I’ve had my eye on a Vitamix for a while, ever since I interviewed someone a few years ago who swore by theirs. For those of you not in the know, Vitamix make top-of-the-range, fearsomely powerful blenders. They are the Ferrari to the Nissan Micra of most blenders on the market. Until recently, the major obstacle between me and a Vitamix has been size and price. They carry a Ferrari-style price tag and take up a lot of space on the worktop. Now, though, they’ve brought out a smaller range – the S series – which is more compact (only 15 cm wide) and, most importantly, much more affordable than previous versions.
When Vitamix asked if I’d like to try out the Vitamix S30, I couldn’t wait, as I use this kind of gadget on a daily basis to fuel my rowing. Most mornings see me whizzing up a smoothie for breakfast . Lunch is, more often than not, home-made soup, wholemeal pasta with home-made pesto, or hummus (again, my own creation as I find the shop-bought ones too salty). In between meals my usual snack is an apple with a dollop of nut butter (I make my own almond butter as jars of the stuff are eye-wateringly expensive).
I can’t deny I was a little sceptical about whether the Vitamix would be able to replace the substantial collection of kitchen gadgets that enabled me to make all of these delights – my antique Magimix (something of a family heirloom) used for pesto, hummus and nut butter, a liquidiser with a broken lid that presented a genuine hazard every time I made soup, a Nutribullet for smoothies that had unaccountably taken to spewing bits of black plastic across the worktop and a Nespresso milk frother that I use to make lattes of various descriptions. The literature promised it could deliver on all fronts, but I was pretty dubious.
So anyway, for six weeks I’ve been using the Vitamix to make my usual staples. Here’s how I got on.
What struck me most as I assembled the Vitamix was its solidity. Chunky and reassuringly heavy, it felt immediately like a quality piece of equipment. For such a powerful bit of kit it proved surprisingly quiet – more so than the Nutribullet – and was easy to put together and take apart for washing (you can put it in the dishwasher, too, but I chose not to do this).
You make smoothies with the smaller of the two attachments, the 600ml cup, which converts into an excellently watertight portable cup with a sippy lid. My smoothies worked like a dream, creating a smooth, silky texture and handling ice cubes and hardened dates with no difficulty.
I’ve tweaked and re-tweaked this recipe many times to make it substantial enough to have on a rowing morning and I’m pretty pleased with the end result which is super-healthy (plenty of vitamins, minerals, omega 3 oils, protein and carbs) and is much more filling and sustaining than most green smoothies. Importantly it’s also, in my opinion, much more palatable.
Ingredients (serves 1):
- 1 tbsp porridge oats
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 large handful spinach
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 dates
- 1/4 tsp matcha powder
- 1/2 tsp wheatgrass powder or spirulina (responsible for the vivid green)
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup milk (whatever type you like)
I made various types of hummus over the last few weeks, all of them using the larger, 1200 ml jug, as recommended in the recipe book. My first attempt, admittedly, wasn’t a success as I put the ingredients in in the wrong order. You have to be careful to put all of the liquids and soft ingredients first otherwise the blade gets stuck, even using the tamper – a long, plastic prod that you insert to keep the ingredients moving around freely. Once I’d got my head around that, it went fine, though a later attempt with sundried tomatoes was less successful as they wrapped themselves tightly around the blade and I ended up having to remove the jug from the base to untangle them.
On the plus side, you can put garlic cloves in whole and the machine handles them without a moment’s hesitation and once again you get smooth, velvety result. If you prefer your hummus to have a bit more texture to it you might be disappointed, and be prepared for quite a loose consistency as you do have to put in quite a lot of liquid relative to the chickpeas.
Hummus is brilliant pre-training fodder – we refer to it as rocket fuel in my house. It has all the macros and is great combined with whole grain bread or brown rice and veg.
This is my version of Vitamix’s suggested recipe (I’ve reduced the amount of garlic, substituted tahini for sesame seeds and removed ground cumin which I find a little overpowering).
- 1 x 400g tin chickpeas (reserving 80ml liquid)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 garlic clove peeled
- Seasoning, to taste
I also made a fabulous, Barbie pink, beetroot version – the same recipe with the addition of a couple of roasted beetroots (which, as I posted recently, could help your rowing performance), a bit more oil and a couple of teaspoons of honey and white wine vinegar. Try it.
This took a while to get right, with a lot of fiddling around swirling the tamper and persuading the blades to keep turning, so it felt like quite a lot of effort. The end result was sensational, though I can’t deny I was keen for the jar to last a long time so I wouldn’t have to make it again too soon.
I use a huge amount of nut butter – especially almond butter, for which I’ve developed something of an addiction. Although I hate the word ‘superfood’, almonds would almost persuade me to use it as they’re incredibly nutritious, with lots of fibre, protein, vitamin E, magnesium and healthy fats. They also taste fantastic. I stir almond butter into natural yogurt, mix it with mashed banana, pair it with chopped apple and, as I’m a little bit slovenly, eat it straight from the jar.
- 2 cups roasted almonds (you can roast your own – 10 minutes at 180C – but Lidl do reasonably priced, roasted and salted almonds which you buy loose)
- Dash of ground nut (or other flavourless) oil, to taste, if mixture is too dry
I left this one to last as I’m quite nervous of making soup in liquidisers after a few traumatic, kitchen-ceiling-splatting incidents with my old liquidiser. I needn’t have worried. This was the least scary soup-making I’d ever done. The large Vitamix jug has steam holes in the lid which allow the steam to escape and there was no need to hold a teatowel over the whole lid and clench my teeth when I turned it on. As with everything else, it performed smoothly and efficiently. What a relief.
But wait, nettle soup? Hell, yeah. Nettles are brilliant for recovery as they have anti-inflammatory properties as well as being high in flavonoids, vitamin C and a load of other nutrients, and if you harvest the nettles in the next week or so before they go stringy (by this stage in the spring just use the heads) you’ll end up with a delicately-flavoured soup not unlike spinach. Pick them with gloves and blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes (then plunge them into cold water) before you add them to the mix and they won’t sting you.
- 1 large onion
- 4 potatoes, peeled
- 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
- Carrier bag full of nettles
- 1.5l stock (the best you have)
- Seasoning, to taste
I did successfully make pesto using the Vitamix but I was in a hurry so I didn’t get any pics. Sometimes hunger wins.
Overall, I’d give the Vitamix a big thumbs-up. There are some things I won’t always use it for. I may end up resorting to my magimix for nut butter and chunkier hummus, and I’ll still use my milk frother as it heats the milk as well as frothing it, but for most other things, I’m definitely a convert to the Vitamix. At £299.00 it’s not what you’d call cheap but given the quality and the seven year guarantee I think that’s pretty reasonable.
You can buy the Vitamix S30 from the Vitamix site directly for £299.00 or from £12.46 per month in instalments.
Note: I was given the Vitamix S30 by Vitamix for review purposes but received no payment for this review, which is independent and honest.