Archive for the ‘ Vita-Mix 5200 recipes and experiences ’ Category

Collection of Vitamix 5 star recipes

At the request of a family member who called me asking about my hiyashi-chuuka sauce recipe, saying they couldn’t find it on this blog, I’ve put together a collection of all the 5-star recipes I’ve posted to date:

Dips and Sauces
Hummus
(video)
Hiyashi-chuuka (冷やし中華) sauce
Yogurt Herb Sauce

Drinks
The Best Tasting Banana Milk (half soy milk, half milk, I also really like adding roasted soybeans to banana milks made with just milk (video))
Hot Chocolate

Frozen Piña Coladas
Homemade Frozen Mocha Frappuccino

Sorbets and Italian Ices
Fresh Peaches Sorbet
Homemade Grown-up Polar Cup

Other
Homemade Peanut Butter (video)
Kinako Powder
Acorn Squash Soup

There’s plenty of stuff I rated four stars that I still make pretty regularly, but this is a pretty good representation of most of my favorite uses for my Vitamix blender.

Why would I spend so much money on a Vitamix Blender?

I definitely understand how crazy it sounds to some people to spend three figures on a blender. I deliberated myself for a few weeks before I finally decided to buy my first Vitamix blender, and I started this blender blog in part to make sure I kept using the blender.

Two years later, I have no regrets, and would encourage people who are on the fence to buy a Vitamix. In this post, I’ll try to articulate the reasons I think a Vitamix blender is worth the price, focusing on some key points and sharing my personal experiences.

 

Extremely High Performance Blender

Almost everyone would agree that Vitamix makes phenomenal blenders. Impartial reviews universally praise the Vitamix. One such example is a blender showdown by Popular Mechanics, where the Vitamix 5200 had the smoothest results of the five manufacturers that were tested, and Vitamix shares the top spot in the most recent Consumer Reports blender rankings.

Yes, there are other high performance blenders available, but it’s good to be aware of difference between an average blender you might find at a big box store and a high quality, high powered blender. Peanut butter and hummus made with fresh sesame seeds instead of tahini paste are examples of things that you just can’t make in your average blender.

But even if you’re not interested in making something that demanding, the texture difference between an inexpensive blender and a high powered blender is profound. Something as simple as a frozen banana and milk or ice cubes and fresh fruit is amazing with the right texture. I love Hawaiian shave ice, or as it’s called in Japan, かき氷 (kakigori), but I have virtually no interest in snow cones, and the only difference is texture. Whether it’s frozen treats, soups, dips or sauces, if the texture is better, the end results tastes better.

 

Extremely Good Customer Service

I have killed my fair share of less expensive blenders. The ice cubes and frozen bananas I mentioned above that blend in my Vitamix have both been culprits in the early demise of cheaper blenders. Most, if not all, of those blenders probably had a one-year warranty, and broke inside the first year. I didn’t have any of them replaced with their warranty because I have jumped through similar hoops with other household products (most recently an electric blanket) and it usually ends up being more hassle than it’s worth, even if you did keep the receipt.

I will admit, I have a very low tolerance for automated call centers that ask me to enter model numbers with my touch tone phone and/or it require navigating multiple menus and a lengthy hold time before speaking with a representative reading from a script.

One of the reasons I purchased my Vitamix is because of the experience I had when I first called them to ask a few questions about their blender while I was on the fence. I almost immediately spoke with a real person who was very knowledgeable and answered all of my questions and concerns. I felt like, if I ever did have an issue with my blender, they would actually take care of me.

Sure enough, they did. I’ve actually had two issues with my blender, and both times, I was shocked with how good Vitamix’s service was.

My first issue, which is detailed in this post, was likely something I was partially responsible for, as I was throwing peanut butter, mochi, squash and a lot of other tough ingredients in the blender to see what it could handle. When a piece of the blender finally broke, I called Vitamix. I spoke with a representative who explained the piece that broke was designed to break under high stress to protect the rest of the blender.  She sent me out a prepaid shipping label to send everything back to VitaMix at no charge.

Less than two weeks later, I had my repaired blender back, along with a brand new blender jar, and it hadn’t cost me a dime, only a few minutes on the phone.

I was very impressed, but my second experience with Vitamix support was even better. I liked my Vitamix so much that I bought a Vitamix 7500, planning to give my 5200 to my parents for Christmas. I stuck the wrong tamper into the 7500 blender running on high and, well, there’s a picture over in this old post that’s worth a thousand words.

I called Vitamix with a mea culpa, explaining that I had done something very dumb, damaging both the blade assembly and my tamper, expecting to pay to fix one or both damaged items. Not only did Vitamix support say they would replace both under warranty, but when I explained that I was heading to Florida soon for Christmas, and that I was bringing the 5200, without blinking, the woman I was speaking with asked for my parents’ address, saying they’d try to get the tamper to my parents’ house before Christmas, and would send the blade assembly for the new blender to my house so it’d be waiting when I got back home.

In January of this year, when I was able to get a Pro 300 for free from work, they let me return my 7500 without any trouble, paying for the return shipping.  I cannot think of another company with customer service that can hold a candle to those three experiences.

 

Extremely Long Warranty

Vitamix’s standard warranty is seven years. Those customer service stories I shared above? They’re even more amazing when you consider that you are covered for seven years when you buy a new Vitamix blender. Even when you buy a reconditioned blender from Vitamix, it comes with a 5-year warranty, standard.

 

Extremely Long History

One of things that surprised me about my Vitamix is that is made in the USA. I just checked, and it is the only kitchen appliance in my house that is made in the USA, and even states proudly on the label that it is “made with a minimum of 70% U.S.A. content.” (I have a high quality Zojirushi rice cooker that is made in Japan, but outside of my rice cooker and Vitamix, every other appliance in my kitchen is, you guessed it, made in China.)

Image

Vitamix was founded in America three generations ago back when high quality kitchen appliances were built in America and built to last. They’re actually still making high quality kitchen appliances in America that are built to last.

Their current president is the great-grandson of the founder, and no blender manufacturer has been around as long, or been as focused on blenders, as Vitamix. That seven year warranty I mentioned above provides that much more piece of mind when you realize that seven years is less than a tenth of the company’s history.

 

Extremely Good Controls

Maybe this doesn’t deserve it’s own subheading, and what I’m about to go into is certainly personal preference, but I want to mention the controls. I’ve had more than one person ask me about the analog dial and switches compared to other blenders with presets and buttons.

My parents replaced there older electric stove top with a new one with an LCD that offers, L, 2-9 and H for each burner. They like it, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who prefer that, but I very much prefer having my natural gas stove, and the analog controls that go with it. That’s how I feel about the controls on my Vitamix. I don’t want to press a button with the assumption that 60 seconds is the right amount of time for the texture I’m looking for, I’d rather have control over the strength and duration.

The pulse option of the 7500 is a nice feature I occasionally use, but even if I went back to using a 5200, I’d prefer those controls over something just buttons and presets. (This is coming from a computer nerd.)  My view point is obviously not universal, as Vitamix offers more than one version of the 7500/Pro 300 that does have presets.

 

Should everyone go out and buy a blender this expensive and this nice? Absolutely not. I’m one of those people that falls into the category of regular blender user and I think it’s a wonderful kitchen appliance for people who will use it regularly.

When my family moved from Japan to America after the March 11th earthquake, we had to get rid of all our electrical appliances that wouldn’t work with American voltage, which included the blender my wife had gotten me as a gift years earlier.  She bought me a nice blender because I told her about my history of killing cheap ones making frozen drinks.  The one blender she had bought me in Japan survived more frozen drinks than all the blenders I had gone through in high school and college.

The satisfaction I derived from using a quality blender in Japan, contrasted with the frustrations of dealing with blenders jamming, breaking and leaving chunks pushed me to finally spending the money to buy a nice blender in the states. I was worried that I’d regret the decision, to the point that I started this blog to maximize the chances I wouldn’t, which is ironic, because years later, the reason the blog has seen the 50+ posts that it has is because it’s one of my favorite purchases.

My uncle has an impressive collection of high quality tools. His motto on quality products is: “You can cheap out on a tool, and regret the decision every time the tool breaks or isn’t up to a task. Or, you can spend the extra money on a quality tool, where you might feel some regret when you first pay for it, but every time you go to use that tool after that, you’ll be glad you have it.”

I think that sums it up pretty well.

 

If you are wondering whether the 7500 or 5200 is right for you, I recommend this post: Is the Vitamix 7500 worth the extra money?
Buying a Vitamix on a budget?  I talk about the refurbished option in this post:  How to get a Vita-Mix 7500 (for a great price!)
If you do decide to buy a Vitamix, I recommend buying direct from Vitamix.com.

Making a Banana Milk in the Vitamix 7500 and Vitamix 5200 side-by-side (with video)

One of the very first things I made with my 5200, and one of the reasons I bought it, was Banana Milk.  Basically, blend a frozen banana and milk.  It’s awesome.  Unfortunately, it will eventually (or quickly) break normal (weaker) blenders, and getting the entire banana blended so there are no chunks left takes time or a good blender.

Now, with the 5200, I got pretty good at learning how to use the tamper to quickly make awesome banana milks with no chunks, but I wanted to see if the 7500 could do the job in a reasonably similar amount of time without using a tamper.  I also just wanted to blend something in my 7500, and I knew my son would help me drink the second banana milk.

I made a video, which is below, but the summary is:  Yes, the Vitamix 7500 handles a frozen banana without a tamper better than the 5200, likely because of a combination of the larger jar circumference and improved power.  I would likely still use a tamper regardless, but who knows, maybe with the right mix of milk to banana, I might find myself skipping the tamper altogether for future banana milks.

Anyone interested in asking questions about the 7500, 5200 or the differences between the two?  Let me know in the comments!  Anyone interested either of the blenders in the video?  (The Certified Reconditioned Vitamix 5200 or the new Vitamix 7500?)  They’re both at Vitamix.com and you can get free shipping with coupon code: 06-006651)

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

Bachelor Man Green Smoothies (★★★★☆) and I ordered a Vitamix 7500!

My family is finally back home after spending five weeks in Japan without me.  (I will be able to get time off work to accompany them year, but work kept me from being able to go this year.)

While they were gone, I used my blender a lot, as my cooking skills are limited when it comes to recipes that don’t involve a blender.  I made a frozen mocha drinks, peanut butter, banana milk and the like, but what I made almost every single day was a particular combination of vegetables that I figured I’d share the recipe, as I’m pretty fond of it.

Bachelor Man Green Smoothies (★★★★☆)
2-3 cups of spinach
half a green bell pepper
half a large cucumber
3-4 stalks of celery
cilantro to taste (I was using a lot)
small slice of fresh ginger
1 apple (I wasn’t very particular on what kind, but not huge)

I’d blend all that up, and by the end of the five weeks I found myself adding water to start because it made the blending easier, but early on, I’d try to blend it with as little water as possible, bike in to work with a biking water bottle filled with the dense mix and mix it about 1:1 with cold water from the water cooler at work to enjoy throughout the day.

I am sure that that mix does not sound attractive to people who haven’t had green smoothies, but as a fan of ginger, cilantro and spinach, the above mix seems to be the ingredients that consistently hit the spot.  The four star rating is basically only because I recognize that other people won’t be nearly the fan of this that I am, but it is my favorite green smoothie.  (For whatever reason, apples seem to work better than everything else as a light sweetener.)

Now, the other news is that I actually did go ahead and order a Vitamix 7500.  On a lark, I called up the person at Vitamix that I bought my blender from, and was asking about the 7500. Turns out that she’s actually had a few people mention that they called her because of the post I made in 2011, and she said she’d love for me to share her details again:  Brenda Kilbane at Vitamix, 1-800-848-2649, extension 2305, and free shipping code 06-006651.

Turns out that if you’re an existing Vitamix 5200 owner, you can trade in your 5200 for $100 off.  Now, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to do that, but it’s cool that there is a trade-in option. Another available option was that I can try the 7500 for 30 days and return it without paying anything, which makes trying out the 7500 risk free.  Since that’s the case, I decided I’d like to try the Vitamix 7500 and 5200 side-by-side and see how they both perform in different mixes.  One of the main things that prompted this is the amount of using the tamper and/or adding water that I was using for the Bachelor Man Green Smoothies above, and I did decide I want to try the 7500 out for myself and see how it might perform.

If the 7500 is a better blender, I’ll likely keep the 7500 and give my 5200 to my folks for Christmas.  They were crazy about my blender the last time they visited, so I know they’d like it and get a lot of use out of it, and I’d be happy to keep the blender I’m most comfortable with.  If the 7500 doesn’t seem like an improvement to me, I’ll probably return the 7500 and keep the 5200.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get my parents a refurbished Vitamix 5200, since it’s substantially cheaper than the 7500.

Expect to see some updates in the near future on how the 5200 and the 7500 stack up side by side.  If anyone has any specific questions about the 7500, just let me know!

Hiyashi-chuuka (冷やし中華) sauce (★★★★★) and a busy blender afternoon

My wife and kids are still away, which means I’ve been fending for myself.  Just this afternoon I made a green smoothie (two small apples, four large sticks of celery, half a bag of spinach, some lemon juice, half a green bell pepper and a few ice cubes), peanut butter and a frozen mocha drink.  My wife’s cooking is both delicious and very healthy, and I’m regularly drinking green smoothies while she’s away in hopes of keeping the fruits and vegetables a reasonable chunk of my diet, they’re easy to make and easy to drink.  So far I think I’ve fended for myself pretty well.

One of the things I plan to cook for myself in the next few days is Hiyashi Chuuka, which is several orders of magnitude better than any explanation of it that I give will sound, but essentially, it’s chilled ramen(-esque) noodles with a soy and miso or sesame based sauce usually topped with some combination of sliced cucumbers, egg, ham, carrots and/or tomatoes.  Like I said, it’s way better than I make it sound, and with the sesame dressing, it’s one of my top five favorite meals.

The recipe for the sauce is simple enough, and is somewhat similar to the Creamy Sesame Dipping Sauce we use for vegetables dipping, in that they both start by blending a good amount of white sesame seeds.  Once the sauce is made, chopping up the vegetables, egg and ham is also easy, and the noodles just need to be cooked and chilled.  The only tricky thing about trying to make this dish in the states is that finding the right kind of noodles.  While cheap instant ramen is definitely not the right kind of noodle, you can use those noodles in a pinch (just throw the seasoning packet away) and it’s not bad.

Here’s the recipe for the sauce:

Hiyashi-chuuka (冷やし中華) Sauce (★★★)
3 tablespoons of white sesame seeds
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar (can be substituted with other vinegars if necessary)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Chicken bouillon (half of an extra large cube)
Water 4 table spoon
 
First, blend the white sesame first into powder, then add other ingredients and blend.  Chill before serving.

That should be enough to serve between 2-4 people, depending on how much sauce people want and the portion size.  Just pour that over the noodles and toppings, and then eat.

Definitely one of my favorite things to eat, and while instant ramen noodles don’t do it justice, if you haven’t had this before, and they’re the only noodles you have available, it’s still very good that way. 🙂

Homemade Frozen Mocha Frappuccino (★★★★★)

This is one I’ve made about 50 or so times already, but I started tweaking it back in March and didn’t ever get around to posting the exact recipe.  It is by no means meant to be the same as a Starbucks Mocha Frappucchino, but it’s the result of several tweaks over time to a recipe I found online that has evolved into something I like much more than a Frappucchino.  It’s far less sweet, far healthier frozen drink. (a Venti Starbucks Mocha Frappucchino has 500 calories and 79g of sugar!)

The trick to this recipe is to freeze some coffee in advance.  I personally don’t care whether it’s ice coffee or fresh brewed hot coffee that I freeze after brewing it, either way tastes great to me.  Stronger coffee tastes better in my opinion.

Homemade Frozen Mocha Frappuccino Drink (★★★★★)

1 cup (or units) of frozen coffee (the stronger, the better)
2 cups (or units) of whole milk
2 packets of stevia sweetener (or sweeten to taste)
Cocoa Powder to taste (about a level tea spoon)
Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup (a 1-2 second squeeze.  I add this because it adds a little bit of real sugar which helps with the stevia and adds a bit of “chocolate” flavor to the cocoa powder)

Originally, I added all the ingredients to the blender and blended, but lately I’ve been adding everything but the coffee and blending for about a minute on high, that whips up the milk and gives it a thicker body and creamier taste.  if I’m making more or less than normal, I add the milk and frozen coffee in their normal 2:1 ratio, but only add one stevia packet, less than normal cocoa powder and just a dab of chocolate.  That way I can add stevia, cocoa powder and/or chocolate syrup to taste.  If the coffee and milk is too strong, a few ice cubes lightens the drink up.

Personally, I like this better than anything I’ve had at a coffee shop.  I’m a fan of bitter chocolate and frozen drinks, but I don’t like overly sweet or heavy drinks.  In this recipe, the stevia works pretty well as a sweetener, although that extra bit of real sugar from the chocolate syrup really helps.

Unlike Hummus, Peanut Butter and even Banana Milk, this recipe probably doesn’t need a Vitamix or Blendtec caliber blender, but it does help a lot with the texture.  If anyone tries this in a normal blender, I’d be interested in the results.

Creamy Sesame Dipping Sauce (★★★★☆)

Creamy Sesame Dipping Sauce (★★★★☆)
This is a great dip for raw or steamed vegetables, and I highly recommend it
3 tablespoons of white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of chopped ginger
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1.5-2 tablespoons of sugar (to taste)
1 tablespoon of sake (Japanese cooking wine, or if that’s not available, water)
1 teaspoon miso
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar (can be substituted with other vinegars if necessary)
 
First, blend the white sesame first into powder, then add other ingredients and blend.  Chill before serving.

That’s it.  It’s extremely good, and in addition to being great with raw and steamed vegetables, it’s also a great dressing/dip for tofu.