Now that the new year has begun and everyone is in full-fledged health mode, this is also the time to remember that sustainably healthy eating should be delicious, fulfilling, and convenient.
Meal preparation doesn't have to be all about that tupperware or steamed chicken. Especially after your body is still likely used to the heartier eating over the holidays, it's more realistic to not go from full family dinners with no holds on the butter to steamed dry chicken and bland asparagus. Eventually, that will usually lead you to dive headfirst into something not so desirable for your health goals-- I think we've all been there! Enter this roasted cranberry orange maple chicken that keeps things healthy but is oh-so-satiating.
I adore make-ahead dinners, whether it be splitting up prep and cooking over two separate nights, or making a big batch of a dish to be able to eat throughout the week. Roasting is the ultimate lazy-girl way to cook a lot of something at once, so my mind wandered to roasted chicken.
Taking inspiration from seasonal produce is also always a great way to switch up the flavors on classics like roasted chicken, along with saving some major dollars. Winter citrus is more nutritious and flavorful than ever, and my sweet tooth has undeniably been a little more aggressive than usual (thank you holiday cookies) so the flavors of this dish was a no brainer.
The flavors of this absurdly simple marinade is just enough sweet and savory, and makes the chicken stay super tender and juicy. Perfect for leftovers, because no one likes dried out chicken!
My trusty Vitamix Pro 780 has been a staple in my kitchen since last year for unbelievably speedy food prep and cleanup, whether it be marinades, salad dressings, soups, purées, smoothies, or whatever. So when Vitamix asked me to give their new Ascent series a try, I was SO game.
The two biggest things that set this new A3300 model apart from my Pro 780 for me personally is the extended 10 year warranty (older models have 5-7 year warranties) and the timer display. I'm a numbers girl and I like specific instructions when trying out recipes that are completely new to me. I mean, how many times have you read a recipe and it says something subjectively vague like, "cook until it thickens up"... which is hard for beginning chefs!
The Ascent Series has a new build-in timer function that lets you see exactly how long you've been blending something, so now I can say "blend at level 6 for 1 minute + 30 seconds," to give precise and easy to follow directions, and also for myself to experiment and see how long is optimal to blend varying things while I'm cooking. You can also program it to stop exactly when you need it to- set it and forget it!
This recipe is so easy because you literally throw the ingredients in the blender, pour over the chicken to hang out and infuse flavors, bake, and you've got dinner and leftovers! This is also a fantastic dish to make for guests, as it barely takes prep time and feeds a small crew.
Let's get onto it!
Roasted Cranberry Orange Maple Chicken
Serves 3-4 people
2 lb Chicken Thighs or Breasts
1 cup of fresh Cranberries
1/2 medium Orange, peeled
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
2 tbsp Tamari
2 tbsp Maple Syrup
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Sprinkle of Black Pepper
Handful of Fresh Thyme
1 tbsp Maple Syrup + 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1. Place 1/2 cup of the cranberries, orange, garlic, tamari, maple, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in your Vitamix blender. If using the new Ascent series, start on speed level 1 for 10 seconds, then at speed level 4 for 15 seconds, then up to speed 8 for 1 minute until mixture is fully blended and smooth.
2. Place chicken in a baking dish, and pour marinade to coat thoroughly. Cover dish, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes minimum (or overnight). If cooking ASAP, preheat oven to 365ºF while chicken marinates in the fridge.
3. Remove chicken from the fridge, sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme, black pepper, and the rest of the cranberries over the chicken. Place dish in the oven for about 25 minutes.
4. Remove from oven, and brush the maple + balsamic glaze mixture on top of the chicken. Put back in the oven and switch to broil function, and broil for 5 minutes until the glaze starts to caramelize on top of the chicken.
5. Remove from oven, sprinkle some extra fresh thyme, and serve!
Special thanks to Vitamix for partnering on this post, and thank you all for supporting the brands that support Living Minnaly.
I received the new Vitamix A3300 for honest review, and all opinions are of my own.