The Best Blender | A Love Story
Why I Love My Vitamix (And Why I Don't) And How The Blendtec Caught My Eye
Total Super Nutrition Center since 1996. Before that I had another model for a couple of years. My Vitamix is still going strong. So you'd think my love affair with the Vitamix would be stable and strong, with nothing pulling us apart, right? I mean, the blender wars have pretty clear cut sides. You're either in the Vitamix camp or the Blendtec
camp. For me, it's not that easy. I've loved my Vitamix for the most part through all these years. It predates my marriage. It's been with me through more smoothies than you can possibly count. We use it at least 3 times a day. It's tried and true. But. Yes, there is a but. Another love has caught my eye. Sure, it could be simply a wheatgrass is greener over there infatuation. But oh I so want to find out if there is something to this crush I have.
Join me as I take you on a journey of the early days and the wonders and marvels of creating luscious creamy smoothies, silky soups, and dreamy whips. Then we'll explore those little things, the irritaions and frustrations that led me to stray. And I'll share my secret and growing desire for the Wildside. And, dear reader, I ask for your help. What do you love about these machines? What do you hate? Are there any other blenders out there in my quest for the best blender that deserve a second glance? Together maybe we can figure it all out.
Image copyright laurapeterson215. Preparing to make chocolate ice cream in my Vitamix.
The Best Blender Honeymoon Days
Oh How Sweet It Was - A Vitamix Review
As I mentioned, I bought my Vitamix in 1996. Whew that's a long time ago! And for those of you interested in saving some money, I bought a refurbished model (model # Super Total Nutrition Center VM 0103). And it's held up beautifully. At the time I had no idea I would one day be making green smoothies in my machine. I did however buy it for regular smoothies, of which I was quite the consumer. I loved smoothies...yogurt, peach, banana. Yum. Color me happy. I also wanted to make things like hummus and nut butters, batters and more. And I was sold on the idea of making ice creams and sorbets. And bread dough! Oh and don't forget the soup! All right in my very own machine. Wow. It really was all that. And more!
I bought into everything it would do and then some. Hook line and sinker. And you know, it really hasn't disappointed. I mean, it does make a fantastic smoothie. Ice cream is great. Sorbets...my kids adore them. And it purees. Sinfully smooth, luscious creations. Being able to put ingredients in (some veggies, a liquid, seasonings), turn it on and a mere minutes later, piping hot, fresh, yummy soup. How many machines out there can do that? Marvelous creation, the Vitamix.
As I've said, I have loved it. I still do. I would never trade it for your average run of the mill blender. I cry when it needs to be repaired or I need to wait for a part and I cannot use it. It's like an extra appendage of mine and we quite simply, could not live (nearly as well) without it.
For the techies out there, here's a brief rundown of the specs (of the current model, not my older one!):
Speed from 11 mph to 240 mph
Choose high or variable speed
Stainless steel hammermill and cutting "wet" blades
(Approx) 2 peak HP motor
120 volt, 60 hz, 11.5 amps (mine actually is the same as all this).
Comes with a 64 oz wet blade container and the option to buy a 64 oz dry container to grind grains. Vitamix also now has a 32 oz wet blade container. Both of these come with a tamper to help push thicker foods into the blades. (containers are BPA free)
If you want more detailed information than that (and to see all the different options they now have), visit Vitamix.
Image courtesy laurapeterson215. Preparing to make ice cream in my Vitamix.
What's the Best Blender?
We want to know! Which blender is best? Everyone has their opinions...please share yours!
Which Blender Do You Think Is Better?
The Seven Year Blender Itch - Vitamix Vs. Blendtec gets heated
We made chocolate ice cream in my vitamix. It was yummy! But I wanted all the bits at the bottom in my bowl and they are quite difficult to get out. I do have a skinny spatula and it helps, but it does tend to get a bit chewed up by the blades over time.
Image copyright laurapeterson215.
So I had my dream machine. My beautiful piece of engineering that allowed me to move ever forward in my journey toward vibrant health and well-being and beautiful decadent food. And on so many levels it was a dream. But, just like the toilet seat being left up by a loved spouse, there were some minor irritations. That grew to be not quite so minor.
My Vitamix is big. Too big to fit under the counter with the container on it. Yes, I can leave the container off and it will fit under the upper cabinets. But that's cluttery and doesn't look the way I want it to in my kitchen. And it's just inconvenient. I could leave the machine in a cabinet or just leave the container in a cabinet, but it's pretty tall too and I don't have the shelf space to fit it, not to mention that it gets used multiple times every day so it would be pretty inconvenient. So, it poses a problem, albeit minor in the grand scheme of the world. Vitamix has recently made a more compact model that does in fact fit under counters (to compete with Blendtec that has always fit and because this is a big complaint with lots of consumers) so yea for you new buyers!
Next, and a much more annoying issue is the blades. You know how on a regular garden variety blender you can remove the blades when you clean the container? Not so much with the Vitamix. Well, you can remove them, but it's not recommended (and trust me, you won't want to). There's a huge wrench device that comes with your machine (at least I think it comes with it, you may need to buy it separately...in fact, now that I think of it, mine may have come when I bought a new blade assembly). You have to wrench it off and make sure you put it back on tightly, but not too tight. The problem though is when you are trying to clean up. The blades get in the way. And they are sharp blades. Not so sharp that you will cut your fingers anytime you go near them. But you do need to exercise some caution.
And it's not just cleaning that poses a problem. Imagine if you will, you've just blended up some hummus. Or nut butter. Or ice cream. And it's rich and thick and delicious. And you, of course, want to devour every last bite. It's nearly impossible to do. You can use a skinny spatula (which I finally bought sometime in the last 4 years!) and attempt to scrape things out while carefully maneuvering around the blades but I guarantee your spatula will suffer slices and dices. It will be damaged. And try to get around the base of the blade assembly? Nope. Not going to happen. Which brings us back to cleaning...it's a big challenge to get thicker items out from the blade assembly too.
In sales material and on webpages, Vitamix contends that all you need to do is add water to your machine, add a few drops of dish soap and then whirr on high speed for 30 seconds and voila! Clean machine! Again, nope. Not so much. Well, it helps. And it will get gunk off the blades. But if you have peanut butter stuck to the sides of the container, it's very hard to get it off with a 30 second (or longer) blending. You need to wipe it. My suggestion is to buy a bottle brush (did this in the last year or so and wow has it helped and made a difference!) to clean the whole thing. Also if you make smoothies that have flax or chia seeds in it, chances are you will have seeds stuck on the side or possibly tiny ground up seed material that just doesn't come off fully with the 30 second blend on high. The brush comes in handy here too.
Then there's the container design. You have to look at the picture to see this, but on each side, there is an indent. I'm guessing there is a technical reason for this, something about the food hitting another surface and being pulverized ever more completely. But it makes for challenging cleaning again. It's another seam almost to get into and things tend to get stuck. Might I suggest once again a bottle brush? It would have saved me many years of frustration.
Now when it comes to performance, as I've said, I've loved my machine. She generally works exceedingly well. But. There are a few exceptions.
1. It's challenging to make small quantities of items well (think small amounts of salad dressing with garlic you want blended). You need at the very least 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of items. And at that volume, it's easy for it all to get pushed to the edges and never fully get blended. Small amounts not good.
2. Thicker items are a big challenge. I really don't like making nut butters in my machine and I would really really love to because we love them (particularly sunflower butter right now...well, me, mostly although my kids do like it). It's just too thick and for whatever reason the machine whines (no really, it sounds like it's whining!) and complains the whole way through. The tamper helps a little. Same thing with hummus and sometimes when I'm making a sorbet with lots of frozen fruit. It's not easy and can end in little chunks being left. But it you have the desire (and enough volume) to pound the tamper (which I don't like to use), then it can work better. Just not the ease of use I wanted or dreamed of.
I guess seeing it written, it's not a lot of complaints. But when you use something multiple times daily, for over 15 years, those little things can get to you and make you seek out something different.
Oh, I almost forgot. Just wanted to tell you the things that have needed to be fixed on my machine, lest you think the last 16+ years have been repair free:
1. Replaced the container a couple of times.
2. Had a broken drive shaft that needed to be replaced (I was able to do it myself with the help of the wonderful Vitamix customer support).
3. Blades have been replaced 2 or 3 times I think (but I have also received a complete new container and blade assembly once).
4. This hasn't been repaired, but now when I use the variable speed, the top speed doesn't work right. It fizzles and is almost the same speed as the lowest speed. Not worth sending in for repair since I usually zip from low speed all the way up and then jump right to high speed for most things. And for other things, I can sit at speed 8 rather than 9.
5. My current container broke. Right at the pour spout. My fault, I dropped it. And it must have fallen just right. Broke the spout. Poor machine.
And the Affair with Blendtec Blenders Begins
In My Mind Anyway...The Blendtec Seems Better
Somewhere over the course of the last few years, I started to hear about something different and new. The Blendtec. I don't think it's all that new, it used to be called the KTec. I really couldn't tell you how long it's been around. But anyway. I started to see things about it. And you know, I really couldn't tell you how it started. How my eye turned away from my Vitamix. I guess the conditions were ripe what with my frustrations and irritations. But the Blendtec, oh, it started to sound so wonderful.
First of all, it fits under the cabinet! With the container on the base! Halleluia, how amazing is that? Seriously, the little things get me excited. It has a 3 horsepower blender which according to some boils down to more power and a smoother smoothie. In the spirit of disclosure, I do not own a Blendtec and have not operated one. I have tasted smoothies and ice cream made in a Blendtec but in all fairness, I didn't have a sample from the Vitamix at the same time to really compare. So, I cannot tell you which one was smoother really. I have heard other people (admitted Blendtec fans) that smoothies made in the Wildside (the latest version of the Blendtec with larger blades and a 5th "side" to the container) are in fact smoother than the Vitamix. You'll have to be your own judge here (or just realize they are both going to be pretty darn good in this department).
But other considerations are enough for me to stare longingly at the amazon screen and try to call the Wildside to me. Let's start with the blades. The blades, ah the blades. There are two wingtip blades. They aren't sharp, they're dull. They are designed to pull down ingredients from the top of the pitcher. The dull blades crushes (and pulverizes) ingredients rather than slicing them. What does that mean and why does it make me happy? Easier to get the last tiny drop of every delectable treat I make out of the machine. And easier to clean. Two blades, not four. No more sliced spatulas! Or fingers. (I don't know if it also means that the Blendtec will not slice/chop veggies like the Vitamix does - think coleslaw - but since I have used that capability only a handful of times over the years, I'm not concerned about it).
Oh, and when grinding grains, from what I've seen while watching a Blendtec demo at my local Sam's Club versus grinding grain in my Vitamix, it does a much better job. When I try to grind something in my Vitamix, it often chugs along challenged and the grains get pretty hot if I leave it for too long. Using the tamper helps a little. Maybe I'm doing it wrong but it isn't as great a process as I'd like and I don't wind up with super fine flour. From the demo I watched with the Blendtec, the mechanics of it seemed better. I mean, it seemed that the grains moved around so much better and were pulled into a vortex rather than churning. Does that make sense? I don't know how else to explain it. Bottom line, it seems (and this is complete conjecture) that the Blendtec does a better job of turning your grains to powder.
And lastly, though this is certainly not a main reason for me to stray, the Blendtec does have pre-programmable blend cycles. That means you can push a button and walk away to fold the laundry and it will stop when it's supposed to. How cool is that (well, not the folding laundry part)? I don't really know for sure if I'll love that feature or if it will take some getting used to, but I'm willing to test it out.
Oh, really quickly, again for the techies among us, here are the basic specs of the Blendtec:
25 pre-programmed blending cycles
BPA free container.
Again, if you want more, visit Blendtec
So that's all. I've come clean. I'm a former Vitamix lover that has strayed. If only in my mind. But oh how I long for a Blendtec to sit on my counter and help me each morning as I make a green smoothie shake for my youngest son, a chocolate green smoothie (with spinach) for my oldest and another smoothie for me. And yep, the Vitamix can handle it and we'll keep moving along, but I just know that a little Wildside would change our world.
Image courtesy amazon
The twister jar is indispensable when making nut butters and hummus. You'll make them easier and faster and smoother. All good!
Even though I've stated my desire to switch to the Blendtec, I still believe Vitamix is an incredible company and that you really can't go wrong with a vitamix. So if you're still in the vitamix camp, this is an incredible machine.
My Three Year Old's Go To Green Smoothie Recipe
High Powered Blenders Make a Huge Difference.
Here's a quick recipe that my three year old drinks almost every morning. He's been drinking green smoothies since he was 6 months old. And if you don't know what a green smoothie is (I'm assuming you get that it's green usually), it's a smoothie to which some dark leafy green vegetable has been added. We usually add spinach, sometimes kale, sometimes collard greens, maybe even chard.
1 slice of avocado
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of water
handful of sunflower seeds or a spoonful of tahini
handful of spinach leaves
a few drops of stevia or a bit of honey
blend for a minute or so at top speed and voila! A shake! For some, it may be a little too green tasting, especiallly if you're just starting out with greens. Start slowly, with less greens and more banana or sweetener. Increase over time.
Seriously, he loves this. He has it almost every day. And has been having smoothies almost every day since 6 months (though a different kind at that age and I didn't add honey of course!).
Here's a bonus recipe for his favorite fruity green smoothie:
1/2 cup mango (approx) (frozen or fresh)
1/2 cup sliced peaches (frozen or fresh)
large handful of spinach or kale or other green
1 cup of water (adjust for your own desired thickness)
blend all together for a minute or so. Enjoy!
The Raw Food World Blendtec Vs. Vitamix - See for yourself!
Here's the link to Raw Food World's blenders to check the prices compared with amazon:
We all have our faves. Which is yours? Are you in the Vitamix or Blendtec camp? Or have you found something else? Do tell and don't spare the juicy details!