Saturday, July 30, 2016

Delicious Nutritious Smoothies - Ninja or Vitamix?

Smoothies are very popular once again, and why not? They are thick, smooth drinks made of fresh fruit and vegetables pureed with some ice and sometimes diary products. They are delicious, nutritious and refreshing.

Julian's Super Green Smoothies
The smoothie shown above is only 70 calories per drink and tastes really wonderful. It contains no dairy, just fresh ingredients and a little ice. Today I'm sharing a couple favorite recipes including this one, but also helping you decide which blender works best.

Equipment Selection: The big brand name in the equipment category is Vitamix. They are promoted heavily at Costco and other stores with live demonstrations. But are they really worth the $500+ price tag?  Could I just use my old Sears blender instead?

I tested the inexpensive classic blender. The traditional test is called the 'snow test', which means 'can it turn ice cubes into snow?' The answer for my very old Sears brand blender was clearly no. You probably know this if you've tried to make frozen drinks in the summertime with something similar. While it will crush the ice, it leaves chunks of various sizes that won't go through a straw and can't give you that professional restaurant quality blend when making a cocktail that is nothing but liquid flavors and ice.  So it was clear to me I needed a new device. But did I want to invest in the Vitamix?

I have several friends that have the Vitamix and they all reported using them some at first, but relegating them to storage a few months later. It must be tended while it's running and you use the plunger to push food down into the device. You stop and start it on your own to get the correct consistency. I found this takes some practice. The device is quite heavy and really single purpose. At our island home, CalypsoBlu, we have a standard Ninja drink blender. I knew it worked well but wasn't sure if it would do a good job at fruit and vegetable smoothies.

Ready to make a Super Green Smoothie
Online I found several tests and many reviews of the various options. I finally selected the Ninja Blender Duo with Auto-IQ Technology. There are various models, with different attachments, so select any of these so long as it has the Auto-IQ feature. This is a powerful line of blenders that are easy to use. This is because they change speeds and pause and restart all on their own. This permits the contents to sink down toward the blades and the result is a super smooth drink of every kind. It has made perfect frozen margaritas and daiquiris as well as a myriad of fruit and vegetable smoothies. All have been the perfect consistency. I chose the model with the large traditional blender pitcher as well as the smoothie cups of various sizes. As I have a large food processor, I did not select the model that has this, but if you are looking for a single appliance, I would recommend you consider a all-inclusive model like this one. Another nice feature is you can make your drink right in the serving cups and take them with you on the go.    

Julian's Ninja Demonstration Video

Here are two of my favorite recipes. You can really do many combinations and my Nutra Ninja Duo came with a large recipe book. I purchased mine directly from Ninja Kitchen as they come with a one-year warranty there, and Amazon only gave a 90 day warranty. Both sites offered recipe books with the product.

Super Green Smoothie

Ingredients (1 serving)
1/4 cup spinach, packed
1 1/2 inch piece cucumber, peeled and cut lengthwise
6 green seedless grapes
1/2 cup honeydew melon, cut into chunks
1/4 orange, peeled, cut in half
1/4 - 1/3 cup ice cubes

Place all of the ingredients into the small travel cup (18 ounce) in the order listed. Close the cup with the blade attachment. Lock the cup into the blender base. Turn unit on then select Auto-IQ Nutri Ninja BLEND. The machine will do the rest as shown in the video above.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Ingredients (1 serving)
1 banana, peeled and halved
1 cup low-fat milk (substitute almond milk)
2 tablespoons sweet juice (agave or mango work well)
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled

Place all of the ingredients into the regular 24 ounce travel cup in the order listed. Close the cup with the blade attachment. Lock the cup into the blender base. Turn unit on then select Auto-IQ Nutri Ninja ULTRA BLEND.

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