Nutribullet: the Real Low-Down on This Glorified Blender

When the company first sent me a Nutribullet for review, I unpacked it with excitement and immediately started loading the tall, bullet-like plastic cup with kale, carrots, ginger, berries, and a bunch of other produce I had in the crisper. Instead of reading the instructions, I followed the lead of the brightly colored pictures on the box and the handbook, dumping in chunky vegetables and fruits until the contents reached the top of the extractor cup.

My failure to read turned out to be a mistake. I figured out how to screw the blade-equipped cover onto the tall cup and lock the vessel onto the base, allowing the blending process to start. But the contents barely shifted, let alone liquified, and I started to detect the scent of burning plastic as I continued to watch the frustrated blades whirring inside the cup. This is because I neglected to add any water, I discovered when I became confused enough to crack open the instructions booklet. When I did add the liquid and blended again, I ended up with a concoction that was about as tasty as you might imagine. The Nutribullet, it turns out, does not have the power to make liquified ginger, berries, and carrots taste very good.

When I deigned to read a little more, the booklet gave specific instructions on how to create a "Nutriblast." Too specific for my tastes, in fact. It suggested one fill the base of the container with two cups of leafy greens, adding an equal-sized layer of fruit on top of that, and then topping it off with a "boost," like walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, or hemp seeds before adding water to the fill line of the cup. Spoiled by the flexibility of my traditional single-serve blender, I lacked the patience to read more about the ins and outs of this new machine, so I put it back on the shelf until the breakdown of my standard blender forced me to resurrect it.

With a renewed curiosity, I did a YouTube search and found a video in which a woman compares the blending capacity of the Nutribullet to the popular Ninja blender. Impressed by her results (the Nutribullet blend was noticeably creamier, more consistent, and more appetizing-looking), I started reading the Nutribullet handbook a bit more closely, to find that it made a compelling argument for the device.

"Think about eating a bunch of red grapes. You pull a handful off the stems, rinse them, pop one in your mouth, and spit out the seeds," the booklet says. "But did you know over 100 research studies on grapes have shown that the highest levels of nutrients reside primarily in the stem, skin, and seeds of the grapes, rather than the juicy middle section?"

The brochure continued to explain that the Nutribullet is designed to break down fruits, vegetables, and seeds --- including the nutritious parts we are accustomed to throwing away --- into their most digestible, absorbable forms. The blades are even able to pulverize seeds like flax, which is important because flax seeds' wealth of omega-3s, omega-6s, and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese are only bio-available when the seeds have been broken down pre-consumption.

So I decided to give the blender another try, this time using an ingredients mix that would hopefully result in a more appetizing beverage. I added the recommended two cups of greens (I chose organic bok choy), and filled the rest of the cup with fruit (organic frozen strawberries and banana), using vanilla raw vegan protein powder, spirulina, and chia seeds as the "boosts." I filled the cup with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and let it rip for about a minute. The result was much more palatable this time around. I gave the blend to my little sister Chloe, and she was delighted with the taste and consistency.

Next, I decided to try out the milling capability the Nutribullet boasts. This feature is probably most useful for people who want to add flax to their diets. You can, of course, buy ground flax seed where the nutrients are already bio-available. The drawback to this, though, is that the ground seeds give the nutrient content prolonged exposure to oxygen, allowing the seeds to rancify and lose nutritional value more quickly than they would in their whole form. Using the Nutribullet to mill the seeds right before consumption would ensure that the nutrients stay in tact until use. It's also useful for people who bake and want to make their own fresh oat or nut flours.

The machine comes with a different blade for milling. To mill, you just fill any of the cups (one tall, two short) with oats or other grains, nuts, or seeds, then cap the cup with the milling blade top and twist it into the base the same way you do to blend. You can achieve a coarser or finer consistency, depending on how long you let the stuff mill. I milled these oats for about a minute, and the result was a very fine flour with a powdery and consistent texture.

At first, I wasn't too impressed with the Nutribullet, mainly because I was too lazy to read its literature and experiment with it a little. I'm embarrassed to say that it really only took about ten minutes and two tries to get up to speed on its capabilities and see that it's a pretty cool machine. For about $99, it's a handy (and an aesthetically-pleasing) product for anyone looking to cram more fruits, vegetables, and seeds into his or her diet --- or to create fresh homemade flours --- with minimal time investment.

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