Much has been made of the healthiness of the Mediterranean diet. With its inclusion of healthy fats and avoidance of overly processed carbs, Mediterranean cuisine has challenged the standing of low-fat diets that for so long prevailed among dieters.
Moroccan cuisine shares many of these same qualities that we now value in healthy food. These ingredients are particularly notable for their benefits:
- Healthy oils feature heavily in Moroccan dishes. Extra virgin olive oil, which contains anti-oxidants and the all-important MUFAs, or monounsaturated fatty acids, is used as a flavoring for salads and couscous, and is even drizzled over meats and vegetables. Consumption of MUFAs are a great way to improve the health of your cardiovascular system. Argan oil, the traditional oil used in Moroccan cooking, is also rich in these same compounds and features the additional benefits of reduction of hypertension and improvement of digestion.
- Speaking of couscous, this grain is among the most healthiest in the world, and is low in calories too. One cup of couscous contains 14% fewer calories than rice and a whopping 30% fewer calories than quinoa. It also contains plenty of selenium and potassium, which are trace elements that nevertheless are vital for protecting cells from damage and improving the functioning of the heart, respectively.
- Skip the dessert -- many tagines contain dried fruit and honey, which provide a sweet kick that can make highly-caloric, dense desserts seem unnecessary by the end of a meal. Honey in particular is well-known for actually reducing the symptoms of pollen-induced allergies, among other health benefits.
- The prevalence of vegetables in Moroccan cuisine makes it easy to get your daily quota of servings. Low-calorie salads are often consumed in the sweltering summer months, and dishes such as shak-shouka (tomato and bell pepper) and zaalouk (roasted eggplant) are national staples.
- Legumes are another mainstay of the Moroccan table, serving as a protein-rich alternative to fatty meat dishes. First we have lentils, which contain such an incredible amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber. And don't forget chickpeas. These little powerhouses are rich with numerous compounds that trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, which helps improve moods, increase pleasure and stave off the debilitating effects of depression.
It's not just the ingredients that make Moroccan food so healthy, but also the traditional cooking methods used. The tagine is a clay pot used to make the dish of the same name. It enables the chef to construct a savory stew without the need for oil. Grilling, particularly for kabobs, is another a common method of preparation which is much healthier than frying in oil (and also tastier). Salads are common in Moroccan cuisine as a refreshing appetizer that's low in calorie, yet bursting with flavor from olives, preserved lemon and judiciously-applied fragrant oils.
Who knew that healthy food could be so delicious? If you find your appetite whetted by the prospect of a flavor-packed, nutrient-rich Moroccan feast, we here at Kous Kous are ready to serve. Make your reservation with us today and enjoy a guilt-free dinner experience straight from the coast of the Mediterranean.