Monday, January 21, 2013

Roasted Chicken, Beet, & Cranberry Salad

Happy MLK Day to you all! Regardless of whether or not you have the day off, I hope this day finds you relaxing and doing well. It is also an exciting day with all of the inauguration festivities on T.V. Oh, what it would be like to be in Washington D.C. today! Maybe someday I will get to go. Although, I think cherry blossom season might be more my sort of weather.

Last night was an evening filled with a powerhouse of super foods. I've been working really hard to clean up my eats lately. While I have not lost much weight, I am feeling really, really good. Not only have I been waking up with more energy, I've been sleeping better, and feel more alert. I guess "invigorated" might be the word I am looking for. I usually get a little depressed during the winter months. This winter, I really wanted to curb that "blah" feeling as my overall resolution is to love myself more and feel happier. When I make sure I get plenty of rest and eat well, it helps. This salad, definitely does the trick.

Colorful, flavorful, and packed with powerful antioxidants and vitamins this salad is worth making. The dressing includes the perfect amount of healthy fat and doubles as a marinade for the chicken. Do not fear the beets my friends! Roasting the beets brings out the sweetest, best flavors. Pair with my Herb Goat Cheese Toast and you've got a very healthy, tasty entree.

Roasted Chicken, Beet, & Cranberry Salad

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons low sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1 pinch herbs de Provence
1/8 teaspoon xanthum gum
Salt & pepper to taste

For the chicken:
4 4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons balsamic dressing mix (see above)
Salt & pepper to taste

For the salad:
4 roasted and sliced beets (see directions for roasting below)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 bag cleaned, organic mixed greens
4 4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped (see ingredients above, preparation below)
Balsamic dressing (see above)

Mix all ingredients for the dressing together in a blender until smooth. Set aside for a few minutes so the xanthum gum has time to thicken and bind the ingredients together.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and pat your chicken breast dry. Place in a large resealable plastic bag. Add 2 tablespoons of the dressing mixture, seal, shake the bag until the chicken is coated, and let the chicken marinade for 15 minutes. Spray a 9' x 9' baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place the chicken and marinade in the dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until a meat thermometer stuck in the middle of one of the breasts reads 165 degrees. Remove from the oven. Let cool for 5-10 minutes or until you can handle and cut the meat.

To prepare the beets, trim the ends of the beets with a pairing knife. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the outer skin off the beets. While the chicken is roasting, roast the beets on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray for 20-30 minutes or until the beets begin to caramelize and darken in color. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes until ready to slice.

To assemble the salad, plate the mixed greens or place in a large salad bowl. Top with the beets, cranberries, chicken, and salad dressing before serving.

* Noteworthy tips: I know I originally said to buy golden beets, but alas there were none to be had. I went to three different grocery stores. I guess beets are becoming more popular. I had hoped to use golden beets, as they do not stain as bad as the red variety. I did not mind my fingers turning a little pink from trimming and skinning them though. The color actually made me kind of giddy and washed right off my hands with a little soap. About the dressing, I know I originally did not have xanthum gum on the list. Xanthum gum is a gluten-free thickener packed with good bacteria which eats natural sugars in foods. Thus turning into a more complex carbohydrate. While it is a little pricey, a little bit will goes a long way in recipes and lasts forever. If you do not have any xanthum gum handy, just omit 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth.

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