So, a while back I started a discussion on G+ regarding the pros and cons of Vitamix and Blendtec blenders.  The discussion was fairly academic at the time, however.  I had a HealthMaster blender that my mom had given me (that she had purchased the previous year and never really used and was taking up valuable counter space), so I wasn’t in any pressing need for a mega-blender.

However, that changed when the HM decided it couldn’t get through a single blend without the motor overheating.

Dad, can you make me a smoothie?

Sure… just let me put in the ingredients and blend…

whiiirrr… click…

Stupid motor… where’s that reset button?!?  Ah… tink…

whiiirrr… click… tink…

whiiirrr… click… tink…

whiiirrr… click… tink…

whiiirrr… click… tink…

Gaaaahhhh!!!  Here’s your smoothie!  Go away!

Enough was enough, and it was time to find a new blender.  I knew I was going to go for the high-end blender because besides the smoothie thing, I live for my crushed ice, I really like blender soup, and I wanted to start grinding my own flour for some proper course grain breads… Yeah… that’s just how I roll…

So, I started reading reviews in earnest, asking anyone I found with a blender which was better, and pouring over the various spec sheets and tear downs.  What I found was they both had loyal followings and they both had detractors.  From what I can tell, the key points are:

Blendtec:

Pros:

  • Very simple to operate – the blender operates via pre-programmed buttons (soup, smoothie, etc)
  • Single jar for wet or dry blends – no additional jar needed
  • Easy to get all food from jar – lots of room around blades
  • No tamper needed – Blendtec claims their two-blade design eliminates the need for a tamper… there’s some debate on this, but okay
  • 7-year warranty – This appears to be a new development as they had only been offering 3-year warranties.  I imagine they finally changed this to match vitamix
  • It will blend an iphone!!!

Cons:

  • It’s too simple to operate – the programmed buttons don’t really allow for “doing your own thing”
  • The jars tend to need replacing every 2-3 years as the plastic in the drive gear shreds
  • Needs to cool down for roughly an hour if it overheats.

Vitamix:

Pros:

  • Simple to operate – two switches and a dial
  • Various jar sizes available
  • Comes with tamper
  • 7-year warranty
  • Just as strong as a blendtec, so it would probably blend an iphone if you wanted it to, but the four-blade design would probably make it harder to draw the thing down to its inevitable destruction.

Cons:

  • Requires a different jar for dry vs. wet blending
  • Variable speed isn’t really as big a feature as you’d imagine – It’s really just to help you get the blade spinning – if you try to run for an extended period at any speed other than High, you will overheat the motor.
  • It can be hard to get thicker materials (such as a freshly made nut butter) out from under the blades

So, the blenders are pretty evenly matched with no clear winner.  Prices are about the same, as well.  What decided me on the Vitamix, though, was the analog nature of the operation.  I didn’t have to worry about a programmed mode being too long or too short, I simply switch it on, adjust up to high speed and switch it off when I’m done.  Easy peasy.

So, I decided on the Vitamix, and headed off to the brand spanking new Costco that had just opened in town.  Lo and behold, they had the 5200, and it was on sale.  They also had a more expensive “Costo Exclusive” model with… pre-programmed modes and a pulse button… now I wouldn’t mind a pulse button, but I’d already decided on manual operation, so I stuck with the (much) cheaper 5200.

Now since the Met Fit program ended, I’ve been trying to adjust the Mediterranean diet to better fit my life style… not in big ways, it’s a well thought out and satisfying way to view food, but there are certain foods that I missed… Such as the Alton Brown smoothie, I’ve discussed before… I liked starting my day with a smoothie… it made me feel good… and not in a mental game/food dependent sort of way, but in a you’re-eating-healthy-foods-and-getting-good-amounts-of-minerals-fiber-and-vitamins sort of way… which is a good thing… but for the met/med program, it was really too much sugar in a single go… so, I’ve altered it.

The original recipe, if you recall is:

  • 4 oz skim milk
  • 4 oz unsweetened red/purple juice (I like blueberry)
  • 1 whole banana
  • 4 oz fruit #1 (blueberries)
  • 4 oz fruit #2 (strawberries)
  • 4 oz fruit #3 (peaches)

This yielded a delightful 24(ish) oz smoothie which got your day started right, but as I say, that’s a lot of sugar, so I cut out a few things and added in some veg to the mix:

  • 3 oz skim milk
  • 4 oz unsweetened juice (tart cherry – good for the foot)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 3 oz frozen blueberry
  • 4 oz (or a big, honkin’ handful of) kale (I prefer baby kale) – no need to de-stem if you’re rocking a vitamix or blendtec

Voila, we have a delicious smoothie with plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber, but not nearly as much sugar.  It’s a win, win.  Here’s a tip though.  Drop the liquid and the kale in the blender first and give it a 20-30 second “pre-blend”.  Then drop the rest of the ingredients in and give it another 30 seconds.  This blends the kale down to a non-gritty liquid without heating up the rest of the ingredients.  Pour, drink, enjoy!