A series on green smoothies
- Green smoothie (r)evolution: eat more greens and love them too!
- Green smoothie evolution – an update
- Best green smoothie recipes
- Summer bliss: how to make raw ice-cream?
I am glad you are here, because it tells me you like the idea of green smoothies. Yay! Great news.
Daily green smoothie is a simple and healthy habit that can change your whole life experience. In the previous post I give arguments why green smoothie is a fantastic way to incorporate more greens in your life and become an energized and healthier person as a result. In the movie below Sergei Boutenko demonstrates how to make a delicious smoothie. It is based on the concepts from the Green for Life book written by his mother, an originator of green smoothies. First, he talks about some principles, then in the last 2 minutes he shows how such a smoothie is made.
See also http://www.rawfamily.com. Here we will focus on the blenders.
Any blender will mix fruit and vegetables together to make a smoothie, or a kind of smoothie. As usual, the devil lies in the details. The difference between blenders is in the following aspects:
- preparation: the amount of work such as peeling fruits, cutting leafy greens into pieces, etc
- quality of the final result: smoothness or how much pieces of fiber are left out unblended
- ease of use
- durability and sustainability
- cleaning time
Best green smoothie blenders
The best blender will allow you to make fantastic smoothies easily and fast. The most powerful blenders include VitaMix and BlendTec brands. They are very expensive, though. A much cheaper yet a great possibility offers the Omni blender. This is the latest blender added to the family of the so-called 3-horse power, powerful blenders. It seems the best value for money. If you want a powerful blender, Omni may be the right choice.
What makes the VitaMix, BlendTec and Omni blenders so good?
Their optimal design for heavy duty and daily use.
These blenders are also multi-functional. Not only make they smoothies and green smoothies, but also ice-cream, warm soups (yes, BlendTec can produce warm soups from cold water), nut butters, sauces, drinks, doughs, cake mixes, and so on. In addition, they can grind coffee beans and seeds. These are simply professional machines so you can rely on them for a long term use.
Have you ever wanted to have a fresh peanut butter, tahini, raw halva, almond milk, sesame milk or raw ice-cream (made from almond milk, peanut butter, dates and maple sirup)? Now, you can easily make them. And they are delicious.
If you cannot spend a few hundred dollars/euro/pounds on a blender, you may start with a decent mid-priced blender, usually in the 50-100 $/EUR/GBP range. Such blenders will let you start experimenting with delicious smoothies without too much pondering over the expensive blenders. Just have fun.
Mid-priced blenders are generally well-equipped for making great milk shakes or soft fruit smoothies. They are not necessary capable of blending hard leafy greens well such as kale, parsley leaves or chard. They will work better with spinach, rocket leaves, lettuce, baby spinach or coriander. Still, you will need an extra care and a right blending strategy to prevent the motor from burning.
Be aware that mid-priced blenders save you money in the short term, but many people report how fast they wear out when they commit to daily use. There is a chance you will need to replace your 50-100 $/EUR/GBP blender soon after you commit to daily green smoothie, either because the motor will burn out or you will outgrow its capabilities. Look at my tips below to ensure the blender you choose lasts for some time.
How to choose your mid-priced blender
If you are unsure whether you will stick to green smoothies or not, or you cannot afford the high-end blender yet, a mid-priced blender will help you start small and keep experimenting. Follow the strategies below to make sure that the blender is right for the task.
If you like green smoothies and want to establish a daily habit, buy a high-end blender. It makes the whole experience, both making the smoothie and enjoying the result, just smooth and easy. And the blender should last for years.
Tip #1. Learn about blenders.
The best strategy is to go to a home appliances shop and investigate example blenders yourself. See how they differ in the blade lengths, bottom area, container volume, speeds, size, etc. Inspecting the blenders visually will give you a better idea of how they may work and what is that you want. For instance, some of the blenders are huge and may be impractical to fit in your kitchen.
Look at blenders’ specs and reviews on the Amazon site as well as the sites of other online retailers. Compare them to the BlendTec and VitaMix brands. After learning basic ideas about various blenders, you can perfectly buy your blender online. It is usually cheaper than in a regular shop. The differences in the making will contribute to the ease and speed of producing green smoothies.
Tip #2. Look for these qualities in your blender (sorted from most important to less important):
- High-powered motor. 700 watts or more (preferably 1000 watts or more). You need a high rotation speed to liquefy the fruits and vegs efficiently.
- Long stainless blade. The longer the better. Ideally, the blade should be 4-5cm long at least. The longer the blade, the easier the blending process is.
- Ice-crushing possibility. You want to handle ice and frozen fruit well. In addition ice-crushing usually indicates a more powerful motor, too.
- Two or more blending speeds and a pulse. Pulse is a must. You want to control how fast you can go with the processing of the ingredients. You will need different speeds for leafy greens and fruit. You will rely on pulse to start the blending.
- Secured lid.
- Large container / pitcher, preferably BPA-free plastic, for durability and easy cleaning. I recommend plastic containers as I had an accident with the glass one – see the note below. High-end blenders use specially designed plastic containers and they are good. Even if you are alone or have a small family, it makes sense to buy a blender with a big container. You may happily experiment with making larger amounts of smoothie (green smoothie, milkshakes and others) or you may invite friends for smoothie tasting. Choose a container of mimim 1-1.2 litre (50-60 ounces).
- Wide bottom of the container. With a wide bottom, the blades can work efficiently and a better blending vortex is being created.
- Wide skid-proof base. This is for stability. When you are blending on a high speed, the base may start sliding across your counter unless you are holding it tight or you got a blender with a solid foundation.
- Guarantee and return possibility.
Tip #3. Choose the best blender you can afford and buy it online.
Good mid-priced blenders suitable for making green smoothies come from the KitchenAid and Hamilton Beach brands. However, they often rely on the motor power of 500 watts. Choose more watts if possible. A blender that seems a good match for making green smoothies is any of the KitchenAid 5-speed blenders. They are quite powerful (around 700 watts) and are multi-functional (chop, mix, blend etc). I have not used any of these, but available reviews tell me they are sturdy and capable blenders. I personally had some experience with a few mid-range Braun, Kenwood and similar blenders, but I was not too happy about them.
When I was on holiday, I ordered a mid-priced blender for my family. I had used it for three weeks and I was quite pleased with it. It cannot compare to my BlendTec but it was capable of making good smoothies from non-hard leafy greens, such as spinach, rocket, lettuce and so on.
In addition to your blender, you may also like to use a cheap coffee grinder so that you can grind sesame seeds, linseed or fresh spices. You can add them to enrich your green smoothie experience.
Tips for an effective use of your mid-priced blender
If a powerful blender is not yet possible for you, do not worry. You can still make great green smoothie if you follow the suggestions below.
- Start with water first and then add other ingredients. Water is the medium that helps to create a vortex that pulls fruit and leafy greens into the blades. Start with 0.5-1 cup water, depending on your blender and how much smoothie you want to make.
- Add your fruit second. ALWAYS add fruit before leafy greens. Leafy greens tend to get stuck into blades, especially if they are short or when the bottom of the container is narrow (which is often the case for many blenders). Fruit will help to create a better vortex. If you use a liquid-rich soft fruit, such as papaya or pineapple, you may need much less water or no water at all.
- Add ice third if you want (use less water when you add ice).
- Finally, add your leafy greens.
- Cut your fruits into pieces and shred your greens. Mid-range blenders may get trouble to handle big chunks of fruits or leaves.
- Use the PULSE button to get started. Press it a few times for a few seconds. It is really important. The pulse gives the ingredients the kick to get things going. It will break up large pieces into small ones and dislodge pieces that may get stuck.
- Choose a high speed and continue for 30 sec. Let the motor rest. You may need to repeat this a few times.
- Use a long spoon or other suitable kitchen utensil to get unstuck pieces of leafy greens or other larger chunks.
- Consider making green smoothies in parts. If the above works very slowly, start with a half of the ingredients and add the remaining ingredients slowly. Another strategy is to blend your fruits first and then add your leafy greens in small steps.
- Fill the container with fruits and greens only up to 80%. You need to leave some space for the blending vortex.
If you follow the above principles you should enjoy your blender for a while and be able to make green smoothies in little time.
Just do it! Make your first green smoothie. Boost your day.
The final note is my personal recommendation:
BlendTec – the total experience!
I personally use a BlendTec Total Blender (a.k.a. Blendtec WildSide HP3A Blender – 3Qt Container & 4″ Blade). It can blend anything because it has a powerful 1500 watt motor and a very long blade. It works amazingly well.
To prove the power of BlendTec, the Blendtec founder Tom Dickson created a funny series of info-commercials in which he attempts to blend various unusual items, such as TV controls, CDs, iphone, air-gun, etc. These hilarious short movies can be watched either on http://www.willitblend.com or YouTube. See how e.g. xbox360 is blended:
or how English and German are blended together
As of January 2013, there are another powerful blenders on the market. E.g. Duronic BL 1200, Magimix 11610, Magimix 11615 with Mill. They look great, have 1.5-1.8 litre jugs, and are capable of a heavy duty work with their 1200 Watt motors. In addition, they are also cheap in comparison to BlendTec and VitaMix. However, I would have reservations to recommend them. Why? Because of their glass containers.
On my holiday last year I was using a powerful blender with a glass container, different than the ones mentioned above. Unfortunately, I had an accident. Due to micro-damages in the glass (invisible to my naked eye), the container burst into pieces, when I turned the motor on. If you ask, yes, I took care things were set up all right. Since my right hand was on the cover top, as the result, just in milliseconds my right thumb got into high-speed rotating blades, because the motor was still working. It shattered parts of the bone and removed parts of the flesh. It was horribly painful.
The thumb has been healing very slowly and it is still a long recovery. I am not sure whether it was just a one in million accident, but it certainly made me not to choose any glass container for blending, mixing or similar type of work, ever again.