It’s important to make healthy choices at iftar and suhoor to ensure you’re consuming the proper nutrients, as well as keeping in check health indicators such as body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and, for those with diabetes, blood sugar levels. The following recipes, developed by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, are balanced and tasty meal options that will help keep you healthy this Ramadan.
Chicken machboos for iftar
Chicken machboos is a popular dish throughout the Arabian Gulf. This recipe replaces salt with herbs and spices to make it a flavourful and healthy iftar choice. Always try to use fresh ingredients, instead of packaged or tinned products, to significantly reduce the amount of salt in your meal. Reducing salt in your diet can help lower your blood pressure or prevent high blood pressure from developing.
500g chicken breast
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 aubergine, chopped
2 dried limes: make a hole through each lime with a knife
½ green chilli pepper (optional)
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 small potato, chopped into big pieces
500g basmati rice, soaked (for about 5 minutes) and drained
1 tbsp rose water
1 tbsp saffron
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
- Remove the skin from the chicken breast and brown it in a pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.Set aside.
- Fry the onions and carrots in a pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until the onions are golden.
- Add the garlic, aubergine, dried lime, chilli pepper and spices (turmeric and cumin). Stir for a few minutes.
- Add the potato and chicken to the pot and stir in.
- Pour enough water into the pot to completely cover the chicken.
- Cover the pot and simmer over medium heat, until the potato is cooked.
- Add the soaked rice and coriander and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, sprinkle rose water and saffron on top.
- Cover the pot and leave it on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is well cooked.
- Garnish with coriander and serve hot.
Ful Medames for suhoor
Ful medames is a popular Middle Eastern dish, typically eaten for breakfast. It has many health benefits as it is rich in protein and fibre, both of which help to keep you full during the fasting hours. Try to use dried beans instead of canned beans to keep salt content low. If you use canned beans, drain the liquid and rinse with water a couple of times to wash away some of the salt. Adding cumin introduces flavour, which can replace the need to add salt to your meal. Including vegetables such as tomato, radish and spring onion adds more fibre, which can help reduce “bad” cholesterol by reducing its absorption in the body.
425g fava beans, preferably dried
1 tbsp garlic paste or minced garlic
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ tsp cumin
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
2-3 medium radishes, sliced
1-2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- If using dried beans, pre-soak the fava beans the night before. If using canned beans, drain the liquid from cans, add water to rinse away the salty canning liquid, and drain. Repeat this twice. The more times you perform this step, the more salt you wash out from the can.
- In a one-litre pot over medium-low heat, add the fava beans and enough water to cover them. Simmer for 10 minutes, if using canned beans. If you chose to pre-soak the fava beans the night before, you will need to bring the pot to the boil for an hour.
- Pour the bean mixture into a large bowl, and add garlic and lemon juice. Stir and smash half the beans with the back of a wooden spoon and leave the other half whole to add texture.
- Sprinkle cumin over the beans, and evenly distribute parsley, tomato, and radishes on top. Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil.
Moroccan chicken wraps for iftar
Moroccan chicken wraps make for a low-fat, appetising iftar meal. This recipe is great for anyone trying to limit their salt intake as the flavour comes from the addition of several spices, which blend together tastefully. Add your favourite vegetables, which will get you nearer to the recommended five portions a day. The wraps are nutritionally balanced and rich in iron, calcium and zinc thanks to the spinach and almonds.
For the chicken
1 chicken breast, skin removed
1-2 tbsp harissa paste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of allspice
1 tsp olive oil
For the wrap
1 large wholegrain tortilla
¼ cup baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp golden raisins
1 tbsp raw unsalted almonds
For the sauce
¼ cup honey-flavour low-fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Cut the chicken breast into strips.
- In a medium bowl, mix together with a fork the harissa paste, cayenne pepper, white pepper, cinnamon, allspice and olive oil.
- Add the chopped chicken pieces and toss well to coat.
- Cook the chicken until slightly charred and cooked through (approximately 15 minutes).
- Arrange spinach leaves in a rectangle in the centre of one tortilla. Leave room around the edges.
- Place chicken on top of the spinach, then sprinkle the golden raisins and almonds on top.
- Mix together the yogurt and fresh lemon juice, and drizzle over the wrap filling.
- Roll up the wrap like a burrito. Slice in half on a diagonal.