Sturdy, powerful, but beware the hot stuff
While we’re not a smoothie-drinking household, our stick blender is probably our most used small appliance – after the kettle, of course. We make all kinds of blended foods, from The Husband’s special-recipe guacamole, to avocado and coffee chocolate mousse, beetroot puree and vegetable mustard mash, to name but a few. (The one thing all of these things have in common is that they contain at least one warm ingredient. Bear this in mind. I shall come back to it later.)
So, when I was offered the use of the NutriBullet Pro 1000 and the NutriBullet Blender Combo, I was keen to check them out and gauge their impact – if any – on my lifestyle. These appliances don’t come cheap, so I was grateful for the opportunity to put them to the test before having to decide if I was going to put my hand in my pocket. I had been in the market for a blender/extractor a few years ago, but the price of the NutriBullet scared me off. And the eventual leakage or motor problems which occurred with cheaper alternatives frustrated me so much I decided I could live without it.
During the two-week review period, some of my considerations were:
- ease of use and versatility
- how easy – or difficult – they were to clean
- how much of my limited counter – and storage – space they would take up
NutriBullet Pro 1000
This unit, marketed as NutriBullet’s “compact powerhouse blender… with new, ergonomically redesigned blades and cups and a powerful 1000-Watt motor”, is packaged with its 1000W base, an easy-twist extractor blade, two 700ml cups with lids, a 590ml travel cup and a recipe book.
While the two units I tested will serve different needs so shouldn’t really be compared, if I were to buy a NutriBullet, this is probably the one I would go for. What immediately appealed to me was its sturdy design and that it was very easy to use. A massive plus was that it didn’t take up much space and was also easy to clean.
The first thing I made was a banana coffee smoothie, which was inspired by something I drank when I visited my friend in the US a couple of years ago. The banana, cold coffee, almond milk and ice proved to be no challenge at all for the NutriBullet Pro 1000’s powerful motor and blades. What I found quite useful was the smoothie-building graphic in the recipe book and the clear guides on the cup to ensure you don’t overfill it. In a simple smoothie, first into the cup will be the greens, followed by fruit, nuts, liquid and then ice so that when you turn the sealed cup upside down to attach it to the base, the ice will be closest to the blades. It is emphasised a number of times in the instruction manual as well as the recipe book that you should always add some liquid to your smoothie.
Also emphasised is that you shouldn’t blend warm or hot ingredients in the cups as this could cause a pressure build-up and a nasty accident when you unseal the cup.
Quick and easy
I put the NutriBullet’s ease of use and efficiency to the test when, at a whim, I decided to welcome my cycling buddies back from their maiden 100km ride, with some refreshing smoothies. It was around 9am I had the idea. They were due to return at 10.30am. In between I would have to pop in at the shops to buy the fruit, blend and package the smoothies and cups, and drive to the meet-up point about 7km away. Neither I nor the NutriBulllet broke a sweat, with a simple twist activating the one-minute smoothie-making cycle on the Pro 1000. Be warned though. It makes one hell of a noise!
For two 700ml cups of a refreshing fruit smoothie, I used:
- 4 large green apples
- 1 small punnet of raspberries
- 2 handfuls of blue berries
- 1 punnet of strawberries
- A splash of almond milk in each cup
- 4 ice cubs
One Friday afternoon I was enjoying the fact that the weekend had arrived and decided that gin would be the all-important liquid component of my next attempt at a smoothie and I made a delicious summer fruit cocktail of pineapple, apple, ginger, ice and gin, garnished with lemon. Delicious.
NutriBullet Blender Combo
If you’re looking for something with more versatility in terms of how much and what you can process with the NutriBullet, this may be the option that you’re looking for. I have a decent size kitchen, but not a lot of counter space, so if that’s an important consideration for you, bear in mind that the Blender Combo takes up far more space, with its multi-function base and 1.6-litre pitcher.
Like the Pro 1000, the Blender Combo also has a 1000W motor, easy-twist extractor blade and comes packaged with a 590ml travel cup, one lid, a pitcher lid with vented lid cap, and a tamper which can be used to move ingredients around in the pitcher.
While the NutriBullet is activated by turning the cup once it’s attached to the base, the Blender Combo’s motor base has five buttons: power, pulse, extract and high and low settings. This unit, too, is very powerful and noisy – but also very study – and the suction cups on the base ensure it doesn’t move around even when on the high power setting.
And if you’re going to be blending warm or hot foods, this is the NutriBullet unit you should be using. But be sure you use the pitcher – which has a vented lid – and on the smoothie cups.
To test this unit’s functionality, I decided to make almond butter which has become something of a staple in our mostly-Paleo household. A simple-to-follow recipe was included with the unit:
- 4 cups of raw almonds
- 4 table spoons of coconut oil
- Roast the almonds for 15 minutes and allow them to cool for 10 minutes
- Add the roasted almonds and room temperature coconut oil to the pitcher
- Seal with the lid and pulse about 4 times
- Select the LOW setting and blend
- When the ingredients are combined and fairly smooth, blend on HIGH until it reaches your preferred consistency.
When it was all done, I felt great that I had made my own delicious almond butter. However, it actually worked out more expensive than buying the same amount of almond butter from a supermarket; and the pitcher was a nightmare to clean.
Both the units were high quality appliances, powerful and very easy to use. I also liked the clean, simple design of the Pro 1000. However, because we rarely drink smoothies and because of the kinds of blended foods The Husband makes, the deal-breaker for us was that you cannot blend hot ingredients in the NutriBullet Pro 1000.
I loved the versatility of the Blender Combo, but I just don’t have the space or the budget for it. I also got very frustrated at how difficult it was to clean all the grooves in the jug and the area around the blade.
Retail prices: NutriBullet Pro 1000 – R3 299
NutriBullet Blender Combo – R3 999