Lose that, eat this: chicken shawarma

Make your own shawarma style marinated chicken kebab and you can enjoy the flavour without feeling like you've overindulged.

credit: istockphoto.com

Shawarma might be an easy snack or dinner to grab on the go, but it is far from a healthy one. The marinated strips that are shaved off from the rotating cone of meat already have fat running through them, and more likely than not, they will have been doused with yet more during the cooking process. The meat is also heavily seasoned, meaning that sodium levels are high. Slather your shawarma with traditional accompaniments and things only get worse in the health stakes: hummus and garlic sauce are both high in calories, as are the french fries that you often find nestled in the mix.

Make your own shawarma style marinated chicken kebab though and you can enjoy the flavour without feeling like you've overindulged. Chicken breast contains less fat than the darker leg meat and cooking the kebabs quickly under the grill (after being marinaded in yoghurt), means that you don't have to add extra fat to keep the meat moist. Serve in wholewheat pitta bread, with plenty of fresh salad ingredients and a sauce made from low fat yoghurt and you've got yourself a nicely balanced meal.

Healthy chicken shawarma

Serves two

For the chicken:

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons malt vinegar

1 teaspoon groundnut oil

teaspoon ground cardamon

teaspoon mixed spice

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

150g low fat natural yoghurt

180g organic free range chicken, cut into slices about 1cm thick

For the sauce:

1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)

150g low fat natural yoghurt

1/2 garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped

1 tbsp lemon juice

To serve:

wholewheat pita bread

head lettuce, shredded

3-4 tomatoes, thinly sliced

onion, peeled and thinly sliced

assorted pickles

salt and pepper

4-6 skewers, (if using wooden ones, then soak them in warm water for 20 minutes first)

Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, spices, garlic and yoghurt in a bowl. Add the chicken and mix well. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to marinate for at least two hours, overnight if possible. Preheat the grill to medium/high. Shake some of the marinade off from the meat, thread the thin chicken slices on to skewers and cook under the grill for 4-5minutes on each side - you want the chicken to be cooked through, but not dry. To make the sauce, whisk the tahini, yoghurt, garlic and lemon juice together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Warm the pita bread in the oven. Carefully remove the meat from the skewers and arrange in the middle of the bread, add the lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles and drizzle the tahini sauce over everything.

An average chicken shawarma contains:

Calories 475

Total Fat 13.2g

Total Carbohydrate 48g

Protein 41.6g

Source: www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/nutrition-calories/food/generic/chicken-shawarma/#ixzz14yC257qt