Thanksgiving Couscous

In case you’re looking for a healthier alternative to the bread stuffing we all know and love, here’s a recipe I created for “Eat, Drink and Be Healthy!” a continuing medical education bootcamp I was excited to present at last week at the Palo Alto Medical Clinic.  I did a cooking demonstration of healthier Thanksgiving side dishes, including this recipe.   This whole wheat couscous with Thanksgiving flavors is a higher fiber, whole grain alternative to traditional bread stuffing. Using olive oil instead of the usual butter used in stuffing adds body and flavor with less saturated fat. The onions, fresh herbs and spices in this recipe provide a lot of flavor without a lot of added salt. The pumpkin seeds add texture and are an excellent source of magnesium, potassium and protein. Compared to regular stuffing, this recipe has 30% less sodium, more than double the potassium and about 10 times more fiber. Compared to regular couscous, whole wheat couscous provides 50% more fiber. It’s also a good source of iron.  For your vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving guests, this would make an excellent entree as a filling for roasted acorn squash.

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Whole Wheat Thanksgiving Couscous (the stuffing alternative)


1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh flat Italian parsley, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

2 celery hearts, thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)

¼ large onion, minced (about ½ cup)

½ cup pepitas (raw green pumpkin seeds)

1½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground nutmeg

black pepper (a few grinds on a peppermill, or to taste)

1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups water

2 cups whole wheat couscous

½ cup sweetened dried cranberries


1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add in prepared herbs and vegetables with ½ tsp salt and the nutmeg. Cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent.

2. Add pepitas and cook for a minute, until their color changes from green to beige. Take off heat and remove the bay leaf, reserving it for the next step. Set aside.

3. In another pot, combine water with the reserved bay leaf, the remaining 1 tsp of salt and remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Stir until salt is dissolved. Bring to a boil.

4. Turn off the heat, add the couscous and cranberries, and stir until combined. Cover the pot and allow the couscous to sit for 5 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.

5. After five minutes, uncover the pot and fluff couscous with a fork.

6. Add the herb and seed mixture and stir.

What are you making as side dishes on Thanksgiving?

In case you’re looking for more ideas:

For other healthy Thanksgiving sides:

Gateway Brussels Sprouts

Vegan Cornbread (the second recipe in this post)

For more Thanksgiving recipes:

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Chinese Sticky Rice and Sausage Stuffing

Corn and Maple Spoonbread

Magically Moist Cornbread

Spiced Pumpkin Flan

And thinking ahead, for your leftover turkey:

Gratitude Fried Rice

Thank you for coming by– I am grateful to all of you who share in my cooking adventures on Spicebox Travels.  Happy Thanksgiving!

8 responses

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on Doctors Cooking and Some Healthy Recipes– Read Me on Culinate | spicebox travels

  2. Pingback: Healthy(er) Thanksgiving Treats | 365 Hangers

  3. Pingback: Spiced Cranberry Apple Crisp, Thanksgiving Dessert with a Twist | spicebox travels

  4. Pingback: Healthy Thanksgiving: a Cornucopia of Vegan Sides | spicebox travels

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