Cranberry and Pecan Israeli Couscous

June 3, 2015
Cranberry & Pecan Israeli Couscous - A salad that's a great side .. perfect to bring to a party .. and wonderful for lunch the next day.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words

Thoughts 1

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Watch your words; they become actions.  Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become your character.  Watch your character; it becomes your destiny”     ~ Anonymous

— — —

A powerful reminder over the past year, to guard my thoughts.

For those who may have missed the last post, this is Part II.  To bring you up to speed, I shared a bit about my evolution with weight loss over the past couple of decades, and the reverence for the everyday mental toughness that will always be required

By the time I reached my 40s, although I didn't realize it at the time, the ante had been upped

in a very big way

I found myself in the best shape of my life, with the honor of being a coach and instructor to others, as well as beginning my education in holistic nutrition.  With newfound knowledge in hand, I was exposed to many different experts, each with their version of an eating plan, and I began trying them out

At first, these new ways of eating were exciting, though, after a while, I began to notice something terribly weird was starting to happen

Cranberry & Pecan Israeli Couscous - A salad that's a great side .. perfect to bring to a party .. and wonderful for lunch the next day.

I started thinking about it constantly.

What I'd eaten, and what I shouldn't eat.  What I was going to eat in the next hour, compared with what I'd eaten the hour before. What I should be eating, this instead of that, or maybe that instead of this

All .. of the .. time(!)

The first plan I tried was from Venice Nutrition, as it was being adopted by the gym I love and whose coaching staff I was a part of. The basic premise is to eat a small meal every three hours, with each consisting of roughly equal amounts of carbs and proteins,  with a little bit of fat

I dutifully set timers to remind myself to eat, weighed portion sizes, and modified recipes to bring the ratios in line.  There were a few meals I knew were safe, everything else?  Not so much.  That is until it could be calculated.


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Then came The Plan from Llyn-Genet Recitas, one of many that might eventually be offered to students at Hawthorn to try.  The idea?  A way to expose those of us studying in their nutrition programs, to different eating plans, their founder's materials, how the information is presented, as well as a, peek into their business model

At its essence, The Plan is about discovering which foods, and food combinations may be inflammatory for your body.  The concept is great.  It's the getting there that's a tad bit painful.

One starts with an elimination diet that's as strict as anything I've ever experienced, with a new potentially reactionary food tested every couple of days.  If you fall off the wagon, with even a morsel, it's back to

square one

Cranberry & Pecan Israeli Couscous - A salad that's a great side .. perfect to bring to a party .. and wonderful for lunch the next day.

All of the common-sense approaches that had worked for me over the years were now off-limits.  Replaced with rules such as eat according to the clock, no matter your hunger.  This is your menu for the day, do not deviate

I stopped lunching with my husband and my mom because everything on the menu was potentially inflammatory.  What would happen?

Lunch with friends became awkward.  What are you going to order?  Is it on-plan?  Freudian slips that needed to be navigated

My favorite coffee shop?  I stopped going because there was nothing on the menu I was able to eat anymore, and everything else was too tempting

The more I thought about food, admittedly, the more I simply began to want.  I developed odd cravings for forbidden things like cottage cheese, yogurt, or a homemade English muffin with peanut butter and jelly.

While they all used to be part of my arsenal of healthy eating, now they were associated with


Broccoli Soup 14-600x

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With the guilt, came the tape recorder in my head that told me lies about how bad I was because I'd slipped.  My goodness, when I was caught up in this craziness, it could be horrible and affected everything else in my days.

This constant repetition of negative thoughts, which, while they didn't completely take over other aspects of my life, I was beginning to see it from there.  That is until one day I had a moment of


The kind that happens when we decide to quit the job that's killing us, or cut ties from the toxic relationship we're in, or move from the place that doesn't represent anything about who we are.

I finally had enough perspective to see that none of this was who I was, and certainly living with these kinds of thoughts inside my head was not going to be a long-term


As women, we think about food and body more than we want to admit. When I started to survey my new clients, it was 80% of the time. That's enslavement! If this is you, come in and see me so we can break that obsession and distraction. #foodforthemind #foodcoachla #foodcoachnyc #changeyourmind #freedom

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I read an interesting statistic the other day.  When my food coach interviews new clients, they admit to thinking about food 80% of their day(!)   My first reaction was sadness, although admittedly, I can see all too well how it could happen, creeping up on you slowly before you're able to realize what's happened


I've stopped all of the dietary obsession madness, it took a while of being mindful and developing new habits, but I've made it to a place where I don't intellectualize everything that passes through my lips anymore.

I stopped speaking so negatively to myself, and realized they were simply two diet plans.  For some, they work really well.  For me? Not as much.

The bigger picture of the accompanying spiral of guilt and self-loathing is all a beautiful lie fed to us, and encouraged by the world.

My mind is again quiet and at peace

So, you may ask, how and what are you eating now?

(.. to be continued .. )

Cranberry & Pecan Israeli Couscous - A salad that's a great side .. perfect to bring to a party .. and wonderful for lunch the next day.

Sometimes my husband and I love to walk around Whole Foods on a lazy weekend afternoon.  I can never resist bringing home a few of the things from their deli.  This salad was too good not to be recreated

It's a salad that's a great side, perfect for bringing to a party, and wonderful for lunch the next day.

A note about couscous: Israeli couscous and regular couscous (Moroccan) aren't cooked the same way.  Israeli couscous can either be cooked in a big pot of salted boiling water (like pasta) or boiled in a hot broth.

Regular couscous is either steamed or, in the case of the instant variety, simply mixed with boiling water until it puffed and all of the water has been absorbed



ps:  You can read more about my healthy eating journey in Part I  |  Part III  of this series

— — —

~ Adapted from Epicurious

Cranberry and Pecan Israeli Couscous


  • Salad
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous, uncooked
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, quartered
  • 2 scallions, minced

  • Dressing
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 orange zest (organic is a good idea here)
  • ½ orange, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ Tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the couscous. When it's done (roughly 8-10 mins, or when it's al dente), drain it but do not rinse.
  • Set aside and let cool while you mince the scallions, toast and chop the pecans, and make the dressing.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, orange zest and juice, garlic, honey, spices, and salt and pepper.
  • In a large bowl, combine the couscous, cranberries, pecans, and scallions. Pour the well-whisked dressing over it and toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for a few hours to blend the flavors.
  • Enjoy!
Serves: 8
Nutrition + Show
Calories 334
Total Fat 10.1g
Saturated Fat 0.9g
Carbohydrates 56.4g
Fiber 4.4g
Sugars 17.8g
Protein 7.4g
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  • Reply Ana De- Jesus April 24, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Your right your thoughts can become actions and before you know it form habits that form part of your character. I like the sound of this cous cous and agree that we can sometimes associate certain actions with ‘guilt’ which can be bad for our mental health and physical wellbeing!

    • Reply Betsy Fordyce December 13, 2019 at 6:59 am

      Just a note: “Your” and “you’re” sound the same but, in fact, are not. “You’re” is the contraction of “you are,” while “your” is the possessive of “you.”

  • Reply Cindy S. January 21, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    5 stars
    This Cranberry and Pecan Isaeli Couscous recipe is delicious. Thank you. One tip: I don’t always have fresh oranges in the house (or time to zest and squeeze them), so I keep a can of frozen orange juice concentrate in the freezer and add some of that in place of orange and zest in the recipe. If the concentrate is a little sour, you may have to add a bit more honey but not much. It’s great every time. Also — make sure you use ISRAELI couscous, not the smaller-grain version.

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