The latest craze in healthy eating are so-called juice extractors, powerful blenders that whir up fruits, vegetables, powders and seeds into healthful smoothie-style drinks. Unlike standard juicers that separate the juice from the fiber, with extractors you get all the fiber and all the vitamins and minerals. And one of the most popular extractor blenders is the Nutri Ninja/Nutri Ninja Blender system.
When my Nutri Ninja/Nutri Ninja Blender Blender System Two-in-One Duo arrived in its HUGE box, I thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of stuff.” And it is—a 1500 watt 2 HP blender motor with a non-slip base, a 72 ounce blender pitcher with locking handle lid, tall stacked blades, a food processor bowl with locking lid, a chopping blade, a dough blade, and three Nutri Ninja cups (32-ounce multi-serve, 24 ounce, and 18 ounce) with extractor blades, three Sip & Seal™ lids and three silicon grip sleeves. Whew! I was more than a little intimidated by this product field test.
Along with all of this hardware came an owner’s guide, a “Tips & Recipes” booklet, a “Let’s Get Started Ninja Blender” booklet, a 3-Day Jump-Start Plan by nutritionist Rachel Beller, MS, RD, as well as Beller’s 246-page book, Eat to Lose, Eat to Win. I read through a few recipes and realized many call for ingredients I don’t normally stock like protein powder and almond and coconut milk. So I headed to the store for a few supplies.
Now, I admit I was skeptical about these products. I mean, really, who wants to drink something that contains ingredients like spinach, kale, chia seeds and protein powder? Well, I was wrong. The recipes that come with the Nutri Ninja Blender Duo are amazingly delicious and healthful.
The booklets make using the Nutri Ninja extractor cups sound pretty easy—stack the ingredients in order in the right sized cup, select the proper program button, and the Nutra Ninja does the rest. The Nutri Ninja features Auto-IQ Technology™, pre-programmed settings for each drink or food. The machine knows exactly what to do. In fact, if you punch in an incorrect program for a particular cup size or food or you fail to properly seat or lock in the pitcher, bowl or cups, the Nutri Ninja flashes an error message and waits patiently until you correct the error.
And the Nutri Ninja/Nutri Ninja Blender System is easy. The first recipe I tried was for a drink called Tangerine Protein Machine (banana, spinach, protein powder, tangerine, water, ice). I stacked up the ingredients, turned on the power and selected the Ultra Blend button. The Nutri Ninja’s powerful motor, sounding a bit like a jet engine, took off—bursts of blending for shorter and then longer periods until my lime green colored drink was perfectly smooth. I unscrewed the cup, popped on the Seal & Sip™ lid and the silicone grip (the cup gets cold) and took a drink. It was refreshing, slightly sweet and quite delicious. The spinach, which gave the drink its green color, had completely disappeared and wasn’t detectable in the smooth, slightly citrusy smoothie. Best of all, at 270 calories with 20 g of protein, a beefy 6 g of fiber and only 2 g of fat, this was a healthful and filling protein drink.
For breakfast, I also tried Apple Almond Super Juice (Granny Smith apple, almond butter, protein powder, banana, chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk, ice). I substituted peanut butter for almond butter, flax seeds for chia, and unsweetened almond/coconut milk for the almond milk. I was worried that the flax seeds, which are notoriously tough, would stay seedy. Nope. The Nutri Ninja blended them right up so that they were undetectable. And the drink was super creamy with flavors of banana and peanut butter with a lilt of almond and coconut in the background. Delicious! And, at only 331 calories, this super juice provided a hefty 22 g of protein and 7.5 g of fiber.
One of our RFT editors is a berry fanatic and experimented with her own smoothie recipe—berries, low-fat Greek yogurt, banana and a little coconut sugar. She found her concoction too thick and had to add some water and then she pronounced her berry smoothie quite filling and delicious.
The Sip & Seal™ lids and silicone grips make it easy to seal and take your juice drink with you. The lids, with a tight-fitting cup seal and securely closed sipping hole (it takes some muscle to unlock it), make this a to-go cup that don’t leak. The cups, even the large 24-ounce, fit snugly into a car or truck cup holder.
More than Nutritious Juice
The Nutri Ninja/Nutri Ninja Blender System and recipes aren’t just for extracted juice drinks. The Nutri Ninja/Nutri Ninja Blender System can extract, chop, puree, and grate foods. There are recipes for soups, dips, salsas, mocktails, chopped salads, meatballs/sausage, and bread, cookies, pancake and pizza dough. There’s even a recipe for healthy chocolate banana mousse!
The blender pitcher, food processor bowl, and Nutri Ninja cups all lock securely into the blender motor. The motor comes with four suction cups for securing it to the surface and that’s important because this 1500 watt 2 HP motor is powerful. Without securing the blender motor, the blender jumps a little each time the blender pulses on.
I was intrigued by the Chicken and Apple Sausage Recipe, but I was a little more than skeptical. I’ve tried making sausage with my food processor with less-than-satisfying results. It chops unevenly and I end up with meats that are both mushy and lumpy. Not with the Nutri Ninja!
The recipe called for boneless skinless chicken thighs, two apples, onion, fresh sage, salt and pepper. First I chopped up the apple and onion in the food processing bowl using the pulse function. I opened the lid a couple of times and scraped the bowl sides to ensure an even chop. They came out finely chopped; much finer than I could have produced chopping by hand (and much faster too). Then I sautéed the apples and onions.
After cutting the chicken into two-inch chunks, I chopped them on pulse in the food processor bowl. The Nutri Ninja’s powerful chopping blade with its two sets of sharp blades on a five-inch center post easily and evenly chopped the chicken into the perfect sausage consistency. I added the chicken, sage and spices to the sautéed apple and onion in a bowl and mixed with a spoon.
The recipe called for shaping eight patties and cooking them for 10 minutes on parchment paper in the oven. I had enough meat for a couple of extra patties and I fried these in a little olive oil. The result—both baked and fried—was some of the best sausage I’ve ever eaten with bright apple, onion, chicken and sage flavors. The patties were super juicy. The fried patties were crisper on the edges and the texture was firmer; the baked patties were softer and a little juicier. Both were delicious. Perhaps best of all, these chicken patties contain no fillers, no additives, no nitrates or other preservatives. And they took me only 20 minutes to make (including baking time).
We tried the Nutri Ninja/Nutra Ninja Blender System food processor bowl and chopping blade again to process some green tomatoes. One of the favorite recipes around the Realfoodtraveler.com offices is for green tomato bread. The only problem? It’s very laborious to chop all the green tomatoes into tiny pieces. Using the pulse function, I chopped up enough tomatoes for two batches of bread in about 20 seconds and the tomatoes were evenly and finely chopped. (We hand cut the cherry tomatoes. The Nutri Ninja pulverized these super-juicy tomatoes, rendering them too juicy for bread.)
One of the things I love about the Nutri Ninja food processor bowl is, unlike other food processors, there’s no hole in the bottom of the bowl when you remove the blade. That makes it easy to remove food from the bowl.
The thick plastic bowl, pitcher, and cups and the beefy plastic/metal blades of the Nutri Ninja Blender System are all dishwasher safe (cups and blades should be washed on the top shelf). I washed the cups and food processor bowl and blades in the dishwasher and they came out sparkling. However, some dish washing soap was somehow forced between the bowl and the locking mechanism on the outside during the wash cycle. While this doesn’t affect the performance of the food processor bowl, next time I’ll hand wash this piece.
Sound Nutritional Advice
If you get Beller’s book, Eat to Lose, Eat to Win with your Nutri Ninja/Nutri Ninja Blender System, it’s a real bonus. I wrote almost exclusively about health for two decades and I can tell you that this nutrition/cookbook isn’t just the latest fad. It’s good nutritional advice based on solid science.
Beller doesn’t expect people to “diet” to lose weight (something we all know doesn’t work). Instead, she endeavors to get people to improve their diets in healthful ways—eating more fiber, whole grains, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats; cutting down on sugars and unhealthy fats; and avoiding empty calories and harmful chemicals like mercury, additives, and preservatives.
She also has a section that debunks the latest healthy food “facts” that play havoc with our waistlines and our good health. She cleverly calls this her “Food Autopsy Alerts.” For instance, did you know that most of those frozen “lite” meals are chock full of unhealthy fast, sugar, and sodium and contain almost no fiber or nutrition? Or that sushi is a carb overload? Most people who diet go for salads, but they’re often loaded with high-fat, high-calorie ingredients like cheese, dried fruits, nuts and sweet balsamic vinegar. The popular “wrap” sandwiches are usually packed with calories and little nutrition. And she gives us the bad news about those so-called “healthy” drinks like soy lattes and green tea smoothies—they’re full of calories and sugar.
Beller offers healthy alternatives, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes; some that use the Nutri Ninja, many that don’t. She takes readers shopping, including suggesting name brands you can easily find in grocery or health food stores. Based on Beller’s book, I found myself scouring the shelves in the health food section of my local super store and loading up on unsweetened almond/coconut milk, protein powder, and high-fiber cereal.
Real Bottom Line: The Nutri Ninja/Nutri Ninja Blender System is a powerful kitchen tool that can help you improve your nutrition and save you time in the kitchen. We loved the Nutri Ninja cups and extractor blade and found they produce delicious and nutritious smoothie-type drinks with all the fiber and nutrition of whole fruits, veggies, seeds and protein sources like almond milk and protein powder. Even if you’re not a big fan of fruits or vegetables, making them in extracted drinks with the Nutri Ninja will let you easily and deliciously “sneak” more of these wholesome foods into your diet. We’re looking forward to exploring more extractor juice recipes and inventing our own.
The Nutri Ninja food processor bowl and chopping blade offers strong, quick and easy chopping power. With the Nutri Ninja, I’ve purchased my last store-bought sausage! Making it myself with the Nutri Ninja is so easy, I’m looking forward to turning different meats, fish and veggies into sausage, dips, and salads. We’re also anticipating exploring recipes using the dough hook and the blender.(Next on my list is Marghreta pizza with whole wheat pizza dough!) In addition to recipes in Rachel Beller’s book, the Nutra Ninja website offers more recipes.
Around the realfoodtraveler.com offices, we’re looking forward to playing more with our Nutri Ninja Duo Blender and with the recipes from the booklets, the Nutri Ninja website and from Beller’s book. In fact, several of us are going to try Beller’s Three-Day Jump-Start using Nutri Ninja extracted juices and soups to get us off on the right foot. Who knows? With Nutri Ninja, this year may just be the healthiest yet at realfoodtraveler.com. You and your loved ones might just want to try this Nutri Ninja/Nutri Ninja Blender System too. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor