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Posts Tagged ‘BlendTec’

From the moment I opened my Blendtec on Christmas morning, I’ve planned to use it to make almond butter.  Almond butter is one thing I absolutely refuse to buy on the Rock, because the huge jar of Maranatha that I can pick up in Canada for less than $10 costs over $30 here.  Ridiculous.  So, on Saturday afternoon, I fired up the Blendtec for something other than kale, for once, and figured out how to refill that Maranatha jar all on my own.

I started out with about two cups of raw, whole almonds.  I poured them into the Blendtec jar and, following the Blendtec cookbook instructions for peanut butter, ground them up using first speed level.  I let it run the whole cycle (50 seconds), scraped down the sides, and ran it for a full cycle at speed level 5.  I repeated this – the scraping and level 5 – until it reached the consistency I wanted (VERY creamy).  All in all, it probably took 10-12 50-second cycles at level 5 to get to be the texture I wanted.  I probably could have gotten there quicker at a higher speed, but I’m still in the honeymoon phase with my Blendtec and wanted to take it easy on my baby.

The result?

Success!

Delicious, creamy, perfect almond butter.  I’m so proud.  And SO excited to spread it all over everything in my fridge.

Verdict on Making Almond Butter in a Blendtec:

All in all, I got the perfect result.  The Blendtec did not disappoint in the slightest.  However, I think I could have made the process quicker by using a higher speed. 

Whether or not the Blendtec did a better job than a food processor would have, I’m not sure.  I still would have had to stop and scrape down the sides, but a food processor would probably be better for larger batches, simply because of the wider shape of the food processor bowl, versus the narrower Blendtec blender jar.

Now that I’ve figured out the basics, I’m excited to experiment with flavours and add-ins.  Yum!

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Oatmeal, on the rocks.

The return of the Oats!

Back when I first started this blog, I was eating oatmeal every. single. morning.  I love oatmeal.  I’m an oat-a-holic.  But then I brought home THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS GIFT OF ALL TIME and my poor little oats were left behind.  Unloved.  Unwanted.  Overshadowed by kale.

Well, I recently discovered a way to marry my love for the oat with my love for THE blender.  Oats in my smoothies!  Why did I not think of this before?  I dump so many other randoms in my smoothies…surely oats would be a great addition as well?  I can now answer this.  They are great in smoothies.  They add fiber and bulk while keeping the smoothie…smooth.  Because who wants a gritty smoothie?  I blended a jar of smoothie first (kale, banana, strawberries and a spoonful of manuka honey), and then added a handful of spinach and a sprinkling of oats and blended again until smooth.

Delish.  I love it when food worlds collide.

Served in a stemless wine glass, because sometimes I'm fancy like that.

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Green.

My blender and I had a great weekend.  After the farmer’s market, I was having a hard time fitting all of the produce into the fridge.  Obviously, the easy answer was to use some of it right away.  I crammed a few handfuls of spinach, a few (huge) leaves of dinosaur kale, a banana, a whole orange and some raspberries into the blender jar and hit go.

Doing it's thang.

Finished product.

Lunch of champions.

When I take green smoothies to the office to finish up as lunch, I get a lot of weird looks.  Keep in mind that I live in the land of fried chicken, where even sushi is served with mayo, and where “smoothie” means, for the most part, “milkshake” or ice blended with some kind of sugary fruit syrup.  When I tell inquiring minds what makes my lunch look like swamp sludge, I will inevitably get a look of horror.  I’m OK with that.  My glass of blended green guck has more nutrients in it than many people eat over the course of an entire day…sometimes (unfortunately), even longer than that.  For me, the benefits speak for themselves:

  • better concentration
  • a great wake-up (green smoothies have completely replaced any and all morning coffees, except for that one latte each week that I treat myself with – usually on Fridays)
  • better skin
  • they keep me full until lunch time…and sometimes longer than that

I have no complaints.  Calorie-wise, they vary.  I estimate that my morning smoothies (i.e. 1.5 tall glasses like the one pictured above) range from 150-250 calories, depending on the “add-ins” that day. 

The Layered Look: (from the bottom up) banana, dinosaur kale, maca powder, chia seeds, ground flax seed, almond butter.

The base is always fruit – usually a banana, but I also use oranges, limes, pineapple and all sorts of berries.  I fill most of the jar with greens (they take up a lot of real estate) – normally kale and spinach, because they are normally the only decent greens available!  I might do some experimentation later this week with beet greens…stay tuned.

The “add-ins” can include:

  • Amazing Grass (a superfood powder…great for those of us with nutrient-deficient vegetables)
  • ground flax seed
  • chia seeds
  • maca powder (though, I’m not crazy about the taste…I find it kind of bitter)
  • almond butter (if I know the smoothie needs to “stick” with me for a few hours until my next meal)
  • unsweetened organic shredded coconut
  • cacao nibs
  • hemp seeds

I normally don’t go too crazy on these…my significant other has a hard time with small seeds and such getting stuck in his teeth (poor baby).

Anyways, I know I mention green smoothies A LOT, but that’s because I love ’em!  And I think they are one of the healthiest things you can “treat” yourself with.

Coming soon is a book review on two books dedicated entirely to…you guessed it…green smoothies.

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I have not eaten one bowl of oatmeal in 2010.  How odd.  I blame this on the fact that I returned from Canada with THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL TIME, which now dominates breakfast in our house.  We blend our breakfast.  This morning’s concoction was the greenest yet:

  • banana
  • KALE
  • a whole orange, peeled
  • a whole lime, unpeeled
  • a big spoonful of spirulina

Very…tropical.  I loved it.  Carlos called it “peely”.  Whateves.

Today was a crazy day at work.  I got called upstairs in the morning by the big boss to work on a “quick little project” which I still hadn’t finished by the time I flew out the door at 5:30 to meet some friends for dinner.  I’m thinking it will eat up most of tomorrow as well.  At least it’s interesting and kind of fun. 

I’m falling back into old habits and building up quite a huge virtual shopping cart on Amazon.  Why is Amazon so convenient?  Why do they have to already know my credit card number and all information so that ordering books, quite literally, requires no more than a click or two.  So easy…but so bad.  Bad because I have bookcases full of books that I haven’t yet read, all purchased under similar circumstances…that way too easy click.

On the topic of books, I’ve gotten involved in my book club again.  I say “again” because last year I read one book, attended one meeting, and then flaked out completely during  a month where the book was total crap.  So, I committed back in December to re-join for January’s meeting and anxiously awaited the e-mail announcing the book.  The big winner?

The Shack, by William Paul Young. 

The verdict?  The Crap.

I feel like this is another Eat, Pray, Love situation.  Everyone RAVED about Eat, Pray, Love.  So, obviously, I bought a copy and settled in to read it on a flight from Ottawa to Victoria.  I read as she whined her way through Italy and India and by the time she was whining her way into Indonesia, I was SO over it.  Here is a woman with this amazing gift of having the resources to do whatever the hell she pleases for an entire year, and all she does is whine about it.  I’m not sure I’ve found any written character so annoying.  Ever.

So, back to The Shack.  Another book with huge press and four-thousand-and-something reviews on Amazon (not all of them good, mind you), and claims that it was life changing by people whose opinions I really do respect.  To be fair, I never actually read anything about the book.  I had heard about it and seen it in stores, but never picked it up to read the synopsis and had no idea what it was about.  Ergo, I had no idea that it was a religious book.  The first half isn’t, but the second half is a whole lot of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and to be honest, I can’t get through more than 3 or 4 pages without feeling as though my mind is drifting off onto other things, like taxes or the pile of laundry that is waiting for me.

Maybe, like Eat, Pray, Love, it deserves a second chance.  Though, Eat, Pray, Love wasn’t any more endearing the second time around.  In fact, I don’t even think I made it all the way through India.  Ah, well.

Next month’s read is The 19th Wife: A Novel, which I’m looking forward to.  Big Love is back on TV (season 4 started this month) and I do love those crazy polygamists.  Though, I don’t think that this book takes place in the suburbs.

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Finally!

My computer and WordPress, it would seem, are not the best of friends.  For almost a week, I’ve been unable to access my profile on WordPress and, consequently, unable to update.  No idea what was going on there, but I tried this morning and as you can see…it worked. 

I’ve got a couple of trips coming down the pipes…the first one being a trip to Grand Cayman in March.  I was in Cayman for work last year and was really impressed by it.  It’s similar to our Rock in a lot of ways, but very built up and Americanized, with a lot of comforts of home, such as fast-food restaurants (not super exciting for me, except for the Baskin Robbins), real movie theatres, normal-sized roads (with normal-sized cars) and good friends who we haven’t seen in awhile.  I’m really looking forward to it. 

After that trip was booked last Thursday, we made a quick decision to follow it up with another trip taking place just two weeks later.  On Monday, I booked us tickets to New Yooooooork (concrete jungle where dreams are made of…) to see some friends of ours from Canada and spend a few days wandering, eating and drinking wine.  There may or may not also be some shopping in my plans.  Not going to lie.  I’m so excited.  We haven’t been back to the Big Apple since our Easter trip in 2008, so this is overdue.  Like I said, there are only two weeks between the two trips, which isn’t ideal but we got amazing deals on the flights, so we’re doing this fairly guilt-free.  And then we’ll be here on the Rock for the majority of the summer and maybe even the Fall…enter Rock Fever.   Yikes.

I’ve been doing some cooking lately.  I made another pot of soup on the weekend (Curried Chickpea) from Rebar, yet another winner.  I’ve made it before, but I must have missed something the last time because I don’t remember it being this GOOD.  Seriously.  Bowl-licking good.

Tonight, I have a Thai red curry with shrimp planned.  It’s a new recipe (kind of a hybrid from two cookbooks), so we’ll see how it goes.  I’m on a curry kick lately…must be the dismal weather.

Curry cravings.

 I’m gulping down the last of my green smoothie before getting ready for work.  This morning’s creation was simple:

  • bananas
  • strawberries
  • ground flax seed
  • Amazing Grass (unflavoured)
  • KALE
  • filtered water

Nothing exciting, but delicious nonetheless.  Carlos has gone from being ambivalent about them, to asking for them, to having seconds.  A convert!  Excellent.  I think my BlendTec won him over when it whipped up an amazing batch of salsa with just a few pulses…amazing.

Have I mentioned how much I love my blender?

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A few months back, my mediocre-at-best blender died.  I had pushed it to its limits blending things like unsoaked almonds and frozen bananas and it got to the point where I had to shake it while blending in order to get it to do the job, which isn’t actually a really ideal way to use a blender.  Or safe, really.  Eventually, while blending a mixture of frozen fruit, greens and ice cubes, it sped up (without prompting), shook itself halfway across the counter and then sputtered to a stop.  For good.  I was a bit disappointed for about 5 milliseconds, until I remembered that even at the best of times, I kind of hated this particular appliance.  It was a combination blender and food processor, and didn’t perform either function well.  Like, just pick one.  Seriously.  I vowed that I would save up and buy myself a real blender.  The kind that can blend an iPhone, or a ski…and definitely wouldn’t make a scene about being asked to blend a few measly almonds.  The kind that might last for more than a year.

Well, Santa must have read my letter this year, because there was a gorgeous BlendTec under the tree on Christmas morning.  I don’t think I’ve screamed about a Christmas present since the year my parents Santa brought my sister and I five pet turtles.  The turtles turned out to be NOT the best idea ever once we realized just how much…um…”waste” five turtles can produce on a daily basis, but they made for an exciting Christmas morning, anyways.

Anyways, back to the BlendTec.  It was love at first sight.  No one has been quite as excited about a blender as I was.  My Swedish brother-in-law just sat there staring at me, looking confused, clearly wondering what he had lost in translation.  Because who cares that much about a kitchen appliance?  Me.  That’s who.  And then I got to live through my excitement all over again when I phoned Carlos and told him what I would be bringing home with me.  I’m not sure that the prospect of freshly blended kale smoothies really bowled him over with excitement, but he put on an OK show.  It was Christmas, after all.

Travelling with a blender isn’t ideal.  I don’t want to brag, but I’m a true packing genius.  This is what happens when you are ‘with suitcase’ numerous times each year.  You have to think it through.  Thanks to my clever usage of warm, Canadian-weather-appropriate outerwear, my blender returned to the Rock in prime condition and was set up on our counter not 5 minutes after I walked in the door.  The very next morning, I fired it up for the very first time.

Bliss.  Two buttons pressed and the perfect smoothie was blended.  Amazing.  And it has been used every morning since.

So, what do I put in the blender jar?  Usually a combination of some (or all) of the following:

  • banana, sometimes frozen to make it more frothy
  • frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
  • oranges
  • KALE (my favorite of the green leafies)
  • spinach (a close second)
  • ground flaxseed
  • virgin coconut oil
  • AmazingGrass SuperFood (chocolate, berry or natural flavors…they are all fantastic)
  • filtered water

I make enough for Carlos and I to each have a big glass for breakfast and then pour the leftovers into a steel water bottle to take to work for a snack later in the day.  Green smoothies fill me up nicely, have great staying power (I don’t get hungry again until lunch time), and give me great energy to get through the morning.  I love them!  I was skeptical about Carlos feeling the same way but every morning he’s standing there, holding out his glass for seconds, so I’m guessing he is on board.  That, or he’s out of cereal.

I’m looking forward to a long and satisfying relationship with my BlendTec.  I’m hoping to make some almond butter with it soon…I’ll definitely post about how that works out.

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