Healthy recipe: Ras el hanout chicken with sweet potato mash

Sweet potatoes make an interesting and nutritious alternative to the standard spud.

Sweet potato mash.
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With their orange flesh, sweet potatoes not only make an interesting alternative to the more familiar white varieties, they provide more fibre, are a good source of beta-carotene and also contain vitamins C and E, copper, manganese, potassium and iron.

Sweet potatoes are also rich in complex carbohydrates, which means that they provide a slower and more sustained release of energy than simple carbohydrates (as found in white potatoes). This helps to prevent spikes in blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

Try rubbing whole sweet potatoes with a little olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper and roasting in the oven until crisp on the outside and soft in the centre; split open and serve with a spoonful of natural yogurt mixed with chopped chilli and lime zest. Or, for a healthy alternative to deep-fried chips, cut sweet potatoes into thick wedges, toss lightly in olive oil, add a sprinkling of smoked paprika (optional) and bake in the oven.

As well as being a good source of lean protein, skinless chicken breasts are relatively low in calories; they can taste rather bland, though, and are prone to drying out. Marinating the meat for an hour or two infuses it with flavour and cooking it in stock keeps it nice and moist.

The ras el hanout - a Moroccan spice blend traditionally including cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander seeds and fennel seeds - gives the dish a warming, aromatic kick and adding the coriander to the sweet potato mash at the last minute prevents it from tasting too sugary sweet.

Ras el hanout chicken with sweet potato mash (Serves 2)

1 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1 tsp ras el hanout or tsp ground cumin and tsp ground cinnamon as an alternative

1 tsp clear honey

2 skinless chicken breasts

500g sweet potato, peeled and chopped

100ml chicken or vegetable stock

1 small bunch coriander, leaves picked and chopped

salt and black pepper

Method

Slice the lemon in half. Squeeze the juice from one half into a large bowl, thinly slice the remainder and set aside. Pour the olive oil into the bowl followed by the garlic, ras el hanout and honey and stir well. Place the chicken breasts in the bowl, turn to coat and leave to marinate for at least an hour.

Boil the potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes or until tender. Place a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the chicken and cook for three minutes on each side. Now add any remaining marinade to the pan, along with the reserved lemon slices and the stock. Bring to the boil briefly, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the liquid is slightly syrupy and the chicken cooked through.

Mash the potato, season with salt and plenty of black pepper and stir in the coriander. Divide the mash between two serving plates, place the chicken breast on top, spoon over the sauce and finish with a couple of slices of lemon.

Nutritional information for 141g serving of sweet potato:

Calories: 160

Calories from fat: 22

Total fat: 2.5g

Saturated fat: 0.5g