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Blending 101: Beginners Guide to Blending

Welcome to Blending 101 and Congratulations on your decision to pursue a healthier lifestyle. You are here because you know you want to eat more nutrient dense foods and want to start using a blender to help you do it. Awesome! You are in the right place because we’ve got that covered.

Ready to get on your blending knowledge? Great, let’s jump in!

What is Blending?

Blending is the action performed by a kitchen blender appliance, which serves to mix, purée, grind or emulsify food and other substances. A high-powered blender, such as a Blendtec or a Vitamix, can do all those functions and more! In fact, it is such an extremely versatile tool that it can help you create wonderful creations like soups, salad dressings, sauces for your meats and veggies, batters for baked goods, frozen desserts like sorbets and ice creams and yes, a gazillion types of smoothie recipes and so much more. We cannot stress enough; a blender is so much more than just smoothies!

Why not just consume fruits and vegetables whole instead?

Yes, that is great idea! Now to get on that. However most of the population in Canada and USA are not consuming the recommended amount fruit and vegetables as specified by Health Canada and the USA CDC. The benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables are well researched, yet our population struggle to include enough of them in their daily diet.

For most people it seems we are too busy to prepare whole food meals and with enough variety of produce to consume the minimum recommended amounts. Leveraging a blender makes it easy and fast to consume more produce and variety of them. So consuming fruits and vegetables are just made easier with a blender. Consider a morning smoothie recipe alone could have more than half of your daily requirements.

There are many additional benefits with blending food, check out “The Benefits of Blending Food” article to learn more. That article really makes it clear how helpful blending is to get our recommended amount of produce. And, if you happen to be one of the many looking for ways to consume more healthy fibre, check out the article to see how to get all your recommended dietary fibre in just one blend!

What is the difference between blending vs juicing?

It pretty much boils down to blending keeps the fiber and juicing extracts the fiber. There are reasons and health benefits for both, however blending is broader in its purpose and juicing more specialized.

Are smoothies healthier than juices?

They are both healthy. It just depends on your health goals, what you want to achieve and what specific protocol you are following to achieve them. You can do both and may choose to have them at different times in a day. You may do one daily and the other for cleanses, detoxing, or just to enjoy whenever inclined. They are not mutually exclusive.

The main difference is that smoothies has pulp of the whole produce and contains both soluble and insoluble fibres while juices has most of the pulp with insoluble fibre removed. Without fibre to slow glucose uptake and absorption, sweet produce such as fruits will spike insulin response quickly. Yet there is also faster uptake of extracted nutrients as well.  

With blending you get all the nutrients and with the complete fibre, glucose absorption is slowed down and a broader array of nutrients are available that come with the fibre. So really one is not healthier than the other as it depends on what your health goals are and any challenges that are unique to you.

What you need to start blending

Before you start blending, you will need the following.

  1. A quality blender - To get started with your blending lifestyle, you’ll need a quality blender. This blender will be required to perform challenging blending tasks well, such as frozen produce, ice, hard raw vegetables and even leafy greens. Under powered blenders are likely to experience results like: lumpy smoothies, soups and sauces or even worse beaten looking salads. If you need help on choosing the best blender for your needs, then consult our Blender Buying Guide as a helpful resource.
  2. Blending recipes - When getting started, throwing a bunch of stuff together and expecting it to taste delicious is a gamble. Instead, you will want to set the stage for your success with guidance. That’s where recipes come into play. The best recipes are tasty while at the same time meeting your nutritional heath benefits goals. The manufacturers offer recipes on their websites along with a sample that usually come with most of their models. For Blendtec recipes to make smoothies, soups, sauces, ice cream, juice, and meal ideas, visit the manufacturer's website here for ideas and inspirations.
  3. Helpful additional tools you might find useful:
    • Multiple blending jars
    • Good quality knives
    • Knife friendly cutting board/s
    • Weighing scale
    • Nut milk bag – if you want to make nut milks or to remove pulp from whole juice.
    • Measuring cups and spoons
    • Storage containers

For more on what you need when you start blending, check out article: “The Blender Lifestyle: Beginners Guide

How to Blend

How to prep your jar - Each time before you use your jar, it is recommended that you spin the shaft on the bottom of the blender jar for a few seconds until it spins with ease. This helps keep your seal in good shape and supports your jars longevity. If you notice some resistance in the spin, it is recommended that you add some hot water.

How to load your jar -We are talking about organizing ingredients and how you do it matters. To help you get the best blending performance it is important to layer ingredients in a specific order.
How to Load a Blendtec Blending Jar

The order is first liquids, then next softest ingredient like fresh fruits, veggies and greens, and lastly your hard ingredients like ice and frozen produce.

How to load cold blends - When a blend has too much cold ingredients, cavitation can happen. This refers to an air pocket where the ingredients hover above, like a bubble which makes it out of reach of the blade. To avoid this, keep a balance between liquid and frozen ingredients.

How to prep bulky ingredients – For large, bulky and round ingredients like whole apples and pears, cut in half or quarter. For long ingredients, cut so that they fit at least in half height of the jar

Choice of jar for quantity and task - When looking for the right jar for a recipe, your recipe blend quantity can determine which jar is the right one, as well as the task. With Blendtec Jars, they each have visible measurement readings as well as state what their capacity is. The manufacturer recommends that your finished blend not exceed the measurement line.

In respect to volume, it is possible to have a jar that is too large for your recipe. Such as making a small batch salad dressing that may sit below your large all-purpose jar blades. In this case you may wish to increase your recipe volume size or choose a smaller volume purposed jar.

The standard jar that comes with your blender is the all-purpose jar which is designed to do all tasks.  However, if you want to frequently do small blend recipes or extra thick blends or grinding, then you may get great value and satisfaction by getting one or more additional jars to do those types of blends.

Want to get more blending knowledge? Great! Then hop over and jump in to these other articles for a deeper dive into high-powered blending.

REFERENCES

  1. Statistics Canada. “Fruit and Vegetable Consumption”. URL: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-229-x/2009001/deter/fvc-eng.htm. [Accessed on August 22, 2018]
  2. CDC.  “Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables”. URL: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1116-fruit-vegetable-consumption.html.  [Accessed on August 22, 2018]
  3. Canadian Public Health Association. “The economic benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption in Canada”. URL: http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/view/5721. [Accessed on August 22, 2018]
  4.  Health Canada. “Summary of Health Canada’s Assessment of a Health Claim about Vegetables and Fruit and Heart Disease”. URL: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/food-nutrition/summary-health-canada-assessment-health-claim-about-vegetables-fruit-heart-disease.html. [Accessed on August 22, 2018]
  5. World Health Organization. “Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases”. URL: http://www.who.int/elena/titles/fruit_vegetables_ncds/en/ . [Accessed on August 22, 2018]