Sunday, May 11, 2014

Scrumptious Smoothies and a Blendtec Review

I've always liked smoothies, and when the weather gets warm I often forgo my usual lunch fare and begin blending up all kinds of smoothie combinations. Smoothies are great; they're portable, I can drink them on the go, the cold drink is perfect in the summer when it's often too hot to eat much, and when fruit is in season it is a great way to take advantage.

The arrival of the Blendtec to my kitchen just sped up the process. This is one incredible machine, let me tell you. When I plugged it in and screen lit up, I may have squealed.

will it blend
Yes, I've used it a lot. It keeps track of your blends!

Smoothies have become an every day event in my house, now. I make myself one to take to work, and then Kevin wakes up and drinks the other half for breakfast. If I forget to make one or choose not to, he now slyly asks me to make him one after dinner.

I think smoothies are pretty personal; a little bit chunky or super smooth, a bit sweet or even green with spinach in it, what your favourite smoothie is depends on you. I've learned a few things in my own smoothie experimenting over the past few weeks.

1. I love berry smoothies. Blueberries, especially. Cherries, even more so.  The Blendtec also whips those babies up so much that I don't have any bits of blueberry or strawberry seeds left to get caught in my teeth, which is a bonus. With strawberry season starting up here, I plan to get a big flat at the store to slice and freeze. Most fruit, in fact, can be processed and put in the freezer when I find it on sale (bananas, mango, pineapple, various berries). It's a real bonus when you have a lot of fruit that you can't use up too quickly. To make my mornings quick I peel and chop the fruit the night before a put it in the freezer, all ready to go into the blender when I'm in a hurry!

Frozen cherries were hard to find, but I finally scored some at Superstore in Chilliwack. I found the smoothie quite thick so the next time added some apple juice and a few strawberries to make the cherries stretch a little further.

cherry smoothieCherry Banana Smoothie

2. Adding spinach to a smoothie makes it REALLY green. I'll be honest, I'm not really a fan of the spinach in my smoothie thing. Sure, it's good for you, but the last one I did with banana turned this awful shade of nearly black as it sat and my co-workers were completely grossed out. There's a bit of a grassy flavour I'm not crazy about, either. I think I'll take my spinach in my salad.

3. The Blendtec is a bit loud-in fact, enough that it wakes my 18 year old up, which is a feat in itself. I admit, it's so powerful that at first we were slightly frightened of it. Nobody in the house will touch it-they figure that I'm the one who has tamed the machine and so they ask me to be the one to whip up their treats. Which is fine with me really, I just find it amusing.

Besides, I tend to be territorial over appliances that I love.

4. Leftover yogurt or coconut milk that may go bad before you can use it really freezes well in an ice cube tray. I thaw the cubes a little before throwing them in the blender, and they whiz up really nicely.

5. There is somewhat of a learning curve to the Blendtec. Nothing too hard mind you, but I think it's worth going through the manual and  reading about all the different cycles, what each button means, etc. I did find the books didn't quite match the blender I have, and some of the cycles that were listed aren't a selection on my model. It can be a little confusing that way. I'm still figuring it out.

6. You need to be adventurous and let go of how you usually do things. For me, a blender has only been used for...blending. Baby food, pureeing soups, smoothies... that's about all I ever made in it. Using a blender to make brownies has gone against every fibre of my being, because my brain screams,

"NOOOO! You do NOT make brownies in a BLENDER!"

But the truth? Best brownies ever. Itty bitty bits of chocolate all through them made them amazing. My next experiment? Bread. It's mind blowing, really. I've never thought you could do bread in a blender. That just sounds wrong-but you can, and I'm going to try it. Plus cleaning is a snap. Speaking of cleaning....

7. The Blendtec is the easiest appliance ever to clean. My old blender had to be taken apart into 6 pieces, each washed separately, then dried and put back together or at least in proximity to each other so I wouldn't lose a piece and be searching for it the next time I wanted to use the blender. I hated washing that thing. The jar was heavy glass and cumbersome. The blades were sharp, and the plastic ring had cracked more than once.

A Blendtec has three parts. You put a drop of dish soap and about 1 1/2 cups warm water in the jar, pop on the lid, sit it on the base, and hit the self clean cycle. then you just rinse it out. Done!
Self cleaning
Wheee! The self clean cycle is awesome.

My family still gathers around to watch the self clean cycle because we're all so easily amused.

self clean2

"It sounds like it's going to take off," John comments. I lovingly rinse out the jar, dry it, and gently set it back on the stand. It's pretty clear that this appliance holds a special spot in the kitchen which in the past has been usually reserved for my stand mixer but now the blender right up there with it. This isn't just a blender. It's a super cool appliance.

The verdict:

Do I recommend the Blendtec blender? Yes. Oh, yes. If you can get one, by all means, I highly recommend it. In fact, I'd say that instead of getting a food processor and blender for your kitchen, just get a Blendtec and you'll be good. So far I've used it every single day.

If you are a moderate to obsessive cook and you cook from scratch a lot, I highly recommend the Blendtec. It will make your life easier. If you don't cook at all, a high end blender may be a bit much for you, but I think if you were interested in trying it and could possibly see yourself getting into cooking in the future, then go for it.

There's more to come than a review, of course. I've tried cookies, brownies, crepes, I want to try bread.... bread in a blender, you say? How does THAT work?

I'm going to show you.

Disclosure: I was very generously sent a Blendtec Designer series blender to try. I was not compensated otherwise to post. My opinions are entirely my own. (as are my smoothies, but if you ask nicely I may share)

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