My family and I have been on a journey to eating healthier this year. If you’ve been following along, you will know all about our recent food choices and changes in lifestyle. One of the things that I have really been wanting to experiment with is smoothies. I have a huge sweet tooth but I have been trying to cut out as much sugar as I can — save for natural sugars.
I figured smoothies would be an easy way to satisfy my sweet tooth naturally, without having to add ANY sugar at all. I was right, however, I quickly learned what a pain it was to make a smoothie in my blender because it just couldn’t handle chopping all that ice and frozen fruit adequately. Cue the Ninja Ultima Blender.
Of course I had seen the ads, and even watched an infomercial or two as I salivated over how awesome this thing looked. But I am not a spur of the moment purchase kind of gal, especially on big ticket items — and make no mistake, this is not your five-and-dime blender. I decided I needed to give it a try though, and the folks at Ninja graciously let me test one out.
Ice Ice Berry Smoothie – with Blueberries and Cherries
I’m not one for following directions when it comes to recipes — typically because I don’t always have every ingredient called for in the recipe on hand and I’d rather just use what I do have available instead of running to the store. With that being said, this ‘recipe’ is easily adaptable and you can make it with whatever you have on hand, as I did.
- Grab whatever frozen (or fresh) fruit you have on hand. I had cherries, blueberries, and a mixed bag of mango, papaya, & pineapple. I also had a fresh banana that I added to the mix.
- Ice (approx 3-4 cubes per person)
- Orange juice or apple juice (I prefer orange, the kids prefer apple)
- fresh lemon juice (if you have it)
- Once you've decided what fruit you would like to add to your smoothie, put the ice in the blender. For each person I would say add about 4 ice cubes.
- Next add the frozen fruit. It is important to add it in this order as I find the ice tends to crush easier if it is on the bottom. It will still work the other way around, you just might have to jostle it around a bit more. Add as much fruit as you feel is needed. If you have to chop the ice a little first to fit the fruit in, then by all means do so.
- Next add your liquid. This is where preference comes into play. I like my smoothies on the thicker side (it almost looks like a frozen yogurt treat) but if you like them thinner so they can be enjoyed through a straw then add more liquid. If you are not sure, start with a little and add more as you go. At a minimum I would go with at least a 1/2 cup liquid for the three person serving I have in my blender.
- Once you have all your ingredients added pulse until desired consistency (the directions in the book say to pulse so I pulsed), if you find that it is too thick for your liking, add more liquid.
Looks can be deceiving. This is a BIG blender pitcher so even though it looks like there isn't much (to me anyway), there is. This was enough to fill three glasses all the way to the top. My two kids and I really enjoyed drinking these and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the amount I made came out to be exactly what I needed. This blender works really fast and I recommend pulsing in really fast pulses. I found that if I pulsed with longer pulses (holding the button down for a longer time between pulses) the smoothie would tend to get stuck in between the blades and I'd have to jiggle it a little to resume crushing. If I simply pulsed really fast this didn't happen as the cyclonic motion kept everything flowing smoothly. Overall this definitely lives up to what it says it will do in terms of crushing ice -- which makes me very happy. 🙂
Single Serve Smoothies
In addition to the full size pitcher, sometimes it is easier and more convenient to use the included single serve cups for making a smoothie. Especially if we are going to be leaving the house, or if we all want something different. You can simply rinse the blade and make a new smoothie lickety-split.
My kids actually preferred having smoothies this way — I think because they felt special when they each got a smoothie made specifically for them.
A few notes:
When making the single serve smoothies you follow the same basic directions as when using the big blender pitcher, however, you should put the ice in LAST in these cups. The reason is because you will be placing the blade on the top of the cup and then flipping it over to place it on the blender. If you place the ice in first, it is harder to get it down to the blades to get that crushing action going. I learned this the hard way.
Again, use fast pulses to get the cyclonic action going, and making sure you have enough liquid is key as well.
Additional items made with the Ninja blender and my thoughts
So far I have made soup and salsa.
The soup pureed very easily, with what appeared to be almost no effort at all from the Ultima. Although I didn’t care for the recipe I made (asparagus soup — still developing something that tastes just the way I want), the consistency was wonderful. There were no lumps, and it literally took me about 10 seconds to get the creamiest soup ever.
My husband made the salsa. Chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, along with a few other select ingredients have been one of his staple food items in his changed diet. The Ninja did an amazing job of getting from whole veggie to salsa in no time at all, however, if you want larger chunks of veggies instead of the smaller ones that are in the salsa, I would recommend purchasing the Ninja Ultima that comes with the food processing bowl (not included in my model).
Overall I think the Ninja Ultima lives up to it’s promises. It is leaps and bounds better than my previous model for ice crushing (which wasn’t a ‘cheapie’ blender either). One of the additional features that I found quite useful was that the bottom has these suction cups, so that when you are using all that power you don’t have to worry about the whole blender base slipping off your counter or table. This was a nice touch.
- 3 blending blades (two of which are removable depending on needs)
- Great at crushing ice really quickly and smoothly
- Large pitcher
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- Locking lid to avoid spills and accidents
- I believe it is too powerful for large dicing so you would need to purchase the food processing bowl separate, or get the upgraded model
- The single serve cups work well but don’t have the three blade features that the large pitcher has (not sure how they could — but it does make it take a little longer to get the ice perfect)
More About the Ninja Ultima
Ninja Ultima Blender (starting at $199.99 MSRP) features include:
- Ninja’s signature Total Crushing™ blades that work in unison with newly developed High Speed Cyclonic blades
- PRO Variable Speed with a range of speeds from 3,700 to 24,000 RPM
Ninja Ultima™ Blender series includes (available only at Bed Bath & Beyond):
- One extra-large, 72 ounce multi-tasking pitcher
- Two 16 ounce Single Serve cups with Sip & Seal™ to-go lids
- One 8 cup capacity food processor bowl
- Making up to two pounds of dough in 30 seconds
All detachable parts are dishwasher-safe and crafted of 100 percent BPA-free plastic.
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