What are the benefits of Couscous vs. Quinoa

Quinoa and couscous are popular alternatives for products such as rice and pasta. There is a lot of confusion between quinoa and couscous because they share some similar characteristics. Consequently, here we are, talking about the main differences between these two products.

Main differences – Quinoa vs Couscous

Quinoa and couscous are popular alternatives for staple diets like rice and pasta. There is a lot of confusion about quinoa and couscous because they share some similar characteristics. As a result, quinoa is often referred to as couscous or vice versa by most consumers around the world. However, couscous is a traditional North African semolina-based dish, while quinoa is a wheat crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. Edible quinoa seeds are mainly used for culinary dishes. This is the main difference between quinoa and couscous. Both quinoa and couscous have different sensory properties and different applications and this article explores the differences between quinoa and couscous.

What is quinoa

Quinoa is a plant of the goosefoot or amaranth family and originated in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia, where it was grown naturally for its edible starchy seeds. It is classified as a true herb. The small, ivory-colored edible seeds of quinoa are used as food, but they can also be used in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages. The seeds are rich in essential amino acids such as lysine, high quality carbohydrates, a significant amount of calcium, phosphorus and iron. However, it contains bitter-tasting saponins. Quinoa seeds are generally cooked like rice and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. All of these dishes are gluten-free and considered highly digestible foods. Quinoa leaves are also eaten as an amaranth-like leafy vegetable. Nowadays this plant is mainly cultivated in Peru, Bolivia and Chile. 

 What is couscous

Couscous is a spicy dish from North Africa. It is made of semolina and preparation methods include steaming or soaking couscous and incorporating meat, vegetables, or fruit. It is prepared using chopped durum wheat. Couscous is closely linked to pasta, because pasta is ground semolina added to egg and/or water, while couscous is finely ground semolina added to a small amount of water. This is the staple food in some North African countries such as Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Libya. This is also a very popular dish in France, North America, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Some of the similar couscous products may include Wassawassa, Berkoukesh, and Israeli couscous. It can be eaten both as a first course and as a dessert. Nowadays, pre-cooked and dried instant couscous are available in supermarkets.

Differences between quinoa and couscous

Quinoa and couscous can have substantially different properties and applications. These differences can include

  • Definition

Quinoa is a plant from the goose leg family found in the Andes, grown primarily for edible seeds.

Couscous is a type of North African semolina in granules, prepared from crushed durum wheat.

  • Derived plant

Quinoa is derived from Chenopodium quinoa.

Couscous is derived from Triticum durum.

  • Country of origin

Quinoa is native to the Andean region of South America.

Couscous originated from North Africa.

  • Categorization as an edible seed

Quinoa is classified as an edible seed.

Couscous is not classified as an edible seed.

  • How to serve

Quinoa can be enjoyed / served on its own.

Couscous is mainly served with a meat, vegetable or other dish.

  • Protein and fiber content

Quinoa contains more protein and fiber than couscous.

Couscous contains less protein and fiber than couscous.

  • Calorie content

Quinoa contains more calories than couscous.

Couscous contain fewer calories than couscous.

Both quinoa and couscous are delicious and highly regarded culinary dishes. Couscous dishes are mainly derived from wheat, but both quinoa and couscous dishes are also used as a substitute for foods like pasta, rice, or bread.

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