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Israeli Couscous with Chickpeas, Feta and Toasted Pecans

December 11, 2014

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We are a society of over-thinkers. We generate and process approximately 60,000 thoughts per day, and 95% of them are repetitive from the day before (and the day before that). Seriously. Think brushing teeth, commuting, what’s for lunch, deadlines, etcetera. It’s an interesting fact, but not of much concern until you understand that of these habitual thoughts, 80% are negative. As negative thoughts have the opposite affects on our bodies and health as gratitude does, it’s no wonder that we are so sick and depressed.

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Gratitude is the foundation for happiness. I also suspect that this is one of the reasons why the holiday season can be emotionally difficult for so many. In a time when so much emphasis and thought is applied to what we want (and therefore don’t have), we often forget to stop and be thankful for the blessings right in front of us.

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We all know that gratitude is a positive, healthy practice, but few of us understand the profound effects that practicing gratitude can have. Whether expressed through the spoken word, a note or silent thought, practicing gratitude is scientifically proven to profoundly impact and improve our health and well-being.  Unfortunately, we are a culture who is obsessed with what we don’t have. We want that new car, smart phone, tropical vacation, significant other, dream career and home. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Unless of course you project all of your energy and thoughts towards what is lacking.

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The good news is that just as we are in control of our behaviors, we can regulate our thoughts. Sure, our minds will wander aimlessly, but we can (and absolutely should) conscientiously redirect it when it does. Studies at Harvard, Penn, UCLA, UC Irvine along with several other schools have shown that practicing gratitude even for just a few minutes each morning has proven to improve sleep, reduce cholesterol and stress, heal physical ailments and disease and lead to healthier, happier relationships. There is absolutely no downside to being thankful. Whether it’s using the time in your morning shower or spending a few minutes each night appreciating a few people or events from the day, practicing gratitude is a game changer.

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So in the midst of holiday shopping, wrapping, party-hopping, egg-nogging and traveling, don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate all of the health, beauty and blessings around you.

Wishing you and yours a joyous and happy holiday season!

**Should you be looking for a great side dish for your next holiday gathering or potluck, I hope you’ll enjoy the below!

 

Israeli Couscous with Chickpeas, Feta and Toasted Pecans

Ingredients:

2 cups Israeli couscous

2 ¼ cups chicken broth

1 can garbonzo beans

½ red onion, diced

½ cup feta cheese

½ cup pecans

2 tbsp chopped dill

2 tbsp thinly chopped green onion

3 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon (of ½ Meyer lemon)

1 ½ tsp crushed Maldon salt (or table salt)

Recipe:

Mix 2 of the tablespoons of olive oil with the couscous and stir in a pot over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until they begin to show a golden color

Add the chicken broth and salt and cover, stirring occasionally until fully cooked (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and cover with a lid

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pecan pieces over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring to ensure they don’t burn. Transfer to a dish and set the nuts aside

Add the red onion and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, stir until translucent

Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, red onion, pecans, feta, dill and green onion to the cooked couscous

Stir thoroughly and serve warm

**Also enjoyable chilled or at room temperature, making it the perfect dish for a picnic or potluck!

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