Archive for September, 2011

Minty Green Smoothie

Another morning, another Banana Milk. πŸ™‚

This afternoon for lunch, however, I tried making something different.Β  After finishing the γ‚ͺムラむス that my wife cooked, I was still hungry, so I made a green smoothie to bring back to the office with me:

Easy Drinking Minty Green Smoothie (β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†)
Not sure what else to call it, but the name does a good job of describing it

1 romaine lettuce heart
a few dozen mint leaves
1 banana
1 fresh Jonamac apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
ice cubes

Blend the fruit and greens until their liquified, then add ice to to create the desired level of frozen smoothie consistency.

I think I only added six ice cubes, as I just wanted it cold not frozen.Β  The drink was remarkably easy to drink, but anyone who’s been reading the last few days is seeing a strong pattern of a banana and Jonamac apple going into everything.

I wanted to give this four stars, but I want to avoid inflating scores, and feel like I should experiment with this combination more, and maybe find a fruit combination that better complements the tasty mint and easy drinking romaine.Β  The Green Smoothie Revolution book I got with my Vitamix seems to mention both mango and peach in a few different recipes with mint, so maybe I’ll have to try to peach.Β  Any other suggestions?

Tasty Tuesday blended smoothies

When I woke up this morning, I wanted something simple, so I ate puffed wheat cereal and made a Banana Milk.Β  Nothing fancy, but it was a good breakfast.Β  And I got the hang of making a non-lumpy Banana Milk.Β  It helps to keep the tamper in when blending, as it keeps the liquid from bouncing out of control, and it also helps to slowly dial up to whatever speed the banana stays under control at, gradually increasing power until the banana has been blended in, then cranking it up to high for a few seconds to really whip the drink up and ensure the banana is thoroughly blended.

For lunch, I was pretty hungry by the time I came home, so I whipped up another Banana Milk to drink while I made a sandwich.Β  The Banana Milks are so quick to make, easy to clean up and tasty that despite having already had one that morning, I wanted another one.

After throwing together a quick sandwich, I knew I needed to be back at the office quicker than usual due to a business trip that afternoon, so I threw together a V7:

V7 Vegetable Drink (β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†)
Basically, it was whatever seven partially eaten vegetables I had lying around

Β½ cup of tomato puree
Β½ yellow bell pepper
ΒΌ eggplant
ΒΌ onion
6 sticks of baby asparagus from the refrigerator, steamed the night before
ΒΌ celery stalk (the remaining quarter still in the fridge)
1 cabbage leaf (this was just for variety)
several sprigs of cilantro
water (for desired thickness)
salt (to taste)

Blend everything but the salt and water, taste, add salt and water for desired flavor and thickness

This was pretty good.Β  I don’t want to oversell it, so I only gave it three stars, but when this is what you get from the random leftover vegetables in your fridge, it’s a pleasant surprise.Β  As far as “stuff I accidentally made from leftovers” go, it’s well above average.Β  Of course, the secret ingredient is salt, as anyone who’s tried both V8 and low sodium V8 can attest to.Β  I didn’t go crazy with the salt, but it certainly helped.

Later today, after finishing dinner, I was still pretty hungry and wanted something sweet, so I decided to try adding some cocoa powder to a banana milk for something cold, sweet and chocolatey:

Bitter Chocolate Banana Milk (β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†)
Basically a banana milk with some cocoa powder added

1 frozen banana
cocoa powder

Adjust the amount of milk for the right consistency, and add the desired amount of cocoa powder.Β  Slowly increase the speed until the banana is properly blended in with the milk, then mix on high for 15 seconds.

That turned out pretty good, but not amazing.Β  There’s something really, really good about just a plain Banana Milk, and the addition of cocoa powder didn’t really help things.Β  Or, it was just that it was my third Banana Milk of the day, and my body was trying to stop me from making this a regular part of every meal.

After the third Banana Milk, I was still thirsty, or just craving something, so I decided to make another vegetable smoothie to sate me, this time using the remaining carrot and onion from my wife’s cooking:

V6 Vegetable Drink (β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†)

Β½ cup of tomato puree
Β½ peeled carrot
ΒΌ onion
1 cabbage leaf
a handful of mustard greens
several sprigs of cilantro
12 ice cubes(for a frozen smoothie consistency)
salt (to taste)

Blend everything but the ice cubes, then add ice cubes through the top of the lid while the blender is on high.

I know, I know…I counted the cilantro as a vegetable when it got me to V6, but not when it would have gotten me to V8…Β  V8’s been taken already, and V6 sounds better than V5, so I’m using artistic license to dub them V6 and V7 respectively.Β  Totally drinkable, but not as good as what I made this afternoon.

Another post I made today that I don’t want to see go unread as a result of posting this one right after it is the how and why I got my Vita-Mix 5200.Β  I think it’ll be especially useful and interesting for anyone who’s considering getting their own.

How to get a Vita-Mix 5200 (for a great price!)

I’ve been posting about me using my Vitamix 5200, and I figure it’d be a good idea to share some information about how I ended up getting one.

There was a ridiculous sale on a refurbished Blendtec blender on Fat Wallet.Β  The original post originally said that the coupon was good until September 2nd without mentioning an expiration date for the blender price, and since it was still a good chunk of money, my wife suggested that we sleep on it, since we believed we had until the 2nd to purchase the blender at that price.

As sad as it might sound, while I was asleep that night, I had a dream about a using an awesomely powerful blender, and when I woke up in the morning, I was sure I wanted to order it.Β  Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, the reduced price of the blender had only been good for the previous day.

The good news was that in my hunt to find a similar great deal on a blender in the days that followed, I found plenty of negative posts about that specific refurbished Blendtec item and the company that’d been selling them for that price.Β  While I’m sure Blendtec blenders are good, buying a “refurbished” blender that’s not actually refurbished by the manufacturer from a company that is shipping broken and heavily used units wasn’t a route I wanted to consider going down.

I decided that if I was going to spend upwards of $100 on a blender, I may as well do it right, so I researched both Blendtec and Vita-Mix some more, as well as other blender makers.Β  Rather than trying to find the cheapest deal, I was now trying to find a great deal on a great product that came with a great warranty.

At the end of the day, my own personal conclusion was that both the Vita-Mix and BlendTec blenders looked like fantastic devices, and that I wanted either the Vitamix 5200 or the BlendTec Total Blender, and that I wanted to make sure it came with a good warranty and in good condition.Β  I tried to find deals at places like Bed Bath & Beyond or online, but when I’d find what looked like a good deal, such as a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond, the fine print would exclude Vitamix and Blendtec products.

Now, I wasn’t worried about cosmetic scratches, and both companies offered refurbished models directly from their website with multi-year warranties, so I decided the best price and best course of action would probably be to contact both companies directly through their “contact us” forms on their webpages.

BlendTec never got back to me, but Vita-Mix did.Β  I received an e-mail answering all my questions and giving me the contact information for Brenda, the sales woman who would later sell me my blender.Β  My main concern was that there would be a better deal or coupon that would be worth waiting for, and she assured me that free shipping was the best coupon I’d find for Vita-Mix, and that even their refurbished model came with a full five year warranty.Β  (The coupon code for free shipping is 06-006651)Β  That made me comfortable in knowing that I really wasn’t going to get a better deal, so I bought the refurbished 5200, which came with some other goodies along with the free shipping, and that was the start of this blog here!Β  It’s worth mentioning that the 5200 looked brand new when I received it, and I have no complaints so far.

Again, if anyone is interested in getting a Vita-Mix 5200 for the best possible price, assuming that they still have it, I highly recommend the refurbished 5200.Β  While you can see their products here, you can also call them directly, and I highly recommend speaking with Brenda Kilbane.Β  Since I think she’d be happy to speak with anyone who’s interested in buying a Vita-Mix, I assume she’d be OK with me sharing her contact details here:Β  1-800-848-2649, extension 2305, and use the 06-006651 coupon code for free shipping.

So there we go, that’s how I got my blender, and how you can get your own.Β  Now I can get back to talking about what I can make with my blender. πŸ™‚

Edit: I actually used my warranty.Β  You can read about my experience here.Β  The short version is that VitaMix’s support team is very good.

Update (3/23/2013):Β  In addition to the refurbished 5200 I mentioned, there is now a refurbished 7500/Pro 300/Creations Elite available.Β  I wrote a post about it, and I think it’s a fantastic option to consider for anyone thinking about picking up a Vitamix.

Decimated potatoes and green smoothies

Finished up the rest of yesterday’s hummus at dinner and had another two green smoothies (the first basically a variant of this morning) today.Β  In addition to the final green smoothie of the day, the other blender based food that graced our table tonight was mashed potatoes.Β  Except they weren’t mashed…Β  They were decimated.

Spicy Mustard Green Smoothie (β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†)
Definitely not for most people, but totally drinkable

A few bunches of mustard greens
1 banana
1 fresh Jonamac apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
some fresh apple juice
lots of ice cubes

Blend everything but the ice cubes, and then add ice cubes until it has a thick, icy consistency.

Decimated Potatoes (β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†)
Most of the way to potato soup, but caught in the dead man’s zone between soup and mashed potatoes

3-4 boiled potatoes
1 tablespoon of italian cheese & herb cooking creme cheese
A splash of milk
1 tablespoon of butter

Quickly dial from 1 to 10, then shift into high and blend for 45 seconds or so.
Not only were the decimated potatoes way too liquified, it actually caused a bit of an odor from my Vitamix 5200.Β  My guess is that the mashed potatoes were taxing the limits of the blender.Β  It’s worth noting that it didn’t automatically shut off, and worked fine when I went to clean up later, so I’m guessing no permanent damage was done, but I still won’t be making them again any time soon.

The spicy mustard flavor of the green smoothie is almost certainly not for everyone, but as someone who ate a lot of spicy mustard in Japan, I’m actually kind of bizarrely enjoying it when it’s cold and watered down.Β  It’s a strange hot and cold at the same time that makes it passable.Β  That said, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

Great green smoothie this morning

Similar to yesterday good green smoothie, and possibly even a little better:

Great Green Smoothie v1.1 (β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†)
Definitely easy drinkable, and something I found myself craving more of once it was gone.

100g of fresh spinach leaves
1 fresh Jonamac apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
1 frozen banana
a splash of orange juice

blend on high for 60 seconds.

My first Sunday with the blender (Dal Curry Soup, Good and Bad Green Smoothies and Hummus)

So today was a pretty busy day for my new Vitamix 5200 blender.Β  In fact, I’ve used it far more this weekend than I thought you could use a blender in a weekend.Β  What can I say?Β  I like my new toy, and when clean up is as easy as putting a few drops of dish soap in with water and turning it on again, it’s not like there’s much reason to not use it.

The first thing I made this morning was Banana Milk, again.Β  I figure I’ll list out my recipes today, in case anyone’s interested in the details:

Banana Milk (β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
This simple combination is amazing in any blender strong enough to sufficiently blend up a frozen banana

1 frozen banana

Adjust the level of milk to taste, blend for a creamy, milkshake-esque drink.Β  (Edit:Β  The best technique is to break the banana into two or three parts before putting in the blender, then blending with the tamper in, slowly raising the speed to just below whatever speed the banana bounces out of control at.Β  Use less milk than needed, and then add milk for the desired consistency after the banana is blended in already.)

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this morning’s banana milk had a piece of frozen banana that kept being bounced up above the rest of the contents, and I just could get it out at high speed.Β  Maybe I cranked up to 10 and then high too fast?Β  Maybe it needs to be done at a lower speed until the banana is blended?Β  Maybe the quantity was too little?Β  I’ll figure it out.

I had a toasted frozen waffle and the banana milk for breakfast, but we were going to a Sunday Japanese language program my son is in, and I knew I’d be hungry before lunch if I didn’t have something more, so just before we left, I made a Tasty Green Smoothy.

Tasty Green Smoothie (β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†)
Seriously, it’s pretty good

100g of fresh spinach leaves
1 fresh Jonamac apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
12-15 frozen raspberries
a splash of orange juice

blend on high for 60 seconds.

It was surprisingly good.Β  The best green smoothie I’ve had so far to be sure.

That afternoon, after we returned home, I figured I’d make some Hummus to tide us over until dinner, since we’d had a very light lunch.Β  The recipe was pretty much straight from the cookbook that came with the Vita-Mix, and it was pretty good:

Hummus (β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)
Hummus tastes good.Β  This tastes great.

2 Goya cans of Chick Peas/Garbanzos (15.5 oz), one strained, one with all the water from the can
ΒΌ cup of raw sesame seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
ΒΌ cup of lemon juice
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon cumin

Now, the original recipe called for some salt, to season to taste, but it was pretty darn good without any salt, and we enjoyed it on naan bread and celery sticks.Β  My wife lamented the lack of pita chips in the house, which would have been a nice way to enjoy it.

Since I was on a good streak, I figured I’d make another green smoothie, the Worst Green Smoothie Ever.

Worst Green Smoothie Ever (β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†)
I award this no stars, and may God have mercy on those who try this.

1 bunch of mustard greens
1 frozen banana
1 fresh Jonamac apple, quartered with seeds and stem removed
way too much fresh ginger

Mustard greens probably don’t belong in green smoothies at all, but potent ginger combined with it to really keep it from being something anyone would want to drink.Β  I watered it down and cooled it with ice cubes, and cold and diluted enough it was merely bad and actually drinkable.Β  Now I’m trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the mustard greens I’ve got.Β  I don’t think belong in green smoothies.

For dinner, I slightly altered the Vitamix Dal Soup that’s in the Vita-Mix Whole Foods cookbook, and was pleasantly surprised with the result.

Vitamix Dal Soup (β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†)
Too watery to be curry, but really thick for a soup.Β  The fine red chilli pepper powder gives it the kick it needs.

1 cup dried lentils
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
6 cups (total) of hot water (from my Zojirushi water boiler*)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
Β½ teaspoon cumin
ΒΌ teaspoon ground cinnamon
ΒΌ teaspoon ground cloves
4 cardamom seeds
Β½ teaspoon curry powder
1Β½ teaspoons salt
ΒΎ cup tomato puree
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 baked potatoes with skin
4 sprigs of cilantro
fine red chilli pepper powder

1. I washed the two potatoes and then wrapped them in aluminum foil and put them in the oven at 400Β°F.Β  I would have put them in at 350, but I wanted them ready when everything else was done.

2. I washed the lentils several times with cold water until the water stopped clouding, then added the lentils, 1 garlic clove and 3 cups of hot water, and put them on the stove at medium heat.

3. While the potatoes cooked and the lentils absorbed the water, I added all the spices and tomato puree to the blender and turned it on for long enough to chop up the cardamom seeds.Β  While doing this, I was stirring the lentils.

4. I peeled my onion, cut it into pieces and cut up the other garlic clove, then I put them in a 2-quart pot with the olive oil and sautΓ©ed them.Β  While doing this, I was stirring the lentils.

5. Around this time, the lentils were finished, so I turned off the heat, and poured the spiced tomato puree into the pot with the onions and garlic, added another three cups of hot water and brought it to a boil before turning the heat off.

6. I put everything (potatoes, cilantro, lentils, etc.) in the blender, started on variable 1, cranked it up to 10 and then blended it on high.

7. After pouring bowls for my two kids, I added some red chilli powder, poured my wife a bowl, added a bit more red chilli powder and pour myself a bowl.

I added less water than the recipe called for, as I realized it’d be more watery than I’d originally imagined, and the red chilli pepper was another improvisation that I think turned out very well, as I like spicy Asian food.

Everyone enjoyed the soup, and the hummus was brought back out, even if it was a bit of bean overkill. It’s probably the only homecooked meal I’ve had in my life that qualifies as vegan, and that wasn’t intentional.Β  It tasted great, and that’s what I was hoping for.

All in all, four successes and one failure today, and I continue to be very pleased with my blender. πŸ™‚

(*That link is there because I figure otherwise some people won’t know what I’m talking about)

My first Saturday with the blender (Part 3 – Mochi Rice and Green Smoothies)

Today, after we finished lunch, we went to the Asian supermarket where I picked up a number of things I thought would be fun to put in the blender, including もけ米 (mochi rice).Β  The thought process was that if the blender can make peanut butter, it can make mochi…and it can.

I made the mochi basically the same way as I’d make white rice, using our Zojirushi IH rice cooker.Β  That said, it seems that you’re supposed to use slightly less water when making mochi rice.Β  I didn’t know how much slightly less would be, so I just used the same measurements.

When the rice was done, I scooped it into the blender and ran it on Variable around speed 5 or 6.Β  That didn’t seem to be the most efficient method, so I checked out the peanut butter recipe, which called for running it on High.Β  I tried that, and using the tamper, had a lot of luck turning to rice into mochi, albeit with a bit more water than it normally has.

Now, if the scrambled egg clean up was a small amount of work, this was a large amount of work.Β  But since I’m not getting fresh mochi anywhere else while we live in America, it was totally worth it.Β  I put some γ‚γšγ (red bean) on top of the mochi and ate it with a spoon and a smile.

I also continued to experiment with green smoothies, putting the rest of the kale, the rest of the tomato puree and a frozen banana and some water together in a blender.Β  As with the other green smoothies I’ve tried, it’s drinkable, but it’s still not something I’m about to get excited about drinking.Β  That said, between the green smoothie, apple sauce, soup, mochi and eggs, I’ve eaten a huge amount of fresh fruit, vegetables, greens and grains today, and my Vitamix blender has impressed me with it’s blending abilities.