As more people hop on the smoothie bandwagon, the blender wars have heated up and customers are no longer content with the low-quality versions usually found at big-box stores that cannot stand up even to the easiest jobs.
Furthermore, Amazon reviews will make sure to single out any contenders that make unpleasant gritty protein shakes or leave chunky pieces of ice in smoothies. Since we are using our blenders more than ever, we want them to do their job!
Thus, here is the review for the Ninja Professional, an excellent upgrade to your clunky blender.
The Ninja Professional: An Excellent Upgrade To Your Clunky Blender
The Ninja, with its combination of innovative design and sturdy construction aims to be an upgrade to the clunky blenders of the past.
So, if you are used to struggling with cheap box-store models that are difficult to clean, get pieces of food stuck in between their blades and that cannot seem to blend even the softest foods, then you will notice a huge difference with a Ninja.
Ninja promises to literally pulverize through large quantities of ice and frozen fruit with sharp stainless steel blades powered by a mighty 1100-watt motor that will ensure a smooth blend every time.
This newer model also comes with two super convenient Nutri Ninja cups with to-go lids that are perfect for making single-serving smoothies, blending sauces and marinades and will make cleanup even more hassle free by eliminating the need to use the larger pitcher every time and allowing you to drink from the same cup in which you blended your smoothie.
If you are currently researching blenders you will notice plenty of reviews comparing Ninjas to Vitamix blenders that will make you question whether a Ninja will work fine for you or if you should just go ahead and shell out $400 for a fancy Vitamix.
But we believe that these comparisons are a a bit unfair as Vitamix is a professional kitchen gadget made with the needs of chefs and commercial establishments in mind, while the Ninja - although advertised with the word “professional” in the name - was designed mostly with morning smoothies and Sunday afternoon margaritas in mind.
While most people who upgrade to Vitamix never come back to a Ninja, the same can be said for people who upgrade to Ninjas from conventional blenders.
We like to think of the Ninja as a budget-friendly alternative to more expensive professional blenders and a powerful step up from classic kitchen models.
A quick look at the Ninja’s Basic Specs
3 Blending Speeds
Single Serve Option
3x Total Crushing Blades
1x Nutri Ninja Blades
72 oz Pitcher
2x 16 oz Nutri Ninja Cups
1 Year Warranty
Here are the features that set the Ninja apart from other run-of-the-mill blenders:
The most important part about the Ninja is that it comes with two sets of super sharp and strong stainless steel blades: one Total Crushing system that will fit the large pitcher and a smaller single set of blades for the Nutri Ninja Cups. The Total Crushing blade features a set of three stacked blade sets that will easily cut through large amounts of ice and frozen fruit and ensure even blends, while the Nutri Ninja blades will fit the to-go cups are better suited for smaller portions.
A powerful 1100-watt motor that can stand up to tough jobs like crushing ice and blending frozen fruit.
Extra Large Carafe
Fits 72oz of liquids, making it one of the largest pitchers of any blender in the market. The large size makes it great for blending multiple servings of smoothies and perfect for entertaining and making large batches of drinks.
Single Serve Setting
Perfect for blending smaller, single-serving portions of smoothies and shakes with an easy and quick set-up.
Nutri Ninja Cups with To Go Lids
Easy and convenient: using the same cups for drinking as for blending will cut down on cleanup and make drinking your smoothies on the go or storing them in your fridge for later even easier.
Features a locking system that prevents the blender from working without it. A small opening for pouring out liquids makes using easy and mess-free.
Dishwasher Safe Parts
Makes cleanup quick, easy and thorough.
What users have to say about the ninja Professional
Excellent at crushing ice and frozen fruit
Large pitcher allows for blending in bulk
Sturdy, no slip base prevents vibration and “walking”
Blade design moves ingredients around well enough that they don’t get stuck in between them and there is rarely a need to scrape the sides in order to mix everything
Makes smooth and frothy drinks
To-go cups reduce the amount of items to clean up and make using the blender even easier
Difficult to clean by hand because of the sharp blades, square design of the carafe and its large size
Blades will lose sharpness over time and the overall especially when you use it a lot for frozen fruit or ice
Not good for blending things in very small amounts
It doesn’t have a vent, so ingredients must be cooled off before being processed to avoid pressure-buildup
The Ninja brings a myriad of improvements that are well worth the money for just a small price difference from other blenders.
While it is not a commercial-grade quality product, it is definitely a major improvement from big-box models.
Therefore, if what you are looking to do is up your smoothie and frozen drink game and have a machine that is capable of handling tougher jobs that a regular blender, you don’t need to shell out for a more expensive brand as the Ninja will work perfectly in your kitchen.
This refreshing Scandinavian-inspired take on shrimp is sure to become a brunch favorite and one of your go-to’s for picnics and beach days. We love it on bread but it’s equally good in lettuce wraps or over a green salad.
1 pound of shrimp, cooked
1/4 cup of radishes, thinly sliced
Bread, crackers or lettuce wraps for serving
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup of mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
1/2 cup of sour cream or creme fraîche
3 tablespoons of dill, finely chopped
1 medium shallot, diced
1/4 cup of green pepper, diced
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt (to taste)
Freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
Chop the cooked shrimp into smaller pieces
In a bowl mix all of the ingredients for the sauce with the shrimp
Serve on bread, crackers or lettuce wraps and top with sliced radishes
Chimichurri is often served alongside steak but this wonderful oil-based sauce is just the right thing to drizzle over seafood and give buttery scallops a herby and acidic pop. We added cilantro to ours to give it a bright twist.
For the scallops:
1 pound of scallops
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon of butter
Freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
For the Chimichurri:
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of cilantro
1/4 cup of parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
To make the Chimichurri: Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until smooth
Season scallops with salt and pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and sear the scallops on each side until browned.
Serve scallops with a drizzle of the Chimichurri sauce
This recipe comes together in less than 15 minutes and combines the mild, grassy taste of leeks and herbs in a buttery sauce. We love it over couscous but it goes great over rice, tossed with some pasta or even on its own with some crusty bread on the side.
1 pound of shrimp
1/2 cup of leeks, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup of your choice of parsley, mint or cilantro
Salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Season shrimp with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat and cook the leeks until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic to the leeks and cook for another minute
Add the shrimp to the pan and cook until pink and firm
Bread: it’s truly a labor of love. There’s the mixing, the kneading, the resting, the kneading again, the slapping, the shaping and rolling and then some more resting again. It’s definitely a lot of work for which most people don’t have the time for and the reason why most of us purchase bread that is already made.
However, as Americans become ever more conscious of the ingredients in their food and start following alternative eating habits such as low-carb or gluten free, interest in homemade bread has started to grow.
This has brought about the comeback of bread machines, an expensive niche product when they first came out in the 90’s that has now become a highly sought-after kitchen appliance.
The biggest advantage to making your own bread is the control that you get over what goes in it. Most store-bought bread is a processed product that is quite far from being real bread and is laden with additives to preserve texture, shape, color and flavor and stop mold growth.
In addition, it’s normally made with low quality flour or one that has a low nutritional profile such as the bleached white variety. Even breads that claim to be “whole wheat” are mostly white flour with a small amount of whole wheat flour mixed in and plenty of sugar courtesy of the addition of corn syrup, rice syrup or molasses.
The second most important advantage is all the time and money that it will save you. When scaled down to price-per-serving, making your own bread is much more affordable than buying it at the store.
The initial purchase of the necessary ingredients you’ll need plus the bread machine will definitely represent more money up front. However, you will quickly recoup your investment over time, especially considering the fact that you will be making a more high quality product that would also cost a lot more when purchasing prepared.
Last but not least is the satisfaction you get to feel after throwing all your ingredients into a machine, go do something else - maybe even go to work - and come back to a delicious, warm loaf of bread you can actually feel good about eating the next day for breakfast.
WHY USE A BREAD MACHINE
Bread machines take much of the guesswork - and actual work- from making bread. They take care of the mixing, kneading and baking parts of the process with easy-to-follow instructions and minimal intervention from the user.
Bread makers are not only useful for making bread loaves from start to finish but also for making dough that you can use for pizza crust or other types of bread such as focaccia.
Most machines have a dough setting that will essentially knead the dough for you. All you need to do once it’s finished is rest it and then pop it into your oven for low-effort homemade bread.
One quick Google search on bread makers will show you that they mostly make the types of bread loaves that are normally sliced and packed for sale at supermarkets. Although the bread made at home is of a higher quality and is made with better ingredients.
This doesn’t mean that you have to limit yourself to homemade white loaf bread. There are plenty of ingredients you can experiment with to create unique flavors and textures. You can try using oatmeal flour, making cinnamon-raisin loaves or baking Parmesan-rosemary bread that will take your lunchtime turkey sandwich from lunchbox staple to a crave-worthy concoction.
More than producing loaf-style bread at home, we believe that the true value of a bread machine lies in the endless possibilities that their dough cycles offer.
In fact, many people own bread machines for the dough cycle alone and do not use them for baking at all. Dough cycles allow you to skip the labor intensive part of kneading dough for French bread, pizza crust, pretzels, dinner rolls, etc. and just rest it once it’s been processed for the amount of time your recipe requires before baking.
Many bread machines also include jam settings that will allow you to add jam to the repertoire of items you can make healthier versions of at home.
Who benefits most from a bread machine
Bread machines are a great kitchen gadget for those who want the satisfaction of making their own bread or dough for other baked goods but don’t have the time for it. Or for those who may have physical limitations that make it difficult to do it.
People who live in areas that are far from supermarkets or bakeries or in which finding specialty products can prove difficult, will find it extremely convenient to be able to make bread to their preference without having to drive an hour to the nearest store or settle for unhealthier options.
Likewise, those that are in places where it may be difficult to find healthy versions of foods that have been made unhealthy by mass production or fast food restaurants such as pizza, cakes, jams and other baked goods will reap plenty of benefits from being able to make better and more delicious varieties of these foods at home.
Bread makers are especially useful for people who have food allergies or restrictive diets and who often have trouble finding baked goods with ingredients that are safe for them to consume.
These machines not only allow people to control all ingredients that go into the finished product but also provide for a more affordable way to access things such as gluten-free breads and nut-free baked goods that can run expensive in many places.
bread Machine shopping guide
Bread machines are more popular and widely available than ever. Nearly every kitchen appliance brand has their own version of them and most machines share similar settings for different types of breads.
They also have delay timers that are useful for programming the time at which you want your loaf to start baking. Still there are a couple of things that you keep in mind when shopping for one:
Size and Weight
Some bread machines can run quite heavy and large. Pay attention to how much counter or cabinet space you have to devote to your machine and check whether its weight is comfortable enough for you to lift it.
Kneading dough is a tough job so make sure that your machine’s paddles can stand up to the job, especially if you’re going to be using heavier dough such as gluten-free.
A machine with good heating settings will ensure an even bake and avoid heavy, dense loaves.
A removable pan may be the thing that marks the difference on whether you use your machine or let it waste away in a corner as it will make cleanup much easier.
Fruit and Nut Dispenser
This feature is especially useful if you plan on making sweet breads such as banana loaves or just add nuts to your savory breads as it will add these ingredients at the right time without you having to add them yourself.
A long-time gold standard, this Japanese-made machine promises perfectly baked loaves every time thanks to a combination of dual kneading blades that knead dough to perfection and dual heaters located both in the bottom and in the lid to bake it evenly.
The Virtuoso has a multitude of settings including vegan, sourdough and gluten-free and three different choices for crust: light, medium and dark. In addition, kneading, rising and baking times are customizable for further experimentation.
Users appreciate its good kneading action, which makes it a great machine for those who are interested in baking breads that have tougher dough such as low-carb and gluten-free.
Although it comes with a hefty price tag, we definitely consider it a sound investment if you’re serious about making your own bread.
If you’re interested in other possibilities that having a bread machine at home can open for you, the Breville Custom Loaf Bread Maker is a great option.
Aside from offering options for baking loaves from 1 pound to 2 1/2 pounds, this bread maker is also great for making dough for pizza crust, focaccia, pasta dough and even jam.
It comes with a fruit and nut dispenser that makes it easier to automatically add flavor and nutrition to your breads and a collapsible paddle that reduces the hole in the bottom of the loaf that so many other bread machines leave.
This compact, budget-friendly option is perfect for those who have small counter space or smaller families or who just aren’t sure whether they will be using their bread machine often enough to justify a larger investment.
Although it’s small, the Oster Bread Maker packs over 12 different bread settings and three crust levels plus the same 13-hour delay timer that can be found in more expensive models.
It features an especially useful Expressbake cycle which will produce a 2 pound loaf in an hour.
3 Crust settings
13-hour delay timer
Compact size and lightweight
Good value for the money
Only 9 pre-programmed settings
No gluten-free setting
Loud beeping signal for adding ingredients can’t be silenced
Another budget and small space-friendly option, this bread machine is perfect for first-time users.
It’s easy to operate and even easier to clean up with a removable dishwasher safe, non-stick pan and paddles.
It features 12 different bread settings and includes a very useful manual with detailed instructions and a repertoire of recipes using Bob’s Red Mill products.
12 Pre-programmed settings
3 Crust settings
2 Kneading paddles
Good value for the money
Bit noisy when mixing and kneading
The non-slip feet aren’t non-slip enough
Knead paddle comes loose
There is quite a lot of that could be included in a review on bread machines. However, knowing all of the above should give you the ability to choose the best one for you and your family. While determining which one is best could depend on your specific circumstances, all of the bread makers mentioned above come highly recommended.
While it could take some time to figure out which bread machine is the best for you and your family, this should be worth it over time. Therefore, being patient before making your decision could be the best approach.
As part of our beach vacation meal plan series, we bring you this vegetarian-friendly version to help you with figuring out how to organize your trip. Just like our omnivore versions, this one includes a combination of make-ahead meals with easy recipes you can whip out in less than 30 minutes each and plenty of prepared foods to tie you in for snacks and sides. Breakfasts are protein-heavy to give you energy for the day and dinners are easy and mostly on the grill for speedy cooking and lots of flavor.
We first outline the foods you will be bringing and/or preparing in advance and then provide you with a handy guide organizing all of them into three-day meal plan:
Many of us subscribe to a no-cook rule while on vacation. After all, what’s the point of going through all the motions of getting there only to end up tied to the kitchen with a sink full of dishes just like every other day at home? Or maybe you’re hesitant because you’re just not a great cook and are secretly afraid of ruining your family’s vacation with overcooked burgers.
But just because you don’t feel like doing the kitchen work or are just not very good at cooking, it doesn’t mean that you need to spend your beach vacation surviving on frozen hot dogs, burgers and pizza with some supermarket brownies on the side or wasting a considerable chunk of each evening waiting for a table at the only restaurant in town where you’ll wind up blowing double the money you were originally planning on spending for that trip.
To help you out in putting delicious food on your table that will make your vacation even more memorable, we searched around for a set of easy recipes with minimal ingredients and barely any cooking time at all. Some only require the assembly of good quality ingredients into a sandwich or appetizer spread while others are so good on their own that all you have to do is throw them on the grill and wait for them to brown.
We first outline the foods you will be bringing and/or preparing in advance and then provide you with a handy guide organizing all of them into a 7-day meal plan:
Along with deviled eggs, fondue and cheese logs quiche has been relegated to the pantheon of old school foods to cringe at the same way we do when remembering the forest green velour pants we wore whilst eating them.
But with all the 70’s nostalgia going around these days, it’s only fair that we also give the decade’s cuisine a fair chance at some well-deserved comebacks and no other dish is a better candidate for this than quiche.
As it happens with any food that becomes ubiquitously popular, quiche has become, since it’s heyday on the American table four decades ago, one of the culinary world’s favorite punchlines.
It brings back bad memories of heavy, custard side dishes to holiday dinners and the frozen versions many of us are used to buying on a whim at the supermarket haven’t helped its reputation at all.
But we’re here to argue that quiche - the homemade kind - is pretty darn good. It’s the perfect multi-purpose food to make ahead and have around for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it works both as a main dish or as a side.
It’s also one of the best meals to feed our current brunch obsession as nothing says: “I had time to make breakfast today because it’s a weekend” better than baking your eggs into a pie.
And let’s not get started on how insta-ready those quiche slices will look with all of the colorful veggies you’ll put into them.
In order to bring the quiche back, we collected a list filled with updated versions that go way beyond the classic quiche Lorraine that you grew up eating and that include modern ingredients that our moms wouldn’t even have dreamed of using back in the 70’s.