Making Healthy Smoothies With Nutri Ninja
While at FitBloggin 14 this summer, I chatted with some folks at the Ninja Kitchen booth. They were there to showcase the smoothie prows of their Nutri Ninja. After sampling their smoothie recipes and watching the product in action, the Ninja folks asked if I’d be interested in testing one at home and reviewing it.
Well the Nutri Ninja arrived a few weeks ago. However I wasn’t able to give it a test drive until this weekend. I was so focused on getting below 200 lbs. that creating low carb smoothies was not on my radar.
Now that I’ve reached Onederland, I have time to play with the Ninja. I still need to create low carb smoothie recipes, but that’s my science experiment for December. This weekend, I picked some of Ninja Kitchen’s own healthy smoothie recipes to put the Nutri Ninja through its paces.
So What’s In The Box?
The Ninja comes with:
- 900 Watt Motor
- Pro Extractor Blades
- 2 Containers – 18 and 24 ounces
- 2 Sip & Seal Lids
I must say I really enjoy the Ninja’s sleek design. It’s more compact than my heavy-duty blender and takes up less counter space than my juicer (a big bonus in my tiny kitchen).
It’s easy to use. I didn’t have to break out the instruction manual, but I thumbed through the enclosed recipe book. Just load your ingredients into one of the containers, seal it with the bladed lid, flip it over and put it on the base, turn to lock it in place, then push down the top of the container.
You’ll want to pulse (press up and down) as you go. I didn’t do that on one of my smoothies and I ended up liquefying that puppy. Pulsing allows you to control how thick you want your mixture.
When the smoothie is the consistency you want, just unlock the cup and lift it from the base, flip it over, and unscrew the blades. It’s that easy. To avoid drips on your counter, remove the blade lid over the sink.
If you’re in a rush, use one of the lids and transform the container into a to-go cup. The containers are narrow enough to fit most car cup holders. Now that’s awesome!
The individual size containers are great. But when testing some of the recipes, I really had to follow the directions closely. The narrow containers are easy to pack tight. The “max fill” line should be adhered to. I tried adding extra ice to a couple of recipes (because that’s the way I roll!) but I couldn’t get the blade lid to screw on properly.
Because everything was packed in, I placed my largest (and hardest) foods on the bottom when blending to make sure proper chopping. With my blender, it’s the only way to make sure everything gets chopped up the way I like it. So my Pavlovian response is to pack the Ninja the same way. However, there is a twist (literally and figuratively): the largest foods had to go in the cup last since you flip the container to fit it on the base.
I have yet to test the Ninja using oils or anything sticky like honey. The potential problem I see is that these items could end up sticking to the top of the container and not get blended with the rest of the ingredients. With my blender and food processor, I can scrape down the sides of the container. It’s possible I can just remove the container from the base and give it a good shake. For the Ninja I’ll probably need to remove the blade lid to scrape down the sides.
Aside from that, the Nutri Ninja is fast. I could make a smoothie with fresh ingredients in just a few minutes. Pretty awesome if you’re in a pinch for time.
Cleaning the Ninja is a snap. Just add a few drops of dish soap and some water to the container, screw on the blade lid, attach it to the base, and give it 10-15 pulses. Then rinse it out. Easy peasy. But the containers are also dishwasher safe if you want to go that route.
How Were The Smoothies?
I tested 3 smoothies – Super Berry Recovery, Coconut Mango Energyade and Strawberry Melon Energy Blast. You’ll find the recipes here.
My first attempt – the Coconut Mango smoothie — was too thin. That was my fault, as I held the container down rather than pulse it. Also, I didn’t chill the coconut water before blending, so I should have added ice. Those were my mistakes. But the Ninja blended all the ingredients in no time. I probably pressed the container down 5-8 seconds longer than necessary. There were no pieces of mint or mango in the drink. Everything was completely blended together. No chunks of leaves or bits of fruit. Perfect.
Next, I turned my attention to the Strawberry Melon smoothie. The recipe called for fresh strawberries. I only had frozen. Didn’t matter. The Ninja’s blades quickly chopped the frozen fruit up. The recipe called for ¼ of a peeled cucumber and chunks of watermelon. I left the seeds (white watermelon seeds) from both intact. There were no signs of them when I finished my 10 pulses. The smoothie was silky-smooth. No chunks of ice or produce. And no seeds.
My last smoothie for the weekend – Super Berry – was my husband’s favorite. This was a bigger test as the recipe called for ¼ of a green apple, unpeeled and uncored. I always remove the peel and core when using my blender on apples. When using my juicer, I can drop in whole apples, but it is a rather messy ordeal.
Turns out, that 900- watt motor easily handled the peel and core. That impressed me. Again, after 10 pulses I got a very smooth, delicious smoothie and without the mess.
What Do I Think?
This is excellent if you are a big smoothie drinker. The Ninja is so simple to use and it only takes minutes to make the smoothies. Plus the to go cups really saves you time if you are rushing out the door.
While I can see using the Nutri Ninja for a few things I do with my food processor (pesto, salsa), I don’t see it replacing my food processor, but that’s OK. It’s not designed to do that. It pulverizes fruits and veggies into smooth delicious drinks that captures all the nutrients.
However, if you are thinking about buying a juicer, you might want to give the Nutri Ninja a serious look. Retailing at $90, it’s cheaper than my Breville juicer ($350). Unlike my juicer, the simplified Ninja doesn’t need the compost bag for peels as it pulverizes them and blends them into the smoothie. Also it’s easier to clean than a juicer and doesn’t take up much space on your counter — a big bonus if, like me, you have limited counter space.
I can wait to start use it to make my protein shakes, marinades, salad dressings and protein pancake batter. All things I do by hand now because my big blender is a wee bit temperamental. The Nutri Ninja will definitely save me lots of time in the kitchen.
Disclaimer: While I wasn’t paid for my review, the folks at Ninja Kitchen did send me a Nutri Ninja (retail value: $90). However, I wasn’t asked to give a positive review. They wanted my honest opinion of their product. They fully understood that I was going to review it on my blog whether I liked their product or not.