Green stories, by Lesley

The musings of Lesley Lopes about the journey to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Testing the Vitamix

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A very simple, creamy and smooth Hummus recipe from the Vitamix book, made in just four minutes.

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Vitamix's Strawberry Yoghurt Freeze.

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We used the Vitamix to make green smoothies for Green Lifestyle magazine, stuffing in whole kale leaves and ice cubes. See the Nov/Dec issue for our green smoothie recipes.

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Using a blender to make juices and smoothies is an easy way of boosting your intake of fruits and vegetables. Using a high-speed blender adds an element of ease and finesse – and allows you to make foods that are said to be healthier for you.

I found it also means less preparation – the Vitamix turns big chunks of fruit, ice cubes, whole nuts and whole leafy green into grit-free drinks and purees. It comes with a long implement called a tamper that you poke through a hole in the lid and use for pushing the ingredients into the spinning blades.

The high-speed blending/chopping action is said to break down the cell walls of foods, releasing more nutrients that are more readily absorbed by the body than with food made in ordinary blenders. Much of the time you simply pile in the ingredients, start the machine on low and then gradually crank up the dial to a high-speed setting. If you blend for long enough – say, seven minutes – the ultra-fast spinning action of the blades will heat up the contents enough to make soup ready for eating.

I made my Vitamix debut with a very simple Hummus recipe from a book that came in the box with the machine: two tins of chickpeas, some sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, a glove of garlic thrown in whole, and some cumin and salt. It was just a case of putting everything into the Vitamix in the order suggested in the recipe, starting the machine on low and then increasing speed to Variable 10. The result: a very creamy, deliciously garlicky mixture in about four minutes.

A browse through the database of recipes on the Vitamix website brings up everything from bread, dips and chocolate mousse to dressings, pancakes, nut butters and nut milks. I used the Vitamix recipe book as a way of testing out the machine’s capabilities. I turned its Strawberry Yoghurt Freeze into Mum’s Berry Surprise by substituting strawberry yoghurt and frozen strawberries with raspberry yoghurt and frozen mixed berries – the surprise being my son, who says he doesn’t like yoghurt, came back for seconds. This healthy ice-cream substitute had only three ingredients – the third being a little optional sugar – and it took just 45 seconds to whip until the required four mounds appeared on the surface of the mixture. Mine didn't turn out quite as firm as that shown in the picture attached to this story, but it was exceedingly tasty.

Likewise, my Vanilla Ice-cream was more of a thickshake consistency. I think it had something to do with leaving the cream on the kitchen bench for five or so minutes before getting started. Next time I’ll make sure everything is as cold as it can be. I'm keen to try making it again as it was so simple - the main ingredient was frozen vanilla milk.

I wanted to test the Vitamix’s chopping ability because part of the machine’s claim to fame is that it can replace many kitchen appliances and gadgets. I opted for the carrot and potato röstis from the Vitamix cookbook. All they required were putting large chunks of peeled potato and carrot in the Vitamix and pulsing the machine a few times. The consistency of the vegies was somewhere between a fine chop and a grate – and when mixed with some egg they were easy to fry in patties for topping with salmon and cream cheese.

The Vitamix blades make light work of tough items such as pineapple cores. You don’t even have to cut off strawberry stalks or get rid of all apple or pear pips – which are very nutritious according to the chap doing Vitamix demos at the recent Sustain expo in Melbourne. We used the Vitamix for making green smoothies for a magazine feature article, stuffing in whole kale leaves and ice cubes. The mixture was delightfully chunk-free (see the Nov/Dec issue of Green Lifestyle magazine for some green smoothie recipes).

The price tag of $995 for the basic machine will be a drawback for many home cooks, but if you’re the kind of person who makes smoothies for breakfast every day and you're serious about getting into homemade, additive-free soups, dips and sweet treats, it could be worth your while.

For more information visit www.vitamix.com.au