Thursday, October 27, 2011

Part 2: A tale of high finances, high stakes, sister adventures and kitchen appliances

It’s still surreal to me that I even have a Vita-mix to experiment with while my whole food, natural-everything-eating, domestic goddess of a sister returned hers.  Jane made a shift to cleaner eating about five years ago and has been a huge source of inspiration for me as I’ve started making the same shift.  It seems wrong to me that she doesn’t have this miracle of green goodness machine and I do.  But have it I do, at least for now, so let me tell you about my Monday Prep Day/Vita-mix Experiment Day.

For breakfast I made the kids a piece of toast (not in my Vita-mix) and a smoothie (in my Vita-mix).  The smoothie had hemp protein, spinach, greek yoghurt, banana and frozen berries.  It was delish!  The kids loved it.  Well, Sebastian loved it until he found out there was a vegetable in it because Tristan asked me point blank and I didn’t want to lie.  On hearing the word vegetable Sebastian suddenly decided the smoothie was gross and he wouldn’t drink another sip even though it basically tasted like blueberries.  So I told him the same thing I tell him every night at dinner while he’s gagging on (and sometimes puking up) his veggies, “It’s all in your head!  Mind over matter kid!”

The smoothie was yummy but I was still chewing on berry seeds which did not happen for Vita-mix demo guy who assured me, and proved to me, that the Vita-mix pulverizes the berry seeds down to nothing.  I can chew on berry seeds from my own blender thank you very much!  Check in the “take it back, not worth the money” column.

I drove the kids to school and then came home to really get my Vita-mix on!  To get it ready for the next usage I cleaned out the dried smoothie gunk by adding a drop of dish soap, filling it with warm water and blending it on high for about 30 seconds.  Rinse away the suds and presto super cleano!  Check in the “keep! keep! keep! this thing is awesome” column.

Now that my container was clean I was ready to get started on a recipe I found a while ago but couldn’t use because I didn’t have a food processor or equivalent.  These Autumn Cookies are made with the teensiest bit of flour, no sugar, no dairy, no eggs, no oils.  First I had to mix two grated carrots, one grated apple and one mashed banana with 1/2 cup of brown rice flour, a tsp of baking powder, a heaping tsp of cinnamon and a 1/2 tsp of ginger.  I threw 1/2 cup of regular old brown rice into my dry blend container and watched the little grains become soft powdery flour.  It was beautiful!  Another check for the “keep! keep! keep! this thing is awesome” column. 

Into that lovely fruit and veggie mash I needed to add a walnut paste.  Into my wet mix container went 1 cup of walnuts, 1 combo cup of raisins and dried cranberries, 1 cup of oatmeal and 1/4 cup of water.  Blend, blend, blend.  This was more difficult.  There wasn’t really much in the way of liquid and the Vita-mix likes a bit more liquid to work optimally.  I did finally get it into a smooth paste but it had been heated to the point of warm by the time I was done.  (Remember this thing can make soup too!)  The paste was delicious but very sticky and trying to get it out from underneath the blades was an exercise in patience.  I couldn’t help thinking that making that paste in a food processor would have been much easier.  Also it was really, really hard to clean out.  The dish soap and water trick didn’t work entirely for the gunk stuck under the blades.  I tried getting a toothpick down there but it just broke.  One of the selling features of the Vita-mix is that it’s all one container, you don’t remove the blades so you don’t have to wash a ton of little pieces.  I wished I could remove the blades to get at the that gunk.  Another check for the “take it back, not worth the money” column.

Once I combined the paste with the mash I rolled the wet dough into balls and baked them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 25 minutes at 350.  Also into the oven I threw two foil-wrapped potatoes so I could try making soup in the Vita-mix at lunch (recipe from the Vita-mix cookbook you get with the machine).  An hour later all the dough had been turned into cookies (which were delish by the way) and my potatoes were baked and it was lunch time.
At this point Sebastian started crying and asking for a nap.  Itty-bitty, underweight child of mine, no lunch for you is not an option.  “But Moooooooom, I’m so tiiiiiiiiiired.  I just need a naaaaaaap.”  Give me five minutes darling boy.  I quickly threw chicken stock, white wine, a celery rib cut in two pieces, 2 whole apples (not chopped, cores, seeds, stems), my two baked potatoes, nutmeg and thyme into the Vita-mix (it was full to the very top) and turned it on and blended away.  It demolished the ingredients and literally five minutes later the vented lid was letting off heavy steam.  I turned the speed down, took out the center plastic thingy, and dropped in a large handful of grated cheddar and continued to blend for maybe 20 more seconds.  I’m not sure which column gets a check for this adventure.
Pluses: 1) Hot, homemade soup ready in a short amount of time with hardly any effort.  2) It made a ton.  I could have easily fed my whole family. 3) The soup was pureed to perfection.  It was smooth as silk.  4) It got rid of the last little bit of walnut paste under the blades without affecting the taste of the soup.
Minuses: It tasted AWFUL!!!!!  I used two Honeycrisp apples instead of the recommended Granny Smiths because that’s what I had on hand.  Honeycrisps are so much sweeter that the soup basically ended up tasting like rotten apples.  I found it completely inedible.  PB and honey it was!  Sebastian instantly stopped crying.  Funny how that works...

Since the soup was inedible and I’m not much for PB and honey I made myself a greenish smoothie for lunch.  Cranberry juice, carrot, celery, spinach, banana, frozen strawberries and hemp protein.  This time I processed it a bit longer in the blender and it came out smooth and lovely and exactly as demo-man promised me it would.  Check in the “keep! keep! keep! this thing is awesome” column. 

Dish, soap, water, zip, zip and I was ready for some more Vita-mix action.  This time I threw in 1/2 cup of raw almonds, 1 1/2 cups of water and a squirt of honey and blended on high for about a minute and made my very own almond milk.  Hello!  It was awesome!  And I didn’t have to soak the almonds overnight like you have to for a food processor.  You want almond milk on a whim?  I can make it for you!  Check for the “keep! keep! keep! this thing is awesome” column.

 I used the almond milk in a cherry almond muffin recipe.  For that recipe I also used my dry blade Vita-mix container to grind my own brown rice and quinoa into flour which I  combined with my whole wheat flour.  I have discovered I LOVE being able to grind my own flours.  Definite check in the “keep! keep! keep! this thing is awesome” column.  Later that evening I used the rest of the almond milk to make a cold cook oatmeal for Hugh and I to have for breakfast the next morning.  You put some oatmeal in a bowl cover it with milk of your choice, mash a banana into it and then I added a bit of vanilla extract (I ran out of almond extract making the muffins), a small spoonful of unsweetened cocoa and some rinsed cherries from my stash of frozen Okanagan cherries from this past summer.  Stir, cover, refrigerate overnight.  ENJOY!!!  The possibilities of variations are endless.
My next Vita-mix foray was going to be into the world of nut butters but there I ran into a snag.  The Vita-mix recipe book calls for oil to be added to the roasted almonds before you process it.  Uh... that sort of defeats the purpose in my opinion.  I googled it.  Turns out in general nut butters are extremely difficult to make in the Vita-mix - that whole needing liquid to work optimally thing.  A food processor works so much better and you have the option of making raw and roasted nut butters.  Check in the “take it back, not worth the money” column. 

So where did my columns stand at the end of the day? If I counted correctly I ended up at 5 to 3 for the “keep, keep, keep! this thing is awesome” column.  However, that being said, I’m still not totally convinced.  I don’t think I would make pestos and hummus and paste-y things like that in my Vita-mix.  I think a food processor would work better and it would be easier to get the stuff out of the bowl.  Although I can make Almond milk in my Vita-mix on a whim I can technically make it in a food processor too.  It just takes some advance thought.  Is not having to think about it in advance worth $600?  I don’t know.  The food processor I was eyeing up before the Vita-mix came into my world is 50% off on until Monday. 

Besides being a super-duper-rocket-booster blender the thing I love most about the Vita-mix is the ability to grind my own grains.  It’s so much healthier to grind your own and so so easy in the Vita-mix.  However, it would be equally easy to grind them in a good grain mill which you can get for about $250.  At the end of yesterday, after obsessively googling food processor vs. Vita-mix all evening, I had all but decided to take back the Vita-mix and get a food processor and grain mill instead.  But then today when I made a smoothie with spinach and hemp protein and berries - in seconds - that my kids slurped up for their afterschool snack and which prevented Ava’s usual afterschool crash, and which was a snap to clean up, I felt like I was back to square one.  I really, really, really like this blender.  Adding it’s two cents into my “Vita-mix or not to Vita-mix” debate was a homemade butterscotch pudding recipe I came across today that blended a can of butternut squash, a splash of almond milk and a melted banana in the Vita-mix until warm and thick and wonderful.  Ummm... yes please!

Final verdict?  I DON’T KNOW!!!!!!!  I don’t have one.  I don’t want it to be food processor OR Vita-mix.  I want to employ the genius of the and.  I just don’t know how wise that would be on the old pocketbook. You know?  I’m in indecisive hell right now.  What would you do?


  1. I just don't think you gave it a fair shot!! Maybe you should take a bunch more weird ingredients and see it they make something ............ yummy ???

  2. I was feeling stressed by the end of your post. What to do? What to do?