I reviewed the Vitamix, Blendtec, and the Healthmaster in a previous blog post here, however that was over a year ago and needs to be updated! My experiences with each machine have evolved and I've used a new appliance, the Ninja, which I need to add to the mix!
This is the cream of the crop - the ultimate blender that everyone should own. My use of my Vitamix (I've had both the 5000 and the 5200) over the past four years has cemented my unwavering loyalty to this brilliant machine. I bought my high powered blender the instant I decided the raw lifestyle was worth investing into. I've taken it on trips, on airplanes (checked & carry-on!), even on my honeymoon! Not only does it help me create all my raw vegan dishes, but it saves me tons of time. It grinds nuts and seeds, completely bursts the cell walls of plants to release that incredible chlorophyll, breaks down frozen fruit to make ice cream, in fact I haven’t found anything my Vitamix cannot do. When people ask if I miss hot foods (as I don't cook anything), I demonstrated how my Vitamix warms up my food. There is no heating element, but it runs at 240 mph and the friction heats up my soups, sauces, dips, etc.
The only problem with the Vitamix? It’s expensive!!!!! If you buy a new Deluxe Vitamix 5200, with all the bells and whistles, it comes out to $650. HOWEVER! You can also buy a Vitamix that has been “factory reconditioned” for $329.00! I always recommend buying Factory Reconditioned! If you put in this code when you check out, you get free shipping ($25 savings!): 06-005351.
People are always asking if there are other blenders out there that are cheaper, yet have the same performance. I have personally used three others that come close, but I will stress that NO BLENDER have the same performance as the Vitamix, in my experiences. Now mind you, I use my Vitamix 3-8 times a day, and have used each of the following blenders at least a half dozen times each while teaching classes.
The first is a Blendtec, the rival to the Vitamix. It’s slightly more affordable, coming in at $454 for the “Wild Side” (deluxe version), $434 for the Basic Version, and $384 for the Factory Reconditioned Basic. It’s slightly more powerful than the Vitamix, coming in at 1560 Watts vs. the Vitamix’s 1380 Watts. The Basic comes with a 32 oz. pitcher, the Wild Side has a 44 oz. pitcher, and the Vitamix has a 64 oz. pitcher. The Blendtec has a broader based pitcher – easier to get your food out and nothing gets trapped under the blades. Lastly, the Blendtec is programmable and you can set it and walk away and it will shut itself off The Blendtec can also warm up your liquids and dips, which is awesome for a raw foodist. All in all, the Blendtec is a GREAT BUY. If you can find one, go for it.
BUT…there are some major drawbacks. First, it does not come with a tamper – an instrument to push food into the blades. Therefore, you need to cut and dice your food smaller so it will move AND you CANNOT make Raw Vegan Banana Ice Cream in this blender. :/ That’s a big part of my diet, so I cannot imagine having the Blendtec permanently. Second, even though the base of the pitcher is larger (my Vitamix pitcher is tapered), it has problems with small amounts of food. The blades will spin if there isn't enough food to move around - and while it's difficult to do small amounts in the Vitamix, the tamper makes it possible. Also you cannot fill it to the top with food and expect it to blend. I can make a full 64 ounces of Green Smoothie in my Vitamix, but you can only fill the 44 oz container half way! Third, the larger motor doesn’t do any more than I need, but it is a LOT louder – which is not so good when you have kids with sensitive hearing, babies, or need to do any food prep when people are sleeping. And fourth, with all its settings (ice cream, dips, smoothies, etc.), it's much harder to work manually. When trying to make a dip out of cashews, for example, you need to run the dip setting two to four times to get the same consistency with the Vitamix.
It's a good machine, but you can get a Vitamix for roughly the same price. I'd spend the money on the Vitamix.
I have had the opportunity to try out Montel William’s HealthMaster. At 4 easy payments of $49.99 (plus S&H), it’s by far the cheapest at $200. It comes in at 1100 watts of power, which isn’t much less than Vitamix’s 1380 watts. It has a monster 70 oz. pitcher that has a nice broad base where no food gets stuck. It comes with a tamper! Yaaay! Raw Vegan Ice cream, here we come! AND…the base is programmable just like the Blendtec.
Here come the con’s. First, like the Blendtec, even though the base of the pitcher is larger (my Vitamix pitcher is tapered), I have problems doing small amounts of food. One cup of dip in the HealthMaster just spins…doesn’t mix, even with the tamper. Second, the lower wattage means that it just isn’t as powerful and doesn’t blend as smooth or creamy as the Vitamix or the Blendtec. I tried to make a pie crust (crushed nuts and fruit) in the HealthMaster and it got stuck in the pitcher, and I had to take it all out and use another appliance. The pitcher has pockets where food gets caught and I can’t just spatula it down to the bottom…I’m not sure if you can see from the picture. The motor is ridiculously loud and slightly smelly (which the manufacturer says will wear off within six months). Lastly, it has two locking mechanisms that sound like a wonderful safeguard but are actually quite annoying. The thing won’t run unless the pitcher is locked to the base and the lid is locked to the pitcher. Both locks are quite difficult to engage and after working with it for a half an hour, my fingers were starting to blister. I got used to it quickly, but my friend said she was less likely to work with it because of this feature. It also doesn't run at the speeds of the previous two machines, which means it won't warm up your food. It's a great machine for the price, at nearly half the price of the other two machines, so the frugal girl in me gives it one thumb up!
Lastly, I've had more experience with the Ninja than with the previous two machines because it's far more affordable, available, and everyone seems to be getting one! This machine is wonderfully unique in that it has multiple blades. Because of this, a tamper is less necessary to push food into the blades - there are blades in the middle and on top! It has a programmable base with 1000 watts of power (only 100 less than the HealthMaster!), has a wonderfully easy to use 72 ounce container. All in all, they have taken a little bit of everything and made a great machine. AND - it's only $100!!!! That's crazy!
I've also gotten to play with the Ninja Prep - which is even cheaper at $50-75, depending on where it's sold. However, it has more than HALF the wattage of the blender (400 watts!), and in turn cannot do many things (like make dips & sauces out of nuts) well. It does make small batches of things rather well and I was able to make a few dishes with ease (my Orange UnChicken, Green Smoothies!, and Pinky Pudding)
However, you get what you pay for. With the Ninja, you pay a fraction of the price for a fraction of the ability. I cannot make the same quality of dips, sauces, desserts, smoothies, and ice cream is out of the picture. It does many amazing things and is far better for making Green Smoothies than a traditional blender (Oster or Hamilton Beach).
Each of the machines listed come with recipe books that are definitely a part of the price - wonderful recipes that get you to use the machine and eat healthier. Sure, they aren't raw vegan, but they are homemade from scratch and encourage you to move away from processed foods. That's the first step - less processed, more whole foods!
So there we are. Four different high speed blenders. Each of the blenders tackled Green Smoothies with ease and are amazing blenders. I still recommend the Vitamix. It is worth the investment and even if you aren’t raw in any capacity it is wonderful for your kitchen. Not to mention, the Vitamix has been around since 1937 and is made in the US. If a machine has a warranty, I would trust a company that has been around more then ten years and has perfected the craft that they are in. Just my two cents...
If I have moved you toward the Vitamix and are interested in purchasing one, use this code for free shipping (06-005351) and go here! I hope this helped!!!!
I LOVE getting email regarding this website/blog. I have a few faithful followers who are full of questions, which is so much fun. I have had a few questions that I want to share with you.
Q: Is the peach/apple sauce recipe you posted possible to make in a normal "cheap blender" vs one of the $300 blenders that you have?
A: While I love my Vitamix and can't imagine life without it...it was expensive. I know several raw foodies that use regular blenders. One of my good friends has a pretty cheap Walmart blender that she uses hardcore and does the job. There are only two differences when making smoothies and sauces/dips: it won't get quite as smooth as mine (which is okay...applesauces are nice a little chunky), and you won't break down the chlorophyll in the greens as well (they have very strong cell walls), but ANY raw food is better than none. Do NOT allow appliances to hold you back from health!
Most raw recipes require one of three appliances: blender, food processor, dehydrator. Now I own the top notch stuff because those are the ONLY appliances I will use. I don't have to buy an expensive stove, coffee maker, toaster oven, pots/pans, microwave, roaster, etc. AND, I use these daily. My blender also grinds nuts, seeds, and grains to make flour/meal, as well as blending so fast it warms up my soup (I actually have to be careful not to cook with it!). But if you aren't using your blender for these types of things, you can buy your flour or meal already prepared and stick with your current blender. As for a food processor, I found a wonderfully expensive Cuisinart on craigslist...unopened in box for half the selling price in the department stores. Notice a trend? Craigslist for my processor and my blender is the refurbished, two year old style. :) When you get to fun recipes that require a dehydrator, there are several other ways to dehydrate without breaking the bank. First, if you live in Arizona..the weather is completely suitable. I have been softening/dehydrating my squash lately by putting it into a casserole dish covered with foil and leaving it in the sun for a few hours. Voila! OR...depending on your make of oven/stove...some have a "warm" setting. You might want to check just how warm it gets (meat thermometer works fine), and try to keep it under 115 degrees to retain as much nutrition as possible (I WILL finish the page explaining this).
So do you need to go out and buy fancy equipment to make the recipes I enjoy? NO! There are always ways to make your current appliances work. Nuts and dried fruit not getting processed like you were hoping? Soak them first! Food getting stuck? Add a liquid! I'll go into those in another post, but feel free to ask more questions regarding this!
Q: I don't think I can go completely raw like you, I don't think I can give up meat completely, and definitely not bread. How can I go partially raw to receive the most benefits, without going all the way?
A: There are THREE easy ways to begin to add more raw foods into your diet. You don't have to do all three, but feel free to do so! The first one is my favorite and I totally use it with my family.
1. Eat ONE piece (or more, if you choose) of fruit before every meal. This way you add more and more to your diet, while still eating whatever you like. However, it will help to fill you up, so you eat less and less of the non-raw foods. Not to mention, this will not hurt your wallet...especially if you check to see what fruit is on sale in your area, or price match...
2. Replace one of your meals (the smallest one of your day: breakfast, lunch, etc.) with a green smoothie. Smoothie, not juice, because it contains the fiber and will fill you up as you drink it. You take a few leaves of greens, a few pieces of fruit, blend them all together and sip it slowly over an hour or so. THIS will provide the most benefits and changes...greens are powerful healers. They contain TONS of wonderful minerals and vitamins: iron, calcium, proteins, vitamins A, C, Bs, and all the other ones. Check out my Green Smoothies page and click on each green to find out what the benefits of each are. Not only will this fortify your body with whatever nutrition you are lacking, but it will improve your digestive health, your skin, and will help rehydrate you as well. Most of us don't drink enough water...well, not only is there lots of water/ice in your smoothie, but the fruit content is mostly water as well.
3. Try to eat one meal raw, or two meals. Hallelujah Acres is a raw food program that does two raw meals, one cooked meal. Albeit their cooked meal is restrictive, yours need not be. Feel free to eat whatever you like for that one or two cooked meals. Keeping one meal raw doesn't mean you ONLY drink smoothies...or eat salads. I will continue to post lots of fun raw dishes that are simple to make yet delicious. Raw desserts are lots of fun in this area: I have raw ice cream for breakfast every morning. It is GOOD for me, it is delicious, and my daughter begs me for it every morning. So, have that ice cream for breakfast, smoothie for lunch, and that steak dinner. Enjoy your food, don't restrict your diet.
Also, the technical (if you want to split hairs) "qualifications" for being raw is 80% - 100% of your diet is raw foods. I'm not sure how you figure out what percentage you are raw. I suppose when MOST of your diet is raw, you can consider yourself a raw foodist. Labels can be very limiting, but I have found the most benefits when I'm 100%. Out of the 100-200 raw foodists that I have met in Phoenix, at the various potlucks (which I'll blog about later), I've met only a few who claim 100%. Most simply like the way they feel eating mostly raw. Some say they are "High Raw," "Partially Raw," "experimenting with raw," etc.
The more raw food you incorporate into your diet, the more drastic the benefits will be. There are COUNTLESS (and my next post will be about this) testimonies of DRASTIC healing of chronic conditions, life threatening diseases, morbid obesity, and much more by going raw...and the more raw you go, the more complete the healing. I, myself, no longer have debilitating asthma. Allergies. Eczema. PMS. And so much more. My digestive health is wonderful, my skin is clear, I've lost those stubborn last ten pounds after having a child, my eyesight has improved, I have WAY more energy, and I need less sleep. That's just the tip of the iceberg. I went raw for my health. This is what I want to share with you. God is so good. :)
About the Blogger
Haley is passionate about Raw Food and how God has used it to heal her. She loves to share what she knows with anyone who is curious, and finds herself talking to everyone around her about her lifestyle.