in the fridge. That way, all I needed to do while the couscous was cooking was chop up the other ingredients. The recipe yields four servings, though due to the larger grain composition, I recommend only storing this in the fridge for two or three days after making to avoid any “sogginess” issues.
- 1 cup of Israeli (or pearl) couscous
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 can of no-salt added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1–2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1–2 cups cucumber, diced
- 1 cup canned palm hearts, drained, rinsed, and chopped
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
- 2 tbsps parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsps (for dressing) + 1 tsp (for couscous) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp real maple syrup
- 1/2 (heaping) tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp dried basil
Step 1: Start by cooking the couscous. Bring the water to a boil in a small pot on the stove. Once boiling, add the couscous, 1 tsp lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp turmeric and mix together. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 2: While the couscous is cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients and the dressing. In a large bowl, add the chickpeas, palm hearts, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and parsley. Next, combine all dressing ingredients (lemon juice [2 tbsps], red wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, maple syrup, garlic, oregano, thyme, and basil) in a mason jar and shake vigorously to combine.
Step 3: Once the couscous has finished cooking, add it to the large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Top with the dressing, mixing well until everything is combined. Serve while warm!