Home ยป Balsamic Strawberry and Chickpea Couscous + Happy Birthday, Lily!

Balsamic Strawberry and Chickpea Couscous + Happy Birthday, Lily!

Half way there, folks! Bring on the weekend! Saturday is supposed to be 72 and sunny in central Ohio! I guess I should go find some wood and knock on it nice and hard.

But with spring…comes allergies. For many unlucky people…me being one of them. Naturally. My yesterday was pretty miserable on the stuffy nose/runny eyes/headache front. By the time I got home and had worked out, I talked myself into PJ’s and out of my weigh-in. Other than feeling like complete crud, I knew I had gained. Physically, I have been DOMINATING the workout front. I worked out 6 days last week and did everything from ice-hockey, to 4 mile runs, to step class, to weight lifting, to stair climbing, to ellipticizing…and FOUR of those workouts were morning time! I have to be proud of that. Unfortunately, my eats have been off track. Easter…birthdays…travel…you get the drift. I think there’s been a little too much of the “I worked out, I can eat a bit more!” mentality. And while that’s (somewhat) true, I don’t have major short-comings in my diet — all my ducks must be in a row to create a loss on the scale.

This is also the perfect opportunity to change my weigh-in day. With upcoming travel, Saturday weigh-ins will allow me to attend meetings in both Chicago and Champaign. I already checked out the meeting times. 🙂 This will also free up an evening which will be nice seeing as Mondays and Wednesdays are accounted for with teaching. Besides, what great motivation to stay on track over the weight loss pitfall of the week: WEEKENDS. We’ll see. Subject to change, but I’m going to give it a go!

My run last night was pretty awesome. I started off at a 5.2 mph pace to warm up for a mile and I bounced around between 6 mph and 7 mph for the next 3 miles. I cooled down with a 0.2 mile walk and finished the 4.2 miles in 41 minutes. For me, that is moving…especially with the warm-up and cool down factored in there!

But let’s move on to the eats! This meal was light, satisfying, and quick as could be to throw together. Of course, Mr. Prevention would probably not find this suitable as a “meal”, but I sure did!! Delish!


Balsamic Strawberry and Chickpea Couscous adapted from Newly Wed, Newly Veg

2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup dry couscous, prepared according to directions
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
salt to taste


Prepare couscous according to package directions.

In a small bowl, combine strawberries, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.

Combine remaining 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with the olive oil, set aside.

Once strawberries have sat, combine couscous, strawberries, chickpeas, basil, goat cheese, and salt — toss well. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar/oil before serving. Yield: 5 cups.

Nutrition Information (per cup): 251 calories; 4.6 g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 190 mg. sodium; 43.6 g. carbohydrate; 5.8 g. fiber; 8 g. protein

Result: Honestly? This blew my expectations out of the water! I knew this would be good, but the ingredients worked so well. I think fresh basil is a must, and you can add as much or as little balsamic vinegar in this as you would like. I love the macronutrient composition with a perfect balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. And the best part? 10 minutes from start to finish, including the time to cook the couscous! I need to make couscous more often! This is served cold or at room temperature, so it would also travel well! Enjoy!



And as the title of this post indicates, today is Lily’s birthday! Today my girlfriend turns TWO! Last year I made her a cake in the shape of a bone, and this year I made her cupcakes! Here’s a sneak peek…the recipe will be up late this week!

Thank you for all of the weight lifting tips – you guys rock! 😀

Question: Do you have any allergies? Food allergies, included!

Off I go!

Share With Your Friends!


  1. April 27, 2011 / 6:23 am

    I love couscous-this recipe looks delicious! I have seasonal allergies, but didn’t come by them until I was 22 and moved to a different state. My doctor says this is very common.
    Do you run marathons or 5k’s? It seems like you run a lot and I was curius as my brother runs at least 1 marathon a month:-)

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 10:52 am

      So funny you say that! I never had allergies before moving to Oklahoma and the ragweed about killed me. I’ve had spring allergies ever since ๐Ÿ™

      I -have- run 2 marathons (4 half’s), but now I just run for fitness and health. I’m not blowing by too many people these days, but I am looking into a few 5k’s this summer ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. April 27, 2011 / 6:56 am

    That would make a great breakfast ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 10:52 am

      For SURE!

  3. April 27, 2011 / 7:47 am

    Very interesting dish! I don’t have any allergies that I know of…I’m very lucky!

  4. April 27, 2011 / 7:56 am

    Awwwww, happy bday Lily!!!

    I think your weigh-in change sounds like a good plan, Nicole! Way to rock those workouts this week! You did amazing!

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 10:52 am

      Thank ya! I hope Saturday weigh-ins and I work out!

  5. April 27, 2011 / 8:05 am

    Mmmm, this couscous salad sounds delicious! And I know Nick would say the same thing, “this isn’t a meal! it’s a side. ” And, yet another thing Nick won’t eat, couscous!!

    Sorry to hear about your allergies. Not to rub it in, but my allergies haven’t been bad this year at all. It’s weird. I can’t figure out why. I need to knock on wood.

    Good work on the workout front! I have been getting into my workouts too, even runn outside the other day (unheard of! But, Nick asked me to run and I have not ONCE seem him run, so I had to go). There must be something in the Ohio air making us all really into our workouts lately (other than pollen) HA!
    Keep up the good work Nicole.

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 10:54 am

      Mark doesn’t like couscous (or polenta) either. Gr!

      I think running with the sweetie in your life is one of the most enjoyable activities there is. Kinda romantic!! Kinda… ๐Ÿ™‚ At least it’s very productive and there’s something very special about doing something good for you with someone you love!

  6. April 27, 2011 / 8:28 am

    Aww, happy birthday to Lily! I love that last pic of her, she’s such a cutie! And the couscous looks seriously phenomenal!!!

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 10:54 am

      Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. April 27, 2011 / 8:34 am

    Happy Birthday to Lily!!! a cupcake….that is so sweet. I bet she gobbled it up faster than lightning!

    My hubby would never consider this a proper meal either…lol meat n potatoes kind of guy he is! lol What can you say…it’s that midwest upbringing.

    I know…it was warm and dry yesterday…..holy cow….we sure do not need more rain…but we are getting some today, I guess.

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 10:55 am

      The recipe made 48, so I think she’s going to have cupcakes for many weeks to come! ๐Ÿ™‚

      This rain is killllling me! Literally! I feel like my head is going to blow up ๐Ÿ™

  8. Maggie
    April 27, 2011 / 8:45 am

    Just have to let you know, that not only is your blog just fantabulous, the birthday pics of LIly made my whole week. She is gorgeous and just all around the picture perfect Bull. How did you guys find this lovely little lady?
    Oh and do you sub anything out when you make tasty num nums for her. I’d love to have the recipe as my Dane, Emma has a birthday coming up too and some pooch cupcakes would be right up her alley. Have a wonderful Wednesday and thanks for being you.

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 10:58 am

      SO sweet! Your comment just put the biggest smile on my face! Miss Lily was a wedding gift. My husband worked with a woman in Tulsa who decided to breed her bully. They ended up having EIGHT pups — 7 girls and a boy. Lily was the hungry one that just loved everyone – we knew we wanted her ๐Ÿ™‚ The recipe is actually made for dogs so it’s very simple — whole wheat flour, honey, banana, peanut butter, and an egg. That’s about it! I was planning to post it on Thursday, so check back then or I’d be happy to email it over to you! Thanks again for your comment…and for reading! You’re a doll!

      • Maggie
        April 27, 2011 / 11:11 am

        Spectacular, I totally look forward to it!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. April 27, 2011 / 9:03 am

    This looks great, and I have everything on hand to make it! I’m on a huge strawberry and goat cheese kick – looks like this will be lunch tomorrow!

    I used to have seasonal allergies, but I’ve outgrown them (can I knock on the same tree you did?). The only allergies I have now are to certain medications. My husband has terrible allergies, seasonal and animals, and also lobster (this makes me very sad!).

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 10:59 am

      I hope you enjoy it!

  10. April 27, 2011 / 9:12 am

    I’ve been pretty lucky on the allergy front. Which really annoys the crap out of my brother- he definitely got the short end of the stick in our family…

    Nice work on all the running! I’m a tad jealous to say the least!

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 10:59 am

      I do hope you feel better soon and get back to running without pain! And just know, I’ll always be jealous of the pace you keep ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m lucky to get under 10 min/mile!

  11. April 27, 2011 / 9:30 am

    Yum, this sounds awesome!! I can’t wait for fresh strawberries to start coming in…Bookmarking this!

  12. April 27, 2011 / 9:50 am

    Aww happy birthday Lily!
    My dog just turned 2 on Apr 13! It seems like everyone’s dog is turning two now. I think Meghann’s (from Meals&Miles) dog just turned 2 too!

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 11:01 am

      That’s funny! I hope no one else’s dog is having a spell of the “terrible 2’s” because Lily seems to be in destruction mode lately. I may not have any clothes hangers in tact here shortly..

  13. April 27, 2011 / 10:02 am

    Happy Birthday to Lily! she is so cute and adorable..love her pics.
    Couscous salad looks great and yummy! Love those strawberries in it..simply delicious..can’t wait to try this…thanks for sharing..have a nice day!

  14. April 27, 2011 / 10:02 am

    Happy birthday to Lilly! I know this is really weird, but when I eat a ton (and I do mean a whole lot) of cheese curls, I break out in hives.

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 11:01 am

      …but who can eat just a few cheese curls? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Melanie
    April 27, 2011 / 10:09 am

    Our dog Ivy’s birthday was yesterday (4/26) and we made her a bone shaped birthday cake. Glad to see I’m not the only one who goes a bit overboard for our furry girl.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and love the Illini/U of I references. Its my alma mater too and I’ve actually stayed around the C-U area.

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 11:03 am

      Happy (belated) Birthday to Ivy!!! Some people say overboard, I just say loved and adored ๐Ÿ™‚

      My husband’s family lives in Champaign so we are back frequently. I miss and love it there so much! Maybe we should meet up some time ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Melanie
        April 27, 2011 / 11:27 am

        Loved and adored for sure.

        I’d be happy to meet up sometime you’re in town.

  16. April 27, 2011 / 10:58 am

    YUM! I might have to try this with farro instead of couscous. Thanks!

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 1:44 pm

      Thumbs way up! Farro is so good!

  17. April 27, 2011 / 10:59 am

    Wow, this couscous looks delicious! So summery! Can’t wait to move into my new house and actually have a kitchen to try this recipe out in!

  18. April 27, 2011 / 1:02 pm

    Thankfully I dont have any allergies but I know plenty of people who do and I know it can miserable! Hope it gets better soon!

    I’m intrigued by this recipe! I’ll have to give it a try1

  19. April 27, 2011 / 1:02 pm

    Happy Birthday to Lily!! Shes so cute, I just love her little face. ๐Ÿ™‚

    That couscous sounds amazing. Im so excited to try it. Pretty sure I have all the ingredients at home already too. Yay!

    Have you tried bee pollen for the allergies? I swear, its saved my life.

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 1:45 pm

      Thank you!

      And Leah, help me out…where might a girl find bee pollen? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • April 27, 2011 / 1:52 pm

        Now that is a good question. Theres this little family run store near my house that sells all natural honey and bee pollen. I found mine there. I’d send you a jar, but its supposed to be local, otherwise its pointless. I guess it helps build up a tolerance.
        I have seen it sold in the natural section of the grocery store too though. You may be able to find it there. You just have to REALLY look. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. April 27, 2011 / 1:41 pm

    Happy Birthday to adorable Lily! LOVE the photos. And LOVE this couscous dish. We are kindred spirits, I JUST make a couscous dish last night for lunch today, but got a “better offer” to go out for lunch, so it’s in the fridge for tomorrow. And I MAY add some strawberries now that I’ve seen your recipe! I cracked up when you said “Mr. Prevention wouldn’t find this a suitable dish”! Holy smokes, my husband would be JUST the same. Have a great day Nicole, I’m SURE the new weigh in day will work well for you!!!

    • Nicole
      April 27, 2011 / 1:47 pm

      Those silly men! I just want to know how they maintain their slim figures with poor attitudes towards lighter meals? ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Liz
    April 27, 2011 / 3:01 pm

    Happy Birthday Lily!

    The couscous looks delish! I’m not sure if my hubby would give it a try…he’s not one for beans (chickpeas included) but I would be more than happy to have it all to myself!!

    My husband is allergic to all kinds of stuff… cats (we have 3), pollen, and fragrances. Poor guy! Hope whatever pollen is bothering you lets up ASAP!

    Nice job on the run! Keep up the awesome workouts!!

  22. April 27, 2011 / 3:07 pm

    This looks so good. I would give it a try with quinoa, which I try to sub in often for couscous. Happy Birthday to Lily! I am allergic to mint (and some other herbs in the same family make my mouth what I refer to as itchy). And I am allergic to some smelly things, like flowers and perfume, but I can tolerate a little. I have a sweet pea and vanilla candle burning now and I like the smell, but I can tell there is an allergen around because I can feel that my lips are puffy. Cleaning products are no good either. It is all respiratory though and not so much dermal.

  23. April 27, 2011 / 5:21 pm

    Love the couscous recipe. I’ve only made couscous once and love how easy and fast it is to make. I’ve never included strawberries in it though, gotta give it a try. Happy Birthday to Lily!! Those pictures are the cutest thing ever ๐Ÿ˜€

  24. April 27, 2011 / 5:42 pm

    Happy Birthday Lily! I was a bad dog mommy and completely forgot about my Lena’s bday this year until like a week later because it was the day after match day and my mind was elsewhere LOL

  25. April 27, 2011 / 10:16 pm

    Happy Birthday Lily!

    I have pollen allergies, specifically to hickory trees which are in bloom right now. I’m also slightly allergic to down and goose feathers but not bad.

  26. April 28, 2011 / 12:18 am

    Hi! Just recently found your blog and love the recipes. I am just finishing my dietetic internship/MS in Nutrition and love reading blogs by RDs. Plus Lily is so adorable ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to read more from you!

    • Nicole
      April 29, 2011 / 8:44 pm

      Thank you for reading & for your sweet comment! I look forward to checking out your blog, as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. April 28, 2011 / 12:12 pm

    Happy birthday to Lily! Our bully Bubba just passed away 2 weeks ago ๐Ÿ™ I am still recovering, but thankful for 9 great years!

  28. April 28, 2011 / 11:44 pm

    Happy birthday to Lily – such cute pics ๐Ÿ™‚

    This couscous is right up my alley and so perfect for spring!

  29. April 29, 2011 / 12:29 pm

    This salad sounds just about perfect! Love the sweet fresh strawberries, tangy goat cheese, nutty chickpeas.

    • Nicole
      April 29, 2011 / 8:38 pm

      I figured this was right up your alley.. ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Pingback: Lily Strawberries

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