Hey everyone. I have been really busy recently with class work and internship stuff, so I decided to write a quick blog. A few months ago my parents bought me a Vitamix as a Christmas present. Before this, I was using a blender to make my smoothies. I tried once to make a vegetable and fruit smoothie but it came out awful. It was honestly one of the worst drinks I ever tried. I used spinach and apples and there were chunks of both in the drink. It also had a weird smell. I never tried making another vegetable smoothie after that occasion.
Fast forward to the Vitamix. I use my Vitamix at least twice a day. Before I proceed, I just want to say that I am not trying to market the Vitamix. But I can honestly say it is the most important item I have ever owned, at least in relation to improving my diet. In the few months that I have been using the Vitamix, I have discovered, through trial and error, how to make good tasting smoothies that have a ton of vegetables in them. I am going to talk about how to make great tasting smoothies, protein shakes, soups and sauces. I will start by talking about the health benefits of using the Vitamix to make fruit and vegetables drinks.
Health benefits of using a Vitamix to make fruit/vegetable juices
- Instead of saying fruits/vegetables, I will often just say plants
Unlike juicing, making fruit and vegetable juices in the Vitamix is the same as eating the plants whole. When you juice, you take out much of the vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants of the plants. When you use a Vitamix, you are just changing the physical composition of the plant. You are not chemically changing the plant. You are essentially eating it raw. The Vitamix is just doing the digesting for you. You are still taking in the entire plant-no fiber or anything else is removed from the plant.
Fresh versus frozen plants
There is some debate concerning which is healthier-fresh or frozen plants. I personally use mostly frozen plants. When I buy fresh plants, I sometimes do not immediately use them, and they go bad. It is also very time consuming to wash fresh plants. Frozen vegetables are typically cheaper than fresh vegetables. I have looked into the fresh vs. frozen debate, and it is often cited that frozen plants are picked at their peak ripeness, when they have the most vitamins and minerals, and then they are flash frozen. Fresh vegetables on the other hand, are picked prematurely so that they do not go rotten by the time they are shipped around the globe. When the plant is picked before it is fully developed, it may have less health benefits than a mature plant. Fresh plants usually taste better than frozen plants. In the end, it is really a personal choice. If you don’t mind washing plants or paying a little bit more, than buy fresh plants.
For smoothies and juices, I almost always use frozen vegetables. I do buy fresh organic carrots because they are extremely cheap and stay good in the fridge for at least two weeks. When you use frozen vegetables in smoothies, you do not need to add ice. This is convenient if you do not always have ice available. I also like having plants available for whenever I need them, and plants stay good frozen for months.
Which fruits and vegetables are best for juices?
I will tell you which fruits and vegetables have strong flavors and which have weak flavors.
Strong tasting plants
Beets, Onions, Garlic, Mixed Peppers, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, celery, and herbs
Mild tasting plants
Most greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, maybe mustard greens), carrots
You can use any fruit. All the fruits I have used taste good when blended. If you are on a budget, the cheapest fruits to use for smoothies are apples, bananas and oranges. You can buy bagged oranges and apples, and they are usually on sale.
I have only made one type of soup so I don’t have much expertise in this area yet. I made a tomato soup but did not follow specific directions. I mixed fresh tomatoes, water, minced garlic, frozen onions, fresh carrots and herbs to season. I did not measure any of the ingredients out, but it tasted good so I guess I got lucky. Once I blended everything together, I put it in a big pot and heated it up for a bit. You can also use soy milk or regular milk to make the soup thicker. I used soy milk and the soup had a very similar texture to what you would see using canned soup. This soup definitely tasted fresher and different than canned tomato soup however.
Making pasta sauce
I made tomato sauce a few times and it came out really good each time. I used two cans of crushed tomato, onion, garlic, carrots, tomato paste, water and herbs to season. This may seem similar to the tomato soup, but I used more tomato and less onion, garlic and carrots. The pasta sauce definitely tasted more like tomatoes than the tomato soup. Once I blended all of the ingredients I heated it on the stove top. If you have leftovers you can freeze the pasta sauce and the tomato soup in glass jars or glass tupawear.
Making protein shakes
- ¼ cup of nuts is about 180 calories
- ¼ cup of seeds is about 180 calories
- These amounts vary and some nuts and seeds are more calorie dense than others
When I used a blender to make protein shakes, I had to first grind up my seeds and nuts with a food processor and coffee grinder. With the Vitamix, you can put in whole seeds and nuts and the Vitamix will liquefy them. If you put in sesame seeds or flax seeds, once the Vitamix is finished grinding them up there will be nothing left of them. I am actually not a huge fan of nuts and seeds but I do enjoy them when they are ground up and put into my protein shake. You can buy nuts and seeds in bulk and put them in Ziploc bags and store them in your fridge for a few months. If you have bottom drawers keep the nuts in there since there will be less light to make the nuts go bad.
My go to protein shake has three different nuts and seeds. First I add 2 cups of water and 1.5 cups of soy milk to the Vitamix. Then I take a ¼ cup and take 2 scoops from each of the three nuts/seeds. In total I use 1.5 cups of nuts and seeds in my protein shake. I am a big guy and my caloric needs are high so you should probably use less. You can use the information above to figure out how many calories each serving is. First add the liquid, then the nuts and seeds then your protein powder and finally two bananas. I would not suggest freezing your protein shakes. I have never tried it but I don’t think they would taste good.
Making vegetable/fruit smoothies
The first weekend I had the Vitamix, I made a lot of fruit smoothies. You can pretty much use any fruit and it will taste good. You don’t want to use all fruit though. You want vegetables to balance out all of the sugar you will be consuming (yes, it is sugar from fruit, but it can come out to be a lot of sugar consumed at once). I never make just fruit smoothies. For my smoothies I use about 8 fresh carrots, 3 apples, 2 oranges, 1 banana, 1 cup of frozen spinach, 1 cup of frozen kale, 1 cup of frozen collard greens and 3 or 4 cups of water. This will make about 64 ounces of smoothie. You can store it in glass jars and drink it throughout the week. I drink the whole full pitcher in one day. I put the smoothie in two 32 ounce glass jars and drink one in the morning and one later in the day. It tastes really good, and although it may be green, you cannot taste the vegetables. My wife actually prefers this smoothie to the ones that I made in the beginning that were mostly fruit. All together I get about 15 servings of fruits & vegetables per day by using the Vitamix.
I have learned that putting the ingredients in a certain order can make it harder or easier to make the smoothie. Typically you put the liquid in first. I start by putting three cups of water into the blender. Then I cut up 3 apples and put them in. I put 1 cup of spinach and 1 cup of kale plus an extra cup of water in the blender. Then I blend those ingredients. Once this is thoroughly blended I add in 2 oranges, all of the cut up carrots, 1 cup of collard greens, 1 banana and 1 cup of water. Then I blend everything together. Sometimes you have to stop the blender and then slowly start it again. If you do this a few times all of the ingredients will be mixed. Keep the blender to the highest setting, flip the switch to high speed and blend for about 30 seconds. It took me a few times to figure out the perfect order to put all of the ingredients in. When I put them in a different order I would have to stir the ingredients with a spoon because the blender stopped mixing the ingredients.
Obviously, you can make different types of plant smoothies. In the beginning, I put in canned beets. Just be careful because canned beets have a really strong flavor. You can try adding in mustard greens. When you defrost the smoothie, it will not taste as good as it does fresh. The Vitamix comes with a pretty good recipe book. If you are like me, you can experiment with different recipes, and write down what tasted good and what did not. Be careful using coconut water. It may taste good but it has a lot of added sugar. There is no need to add extra sugar; fruit has enough sugar to make the smoothie taste good.
Storing smoothies for later consumption
If you are busy during the week, like I am, you may not have time to make a smoothie every day. This is not a problem. You can make smoothies on the weekends and freeze them. I am not sure exactly how long they stay frozen. The best way to freeze them is to buy glass mason jars. I bought a set on Amazon for fairly cheap. They have different sizes too; I have 16 ounce and 32 ounce jars. To thaw them for the next day, you can put them in the fridge overnight. I have found that the 32 ounce jars will not thaw out completely in twelve hours. I usually put the 32 ounce smoothies in the microwave on defrost for 15 minutes or so. Just try to avoid heating the smoothie up, which will happen if you thaw it in the microwave for too long.
Hopefully you learned something from this blog. I personally love the Vitamix and think it is a fantastic way to get in your vegetable and fruits without having to eat salad every day or suffering through a bad tasting smoothie using a blender. If you know someone that does not like the taste of vegetables, tell them to get a Vitamix. I know, they are expensive, but think of it as a long term investment into your health. New they cost around $500 but you can find them refurbished on Amazon for $299. If you have any comments, questions or recipe suggestions please email me or leave your feedback on this blog.