WW Friendly Lunch Idea: Microwave Mug Pesto Chicken Couscous or Cauliflower
Time for another installment of Weight Watchers 20 Minute Lunches.
We began this little series two weeks ago with an easy and delicious Trader Joe’s Easy Asian Chicken Salad that was a big hit with our Facebook fans.
Last week while Peter was off galavanting in Australia, I made this really yummy 4-Ingredient Microwave Mug Apple Pancake Puff
from a fun new cookbook…
250 Best Meals in a Mug by one of my favorite cookbook writers, Camilla Saulsbury. The book is brimming with perfect individual, portion-sized recipes for breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks – that all can be made in the microwave.
Check Out These Microwave Mug Recipes…
Super-Fast and Easy Recipes – Mushroom Barley Soup, Broccoli Basil Soup, Apple Pancake Puff, Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Mix, Cheese Fondue
Breakfast Recipes – Banana Bread, Almond Flour Muffin, Green Onion Bread, Zucchini Bread, Apple Cinnamon Bread, Boston Brown Bread
Soups, Stews and Chili Recipes – Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Quinoa Minestrone, Miso and Mushroom Soup, Poblano White Chili, Red Clam Chowder
Meatless Main Dish Recipes – Eggplant Parmesan Mug, Green Chile Quesadilla Mug, Chickpea Potato Masala, Curried Lentils with Yogurt and Tortilla, Cheese Enchiladas
Meat, Poultry and Seafood Main Dish Recipes – Philly Cheesesteak Mug, Cauliflower and Ham Gratin, Shrimp with Roasted Peppers and Feta, Shepherd’s Pie, Teriyaki Salmon
Dessert Recipes – Sugar Cookie, Chocolate Fudge Cake, Blueberry Dumpling, Bananas Foster, Lemon Pudding Cake, Butterscotch Blondie, Panna Cotta.
It’s a great book that I’m having fun testing out. As a Weight Watcher I just wish the recipes included nutritional analysis!
I enjoyed the pancake so much I decided to try another recipe from it to share with Peter and Mom. Then in a sudden burst of creativity, I ended up making two variations: Microwave Mug Pesto Chicken Couscous and Pesto Chicken Cauliflower…
Skinny On Microwave Mug Pesto Chicken Couscous Or Cauliflower
The original recipe called for couscous, canned chicken, pesto and grated Parmesan. I had the idea to substitute finely chopped defrosted frozen cauliflower for the couscous to lower the points plus.
Oh, I also substituted leftover cooked chicken for canned.
Both versions were really good. Even Mom, who had her doubts and showed up with a footlong sandwich from Subway as backup, gave them her hearty endorsement.
I admit to being skeptical when I first heard about cauliflower rice and couscous. I know that it’s been popular for a while now, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I was wrong. Cauliflower couscous is surprisingly grain-like.
No, it’s probably not going to win in a side-by-side taste test with either couscous or white rice, but it’s an acceptable substitute, especially in light of the Weight Watchers SmartPointsPlus savings.
And is a really pleasant way to sneak in another serving of vegetables.
Here the folks at The Kitchn show you the steps by steps of making your own cauliflower couscous. And here’s a great collection of Weight Watchers friendly Cauliflower Rice Recipes.
I substituted defrosted frozen cauliflower in this recipe with good results.
According to my calculations the Pesto Chicken Couscous has 9* Weight Watchers Points Plus and Pesto Chicken Cauliflower has 5* PointsPlus.
Another good option would be to use part couscous and part cauliflower to bulk it up for fewer points.
Chopped jarred roasted bell pepper would make a nice addition.
To keep this dish vegetarian, consider substituting rinsed and drained chick peas for the chicken. Enjoy!
Variations & Substitutions
Vegetarian? Substitute canned garbanzo beans (rinsed & drained for the chicken)
Additions? Chopped jarred roasted bell peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes
Watch this video to see how to make 3 more healthy microwave mug meals:
If you like this easy microwave mug recipe for couscous pesto chicken, be sure to check out my other Weight Watchers friendly recipes including WW Chicken & Quinoa Salad, Healthy Crunchy Tuna Salad, Greek Chickpea + Feta Salad, Hot & Cold Chicken Brown Rice Bowl and Orzo Vegetable Salad
A quick and easy lunch made in the microwave in minutes! You can make this recipe with either couscous or finely shredded/chopped "cauliflower couscous."
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup couscous OR 1 cup "cauliflower couscous**"
- 1/2 can (5 ounces) water-packed chunk chicken, drained and flaked (or 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons basil pesto (I used jarred from Costco)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)
In the mug, microwave the water on HIGH for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until the water is boiling. Stir in the couscous and cover with a plate and let stand for 5 minutes.
Fluff the couscous with a fork. Stir in the chicken and pesto. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute more or until heated through.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
**If you are using "cauliflower couscous," skip the water and just stir the cauliflower, chicken, and pesto in a mug to combine and heat on HIGH for 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired.
Weight Watchers PointsPlus *9 (with couscous)
Weight Watchers PointsPlus *6 (with cauliflower)
Weight Watchers SmartPoints *9 (with couscous)
Weight Watchers SmartPoints *6 (with cauliflower)
*PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® calculated by Simple Nourished Living; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc. All recipe ingredients except optional items included in determining nutritional estimates. SmartPoints® values calculated WITHOUT Weight Watchers Zero Points fruits and vegetables using the WW Recipe Builder.
To Make This Recipe I Used:
More Yummy Quick & Easy Weight Watchers Lunch Ideas from Some of My Favorite Weight Watchers Friendly Recipe Sites:
Quinoa, Chickpea & Avocado Salad (SkinnyTaste)
Easy Couscous with Chicken & Vegetables (TheYummyLife)
It’s All Greek to Me Egg Mug (HungryGirl)
Cauliflower Fried Rice (SkinnyTaste)
Lemony Chickpea & Tuna Salad (EatYourselfSkinny)
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