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- The Blender Lifestyle: Beginners Guide
The Blender Lifestyle: Beginners Guide
Organization, planning for using your blender
To learn more about blending benefits, check out this article: "The Benefits of Blending".
Want to make meals that are nutritious and delicious while being reasonably quick and easy to prepare? This is the conundrum of the time starved north American lifestyle. Many are finding their solution to this challenge with a new and easier way of doing things called the blender lifestyle. What do we mean by “Blender Lifestyle”? It’s about leveraging the benefits of a high-powered blender as part of your everyday meal preparations in a variety of delicious and nutritious ways.
How is this achieved? The answer can be summed up in 3 steps.
- Organize Your Kitchen
- Plan for Success
- Use Your Blender
Ready to get started? Read on!
Organize your kitchen
Organize your workspace – A tidy well laid out workspace is a very important element to a successful blending lifestyle. Having all the tools you will need readily available will set the stage for your success. Please keep your blender on the counter. Out of site is out of mind.
Additional Tools you will need
Purchase the best equipment you can afford. You will likely be preparing several meals a day, and whatever you buy needs to work well, be up for the task or challenge, and be long lasting.
- Multiple Blending Jars - We recommend multiple blending jars as this allows you to blend different recipes in short succession. Highly useful during full meal preparations and entertaining.
- Two large capacity jars, such as a WildSide+, for all your large batch blends like soups, smoothies, doughs and batters.
- A smaller sized jar such as the Mini WildSide, which is great for sauces, marinades, or dressings.
- And if you intend to make a lot of nut butters or other extra thick blends often, then a specialty Twister Jar will be a great value addition as it makes these extra-thickies even faster and easier.
- Knife - No bones about it, you will want decent knives in your kitchen. A good quality sharp knife makes cutting tasks quicker, more efficient, requires less effort to use and gives you more control. Dull knives can really slow down food prep and make cutting tasks a laborious and tiresome chore. We particularly like ceramic knives for cutting produce. Stainless steel knives are our preferred blade when cutting very hard objects such as meats with bones.
- Cutting Board - We recommend you have at least 2 cutting boards to avoid cross contamination. Use one for produce and one for meat. Research indicates that scared plastic boards are less hygienic than traditional wood or bamboo boards. Wood cutting boards typically require oiling to keep the wood in good condition. They are the most knife friendly and will dull blades less than plastic or glass boards. Even with the extra care and upkeep, wood cutting boards can require they are worth it. A well-cared-for wood board will last you for years.
- Weighing scale – Depending on ingredients and a recipe author’s choice of measurement, you will have recipes that require a weighing scale. There are work arounds to convert some measurements so that you can use other measuring tools such as converting pounds or grams to cups, but values from wet to dry can vary wildly thus changing end results. Whether you are a novice at food making or a pro, having a weighing scale is highly recommended if you want consistent reliable recipe results. Just saying!
- Mixing bowls – Multiple bowls are super handy for loading up your produce ingredients to wash, and others to contain the prepared diced and sliced just rights and another for holding waste trims and skins. Glass and stainless steel are our personal favs.
- Spatula – This is super handy and comes in different sizes! Use to make swiping out every bit of delicious and precious blend contents easy and fast. Plus, once you have one, you’ll want to retire your spoon from the task of wiping out contents of every other bowl and container in your kitchen.
- Peeler – A good to have tool in every kitchen. Sometimes you want the skin and sometimes you don’t. A good one makes peeling thinner (for less waste) or thicker, easier and faster. A lesser one can make the task take longer, with more effort and less than satisfactory results.
- Scrub brush – sometimes your produce just needs a good but delicate brushing to get clean (think mushrooms). So, yes, a good produce scrub brush is helpful, handy and can do a better job than just soaking, rinsing or rubbing under water alone.
- Nut milk bag – A staple to every vegan and dairy free kitchen, but now nut milks have gone mainstream. So common to see shopping carts carry cows milk and a prepared nut milk too. But why buy prepared store bought when you can easily make it at home without all the filler ingredients and instead enjoy more taste, more nutrition and less cost! Yes, count me in that too!
- Funnel – If you want to transfer wet, dry or buy bulk ingredients to another container, this is particularly useful. Having the funnel makes pouring and transferring into other containers easier and helps avoid spill losses.
- Measuring cups and spoons – These are must have tools for following recipes as well as recording your own. Look for easy to read measurement marks on cups and spoons. Nice to have measurements in both imperial and metric. If just the one is given, you can look up imperial to metric conversion values with Google.
- Storage Containers - For smoothies, soups, gravies, dressings, etc. Some qualities to look for: travel friendly (think school/work lunches and picnics), sized right (to be space efficient in your fridge, freezer or table), and BPA free. Other good to have features are air tight, leak proof and or vacuum sealed to keep blends contained well and fresher longer by minimizing oxidation.
- Freezer storage – Whether for storing frozen meals or ingredients to make meals, freezer storage supplies are a must. The best freezer storage container will vary depending on quantity, intended duration of storage and purpose. For frozen meals intended to be handy heat ups, consider glass, corning ware or stainless-steel containers that are approved for freezer to oven use. For ingredients to be used in future blending recipes, consider zip lock bags, eco friendly reusable bags, and BPA free containers. Its also a good practice to label containers with date and meal items or ingredient.
Organize your fridge and pantry - By keeping your fridge and pantry tidy and organized, you can easily see what you have without digging for it. So, you will find your ingredients more quickly, save money by not buying food you already have and will help get your shopping list together more quickly.
With the goal of healthier eating, take this opportunity to remove processed foods and poor-quality ingredients from your kitchen and replace them with more healthful higher quality ones. Catalogue common staples that you will want to keep always on hand.
For your newly organized fridge and pantry, here are some common ingredients to upgrade your recipes with and boost your health.
- Table Salt – Standard table salt is highly processed and void of trace minerals. Also, some have added ingredients that are not healthy. Consider replacing standard salt with non-processed varieties. We like Real Salt, Himalayan Salt and (real) Sea Salt.
- Herbs - Stock your pantry with good quality dried herbs, use before their best before dates and store in a cool, dry, and dark place in air tight containers to best preserve taste and nutrition values. Avoid those that use chemical preservatives and consider getting organic when budget allows.
- Spices – Dried spices (and herbs) typically have a shelf life of 1 – 5 years although many chefs will advise to use within 6 months for best taste. So, record bottling dates or purchase dates, look at labels and don’t use expired or past best before date spices. After a best before date they lose taste and nutrition values decline. As with most things, consider getting organic.
- Vinegar – Recommended upgrade is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) which has probiotics and trace nutrients. It also tastes great. Another option that has probiotics, trace nutrients and is Gluten Free (GF) safe, is Coconut Vinegar (CV). This is the new and hip vinegar catching on in popularity with ACV. Either are a great choice.
- Super Foods and Nutrient tops ups – such as chlorella, spirulina, raw cacao, flaxseeds etc. to add to your blends and boost nutrient values.
- Oils – quality oils are your good fats such as coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil. Look for unprocessed, reputable brand names. Just note that olive oil has been reported to be 60 to 70 percent fake or diluted with cheap oils, so you will need to do some research to help you identify which is real pure olive oil. Also keep in mind that a healthy balance of Omega 3, 6 and 9 fats is important and that consuming too much of any is not health promoting (see article The Benefits of Blending in the section about healthy fats for more info)
- Sweeteners & Flavor Enhancers – natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup as well as natural low glycemic sugar alternatives like stevia extract (Sweetleaf Liquid plain and English Toffee flavour – are two personal fav’s) can make all the difference in making your blends taste great while complying to you to various diet protocols such as paleo, wholefood 30, keto, low carb, and or low glycemic.
A final note. Keep bulk things fresh and easy to identify by storing them in clear labelled airtight containers. It makes seeing what you have so simple and quick! Mason jars of various sizes are a good option.
Plan for success
This is about planning and time management. Make a meal plan for a week, then prep as much of the ingredients that will assist with fast, easy making of meals during the week.
Ready? Lets’ dig in!
Make a meal plan
Making a meal plan will be your first step in the planning phase. It’s an essential step for an effective blending lifestyle. It keeps things simple, organized and efficient for your busy weeks. Having a plan provides a roadmap to follow that will keep you on track. When healthy foods are ready and available we are much more likely to eat those foods instead of ordering out or stopping at the store for a quick snack.
A side benefit of a meal plan is because you now know what you will be eating for the week running your meal plan through a nutrition analyzer is a great way to see if your diet has any nutritional deficiencies.
When you have a meal plan in place and you know your kitchen is stocked, you will have a faster, easier, nutrition packed delicious week – or as we like to call it – A Blender Lifestyle week.
Make a weekly shopping list
Consider making your meal plan after your local grocer’s release their flyers to help plan your menu. This way you can take advantage of upcoming sales. Next, make your meal plan sometime before you go shopping. If possible buy organic. But if you are on a budget, then prioritize by only buying The Environmental Working Groups (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” organic and buy the “Clean Fifteen” non-organic. See food lists and source link below.
Prepare your Ingredients ahead of time
Prepping your food ahead of time is an important step in maintaining a healthy diet throughout the week. It is much easier to eat nutritious foods when you take the time to plan your meals and prepare your ingredients in advance. This is especially true for weekday morning breakfasts or lunch’s when you are rushing to get the kids off to school and still make it to work on time. Obviously, this is not the most opportune time to be prepping your meals. We recommend, to take one afternoon on the weekend, and find Sunday works well, to prepare meals and snacks for the week, but see what works for you. The goal is to make sure most meals and snacks for the week are planned, have ingredients on hand, and prepped where possible to be blended.
Food prep can be the most time-consuming part of meal preparation. Simply thoroughly washing certain types of produce, such as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, can take a significant amount of time as does removing produce skins and chopping. Even organic produce should be washed thoroughly. While organic veggies are not grown with pesticides, they can still become contaminated, which is why it's important to wash them first before eating.
With a powerful blender such as a Blendtec or Vitamix you don’t have to spend a lot of time cutting your ingredients, saving on prep time. Mostly you are only required to measure, drop in whole or halving and then some minor chopping of large bulky items so the blender blades can draw them in easier & faster.
The reason fast food restaurants are fast, is they have all their ingredients washed, cut and ready for quick reach. Similar efficiency can be experienced at home by having more ingredients washed, cut and ready for quick use. Check out some examples of food prepping for the week.
- Freeze Prep - Wash and cut produce (herbs, veggies, fruit and leafy greens) package into recipe portions than date, label and freeze. For smoothies, you may thaw out night before, so less liquid is needed for the AM blend, or else just add more liquid and flavorings. Note when opting to use frozen ingredients in place of fresh ones, you typically will add more liquid to help ingredients get pulled into the blade and to adjust smoothie thickness.
- Fridge Prep – Wash your leafy green such as lettuce, kale, or swiss chard, or other produce and herbs. Precut those that you will use sooner since cutting shortens how long it will keep. Spin dry with a salad spinner. Prepare and pack to store in your refrigerator. How produce is prepped for storing impact how long it keeps fresh. Check out these storing method examples great for faster ready to assembly meals.
- Easy One Container Method - With this method you wash and store in the same container using just a “salad spinner” or “colander”. It is ideal for leafy green prepping but can be used with other produce as well. The advantage of this method is you do not need any new special containers to get fresh produce washed/dried and sitting ready for later use. A salad spinner or colander are common to most kitchens, so with this, you don’t need to buy something new to get started. This method is handy for precuts that is for meals within the next day or two and requires the least steps and clean up. Simply wash and spin dry in your salad spinner or shake and pat dry if using your colander. Lastly place in the fridge to store as follows.
- If using a closed bottom salad spinner, after washing and spinning dry, pour out any remaining liquid, put a sheet of paper towel on top of leafy greens (optional), put lid back on and place the whole container on fridge shelf
- If using an open bottom salad spinner that lets you wash and spin under the kitchen faucet, do a final spin to dry, place a sheet of paper towel on the leafy greens (optional), rest the salad spinner onto a plate or close-fitting size bowl, and place on fridge shelf.
- If using a colander, after washing, shake dry and possibly pat dry with towel, place a sheet of paper towel over top (optional), rest the colander into a close-fitting size bowl, cover the bowl with a lid (not air tight) and place on fridge shelf.
- Organized Multiple Container Method –The advantage of having more containers ready prepped, means greater ease and speed with weekly food making. With this method, you transfer washed and dried produce into containers. To ensure produce is adequately dry, lay out produce on a towel in a single layer to air dry or else pat dry. Next store in one of the following:
- Line a food storage container with paper towels and light seal (80-90%) with a lid. We prefer to use containers that are wide rather than deep so that there is more room around produce. If your produce is very dry you can fully close seal your container or Ziploc bag.
- Get specialty food storage containers designed to slow keep produce fresh longer. There are a variety of products claiming to do this, although most seem focused on putting your whole unwashed produce in their bags or container to help them stay fresh longer. However this does not directly help food prep. There is one brand that looks like it may support storing washed cut produce by OXO brand. They have a product line called “OXO Good Grips Greens Saver”. Most helpful features are: an inner basket that doubles as a rinse strainer and a humidity control vent to customize for different produce. The products that look most interesting and promising is the: Oxo Good Grips GreenSaver Produce Keeper and OXO Good Grips GreenSaver Crisper.
- Best practice with freezing meals or prepping ingredients is to label what it is and date. That way you can choose to use older prepped food ingredients and meals first, so you don’t end up with anything getting old.
- Amount of advance prep work can depend on type of produce and how well it keeps in the fridge after washing and cutting. For example, cut romaine lettuce will keep well cut up to 2 days and whole leaves keep up to 4 days.
- If you eat certain leafy greens often during the week, prepping some in bulk every 2 to 3 days, helps get those meals with crispy greens to table faster.
Use your blender
According to the Canada Food Guide, "a diet rich in fruit and vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer”. Regrettably, the standard American diet consisting of high amounts of processed foods does not meet these goals.
Wonder how you can you easily achieve the rich amount of fruits and vegetables recommend by the Canada Food Guide? This is where a high-powered blender comes into the equation offering: nutrition boosting, menu diversity and convenience. Here are the details.
Nutrition boost: It enables you to substitute highly processed foods bought from stores or restaurants with delicious and nutritious meals prepared at home. Say yes to whole foods in your meals and goodbye to fillers, preservatives and unknown mystery ingredients with names that only a chemist can pronounce.
Menu Diversity: It’s common knowledge that high-powered blenders are terrific at whipping up tasty and nutritious smoothies quickly. But, if you really want to use your blender to it’s fullest, by maximizing your nutrition intake, use it to prepare most of your meals, from breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
It cannot be stressed enough how versatile a blender can be! Check out just some of the delicious blends you can whip up easily at home to experience your “Blender Lifestyle”.
- Breads and batters
- Whole Juices
- Baby food
- Even cocktails and mocktails
- And yes Smoothies
Convenience: To meet the demands of our busy lifestyles, it’s important that food be quick and easy to prepare. With some planning not only does the blender speed up your meal preparation, it even speeds up the clean up process. Say hello to produce rich meal making and clean up in mere minutes and goodbye to the old unhealthy standard American Diet conundrum.
With proper organization, planning and using your blender, a blender offers you a way to enjoy nutritious tasty blends at any time of day and in many ways, so you see it is so much more than just smoothies!!!
Blenders can really make your life better, by improving your nutrition while enjoying a tremendous variety of tasty foods all with time saving convenience.
What are you waiting for? Get a high-powered blender now, follow the steps here to organize, plan, then take action and use your blender, and start enjoying “The Blender Lifestyle” today!