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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ninja Professional Blender and Raspberry Coconut Smoothie

I had to admit that when I started my fitness journey over a year ago that I really had little appreciation for smoothies.  Sure, I had made them before but not very often.  It is possible to pack a lot of calories into a smoothie and if the focus is on fruit, a lot of carbohydrates as well.  As I worked my way up to a daily high calorie burn routine, smoothies became an appealing way to incorporate a high protein recovery meal.  They are an economical, easy to prepare post-exercise meal that can be tailored to individual needs.  I tend to boost the protein on the days I have a high exercise calorie burn but on the weekends when I take a break from the higher burns, I don't worry about boosting the protein.  I also pay attention to the carbohydrates content adjusting based on activity.

Ninja Professional Blender
A blender is necessary to make smoothies.  While a regular blender works fine for the occasional blender, a heavy duty blender performs better for regular use.  There are specialized smoothie blenders (eg. Magic Bullet) but I have not seen good reviews on them.  At the same time, I didn't want to pay $600 for a Vitamix, the king of the blenders.  I simply wanted a heavy duty blender that would stand up to fairly regular use making smoothies.

Canadian Tire had a good sale on small kitchen appliances.  The Ninja Professional was reduced to $79.99.  This is a no frills, heavy duty blender that had good reviews so I bought one.

Ninja blender compared to Osterizer blender
I've had the Osterizer blender for a number of years.  It is a 425 W, 8 speed blender with a glass pitcher.  The base fits a mason jar and a separate smaller blending jar that I use quite often for sauces and dressings.  This is not a feature available on most newer blenders so my Osterizer will not be going anywhere any time soon.

The Ninja is a 1,000 W blender with three settings - on, pulse and off.  It has a heavy 72 oz plastic blender.  The size is impressive, definitely larger and heavier than the Osterizer.  The lid has a locking feature that must be activated for the blender to work.  A mason jar cannot be used on the Ninja base.

comparing blender blades
The Osterizer blade sits in the black screw on base.  A rubber gasket sits on the blade then the assembled unit is screwed onto the pitcher.  The design of the Osterizer The Ninja blade has a completely different design than the Osterizer.  It is a one piece unit with three sets of curved blades that sits on a post in the pitcher.  A pin at the top centres the blade unit when the lid is locked on to the pitcher.  The design of the Ninja blade reduces the need to stop the blender to redistribute food for smooth blending.  It is designed to efficiently crush ice, The Ninja is reputed to blend ingredients smoother than any other blender.  I certain will be putting this blender through the paces!

raspberry coconut smoothie
Protein shakes made with water, milk or nut milk and protein powder are great by themselves.  They are the perfect base for smoothies.  My morning smoothies start with a base of protein powder and almond milk.  This gives a base calorie value of 165 to 195 depending on which protein powder I use.  I like to boost the protein content and nutritional value.  I made a tasty raspberry coconut smoothie inspired by a cookie recipe to test out the Ninja.  The carbs are a bit higher than I would like so will adjust to reduce that but overall I'm pleased with the taste.

The Ninja gives a thicker, frothier texture to the smoothie which is quite appealing.  It is nice and thick, similar to a milkshake without adding a thickener or crushed ice.  The volume was increased as well.  This is a definite improvement over the Osterizer.  The Osterizer makes a nice smoothie especially using unfrozen ingredients, ice or harder fruit but it is a thinner consistency than a smoothie made in the Ninja. 

Raspberry Coconut Smoothie
recipe by:  Garden Gnome

1 c Silk unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c (100 g) Greek yogurt, 0% MF, vanilla
1 scoop (33 g) Vega Sport Performance protein powder, vanilla
15 (50 g) raspberries

Measure ingredients into blender.  Blend until smooth.  Serve.

Yield: 500 ml (16 oz)

Nutritional value: 322 calories, 30 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 38 g protein, 452 mg sodium, 6 g fibre

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