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A few years ago, one of my fellow dietetic interns gushed excitedly about getting a Vitamix blender. A blender that costs over $300?! Considering I was making an intern’s salary and we were still paying off Sean’s school loans, no blender could possibly be worth that much.
It makes hot soup, you say? Well, that’s pretty impressive.
Makes ice cream, too? No way?!
(FYI: These blenders do not have either heating or cooling units; they are designed to give the right amount of friction to blend and heat or blend while keeping the contents cool.)
You can even make your own nut butters and flours!
So, fast forward to just a few months ago. Sean and I were in the 9th level of babymaking quagmire known as unexplained infertility and actively trying to conceive. We were trying a “cleanse” during which we would include a green smoothie a day. After surveying the juice choices at Whole Paycheck (er, I mean, Whole Foods), we decided that a green smoothie/juice habit would be ridiculously exorbitant. Well, it seems like I have a way of manifesting certain things–just not babies–into my life, but I was in disbelief and beyond thrilled when Blendtec said they would send me a blender to review. (I jumped up and down like an audience member that won something–or got to meet Ryan Gosling, swoon!–on Oprah or Ellen.) So, here are the top 5 reasons I had to eat my words about one of *those* blenders:
Like I was saying, the green juices and smoothies we saw at Whole Foods were uber-expensive–costing maybe $8 or so for a single serving. Not all were even organic. This makes the price of a Blendtec ($279.95 for a refurbished Total Blender Classic) actually reasonable when you look at it from a price per use perspective. I mean, talk about the latte factor multiplied. Let’s say a green drink a day for one costs $8. If I multiplied that by 7 for the week and invested that at a moderate annual interest rate of 5%, I’d have $115,545.67 in 20 years! $280 is not a bad investment for a machine that also has the potential to get you and your family consuming a lot more fruits and vegetables and ultimately help improve your quality of life.
As a dietitian, I have to admit that at one time, I had a strong disdain for smoothies. Case in point, a couple came to me with their teenage son and wanted to know why he was gaining unwanted weight when they were eating so “healthfully.” What we learned was that he was consuming over 10 servings of fruit a day just from the smoothie he was drinking in the morning and a couple of snacks! Think about it: it’s easy to drink multiple servings of fruit in a smoothie–not so easy eating them whole. Most blenders can handle frozen fruit smoothies, but you really need something like the Blendtec to make green drinks smooth and palatable. For most people, smoothies made with mostly greens and veggies make a a load more sense nutrition-wise because they are low-calorie and nutrient-dense. (On the flip side, the Blendtec can be invaluable to those struggling to keep weight on–like the elderly or cancer patients.)
For a gadget or appliance to earn a spot in our limited kitchen space, it cannot be superfluous (in the way a garlic press or egg slicer is to me) and it should be versatile and therefore used often. When I had a regular blender, it would be dusted off once in a while to puree a soup–as long as I didn’t decide that a chunky soup was preferable to getting the blender out. (Please tell me I’m not the only one that can be lazy like that.) Now, take the Blendtec that can make a green smoothie every day, puree my soup ingredients and heat it up at the same time, make a tasty soft serve ice cream with just one ingredient, and make sauces like pesto, mayonnaise, and hari chutney a cinch…. well, the Blendtec has earned a spot, not just in the kitchen, but on the counter. You might also note that the Blendtec is significantly smaller than a Vitamix, at 15″ versus 20.5″ tall, respectively.
So, you could more easily store the Blendtec in the cabinet if you wanted.
4. Clean Up
Many appliances end up not being used as often because the dread of cleaning them up may outweigh the convenience they provide. Not the Blendtec! The Blendtec is extremely easy and hassle-free to clean. The walls of the jars are slick, so contents glide easily down or out when tipped. The blades are dull (yes, really), so even if you had to get down in there with a sponge, you won’t cut yourself. Clean up, though, is as simple as filling the jar up to half way with hot water, putting in a drop of dish detergent, and then putting it back on the base and pulsing/blending for a few seconds. Then I pour the sudsy water onto the cover and rinse with warm water. The control panel is flat and easy to wipe down as well.
From the reviews I’ve read, the Blendtec is easier to clean than the Vitamix because its jars are square and wider AND the blades on the Vitamix are sharp.
When it comes down to it, you want something that works for a variety of uses when you’re paying hundreds of dollars for it. The Blendtec has performed for me in making smooth veggie drinks with kale, making silky avocado shakes using regular ice cubes, and pulverizing dates and unsoaked raw almonds in a milky, soporific concoction. We have even used it to turn our eggshells into powder to add back to our soil for preventing blossom end rot on tomatoes and peppers. To get the most bang for your buck, I recommend getting the Refurbished Total Blender Classic along with the Twister Jar for thicker recipes like nut butters and smaller amounts (like for baby food).
Another comparison point is that the Blendtec has a touch panel for preset functions, such as whole juice versus soup, whereas the Vitamix has a dial control. The Blendtec will start up slow, then increase its speed, and shut off automatically. I personally like that I can press one button and walk away while it does its job. Now, that’s a smart machine. If you wanted to stop the function for any reason, you can just press a button and reset it.
A review would not be complete with some cons as well. There are three that come to mind.
You will not be able to use this blender without waking a baby. You might even fear for a catastrophe the first time you hear it pulverizing your greens. Based on reviews, though, the noise level is comparable for both the Blendtec and Vitamix, so they are even-Steven there. Or, you can splurge on the Stealth Blender.
My main peeve with the Blendtec is the lid design. I love that it goes on and off easily while doing its job. The con is that it’s kinda messy when you take it off. Some of the contents that get on the lid will leak onto wherever you place it. It seems like the engineers have thought about everything else except for this detail.
After we used the Blendtec to turn our eggshells into powder for the garden, the jar turned cloudy. Apparently, this happens to the Vitamix as well (from what I’ve read). It is a purely cosmetic issue and doesn’t affect the integrity of the jar, and there is a possible solution (although I cannot vouch for it, because I haven’t tried it, yet):
This is what BlendTec customer service says:
1. Juice of 1 lemon, 2-3 Tbsp of baking soda, and some water. Then, run to speed ten and scrub with non-scratch sponge.
2. Vinegar mixed with baking soda (and water) will also work, OR 1-2 Tbsp powdered dishwasher detergent dissolved in 1-2 cups hot water that is left to soak for 1 hour.
3. To get “smells” out, just grinding up a lemon works like it does for your garbage disposal.
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