Finally an Affordable Blender that Blends!
I have squandered my entire adult life relying on shoddy, outdated 20th century blenders. This was not due to complete ignorance. I've seen and even used the Vitamix. Yes, it has incredible power and works great. So does the Dodge Viper, but it also doesn't meet my cost/utility requirements. Not feeling that quickly crushed ice was worth $500, I have accepted, year after year, my proletariat quality blenders as just another burden to be borne. This has all changed with my recent purchase of a Ninja blender.
Great for Smoothies
So what motivated me to finally look for a better blender? My wife has gotten into the habit of making smoothies for the family - and especially for our kids. It's an easy way to get them to eat something containing healthy ingredients. But the problem we encountered is that, as bad as our blender is for crushing ice, it's even worse at blending frozen fruit. For some reason it just refused to blend up frozen strawberries no matter how much we swore at it. The frozen fruit will generally stay above the blades just bouncing off them. Adding more liquid can help, but it's not a solution. We would have to constantly push the fruit etc. down into the blades and restart the blender over and over. Sound familiar?
The Ninja just blends everything up in a few seconds. This is due to a few different features. The biggest reason is that the Ninja has three different rows of blades spaced through the pitcher, so the food has nowhere to escape to. This is a vastly superior design to most blenders, with the blades located just at the bottom of the pitcher. Other factors such as the large motor on most models contribute to its performance. (One note: as a result of the blades separation, it is easier to come into contact with them during cleaning, etc. They are very sharp. A few reviews have complained of cutting themselves although I haven't had the misfortune yet. Just be aware of this and use a little extra caution.)
Not only does the Ninja cut through ice and frozen foods better that a traditional blender, but I found the resulting smoothies to taste better. I image this is mostly due to the food being cut into smaller pieces allowing more of the flavor out. It also thoroughly mixes the different foods allowing the desired flavors to be combined well.
The main benefit of the ninja is its superior blending, but it has a few other features worth mentioning. It has a nice 'locking' design when the pitcher is attached to the base to ensure it is correctly attached to the rotor teeth that spin the blades. This makes a very nice leak-proof seal, and eliminates the need for any rubber washer etc. generally found on standard blenders.
This leads to the second feature, which is that I find the ninja easier to clean than most blenders. Although many blenders claim they can be cleaned by just running some soapy water in them, this only cleans the pitcher on most blenders. The base, which consists of a few extra pieces, gets quite dirty, and requires frequent cleaning. The locking mechanism of the ninja eliminates the need for these extra parts. It can actually be cleaned with just the running of warm, soapy water, although I (O.K. my wife:) still cleans it occasionally.
Pros and Cons
- crushes ice and frozen foods with ease
- blends foods finely to make great tasting smoothies
- nice locking design to make sure correctly attached to base
- easy to clean
- many models retail for under $100
- some reviews find it doesn't purée as well as some of the high-end products. For example, if trying to make smoothies contain flax-seed, the seeds are noticeable.
- the pitcher and motor rotors are made of plastic instead of glass and metal, respectively, and may not be as durable.
So, it you really want to blend seeds or other fine ingredients into you smoothies without noticing any 'grit' or pieces of the seeds, you may want to step up to the VitaMix. But if you don't want to spend several hundreds of dollars for a top line blender, but are willing to spend just a little more for a blender that is a vast improvement from the standard blender you've been frustrated with, then the Ninja blender may be just what you're looking for. It is the only blender I've found that costs less than $100 but still works great for making all different types of smoothies.