The 5-2 Challenge. A Hearty One Pot Dish. Chicken Couscous with Fresh Harissa, Roasted Capsicum and Green Beans.


Another Monday. Another fast day. Made that little bit more interesting with school holidays and a full house. I wanted to do something with couscous for dinner tonight. Couscous is filling, hearty and very, very good for you. Whenever  I think of couscous, harissa also springs to mind. A fiery Moroccan spice paste made with chillies, garlic, spices and a little olive oil. It’s long been known that chillies can help suppress appetite and burn calories. To my mind this hearty one pot dish of Chicken Couscous with Fresh Harissa, Roasted Capsicum and Green Beans is a perfect 5-2 challenge meal.

Here is how my day panned out. I went for a long cliff side walk this morning, meandering from beach to beach and rewarded myself with a small freshly squeezed watermelon and pineapple juice. Successfully avoiding the lure of those cappuccinos. My rather late lunch was cobbled together from a few ingredients I was preparing for dinner. Fresh steamed beans and roasted capsicum with a little balsamic vinegar. The Chicken Couscous was the highlight of the day. Lifted by a  fresh and fiercely spicy  homemade harissa paste.

Breakfast 2 cups tea


10 am Watermelon and pineapple juice


Lunch Green bean and capsicum salad


Dinner Chicken Couscous


8 pm 2 cups tea


Total Calories


Chicken and Couscous with Fresh Harissa, Roasted Capsicum and Green Beans

Serves 5 (360 calories per serve)

1 tablespoon  olive oil (120 calories)
1 onion , thinly sliced (30 calories)
500 g chicken breasts, diced (825 calories)
good chunk fresh root ginger ( 3 calories)
1 tablespoon fresh harissa paste (65 calories), recipe follows
2 capsicums, roasted, deseeded, peeled and sliced (60 calories)
100g green beans, sliced (31 calories)
220 g cooked chickpeas , rinsed and drained (210 calories)
1 1/4 cups (200g) couscous (400 calories)
250 ml hot chicken stock (40 calories)
handful coriander , chopped, to serve (2 calories)
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon (2 calories)

HEAT olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion for 1-2 minutes  until just softened.
ADD chicken and saute for 7-10 mins until cooked through and the onions have turned golden.
GRATE over the ginger, stir through the harissa to coat everything and cook for 1 minute more.
ADD roasted capsicums, beans,chickpeas and couscous. Stir well to combine then pour over the stock and stir once.
REMOVE from heat.  Cover with a lid or tightly cover the pan with foil and leave for about 5 mins until the couscous has soaked up all the stock and is soft.
ADD freshly squeezed lemon juice. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and scatter over the coriander to serve.

Fresh Harissa Paste

Makes 2-3 tablespoons (approximately 65 calories per tablespoon)

4 long fresh red chillies (16 calories)
2 garlic cloves, crushed (8 calories)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin (8 calories)
1 teaspoon ground coriander (8 calories)
1 tablespoon olive oil (120 calories)

HALVE chillies and finely chop.
COMBINE  chilli, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, and olive oil in a mortar and use a pestle to pound until a smooth paste forms.

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7 Responses to The 5-2 Challenge. A Hearty One Pot Dish. Chicken Couscous with Fresh Harissa, Roasted Capsicum and Green Beans.

  1. Vinny Grette says:

    What a delicious recipe. Thanks! I’m passing your site on to a friend who is also learning how to be satisfied and well nourished on fewer calories

    • Thank you. Couscous is very filling but can be bland on its own. The fresh harissa paste made all the difference. Its very fiery so a little goes a long way. Best of all my family didn’t recognize this as “diet” food.

  2. Vinny Grette says:

    I love that you made your own homemade Harissa. And regarding “diet” food, who says healthy dishes can’t be delicious and filling – suitable for a lifetime of eating 🙂

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