Enter the Ninja!

It’s true that when given the new Ninja Auto IQ blending system to review, I was more than a little skeptical. Maybe it’s my disdain for infommercials – undoubtedly driven by flashbacks to those old Popeil Pocket Fisherman ads of days past. Perhaps it’s more of a disbelief that someone really has improved on old-school blender technology. But color me impressed! Those claims of quickly and smoothly blending juices and soups to silken perfection? The promises of easy clean-ups? The testimonials from consumers whose lives have been changed by its versatility? True! True! True!

I never pictured myself as one of those people – you know the ones who chug healthy veggie-filled tumblers in the morning and probably look like Jack Lelane in their 80s. But while I won’t be swimming the Golden Gate Channel, nor pulling 10 boats filled with cheering fans behind me across Puget Sound anytime soon, I do feel like my new fruit-and-veggie-filled morning diet is sustainable and definitely high on the health-conscious scale.

Three weeks ago I brought home the sheriff’s buttload of fruits and veggies: oranges, apples, berries of every size and color, organic kale, spinach and pineapple. Since then, my mornings have been spent fluttering around the kitchen like a mad professor concocting complex (and delicious!) marriages of fruits and vegetables of all kinds. Succulent, golden pineapple have jumped into the Ninja for an early-morning tango with jeweled pomegranate and earthy spinach – and the added punch from a pinch of cayenne (or a knob of fresh ginger) give just the kind of zing I’m looking for at dawn’s early light.

The Ninja definitely gives Vitamix a run for the money. Talk about versatile! Today was a perfect example: After enjoying a breakfast smoothie of oranges, blueberries and pineapple blended on the Auto IQ system with baby spinich, I started into my dinner plans. The Ninja’s food processor made quick work of the crust for my savory red chard galette. And later in the day, my slow-cooked Asian butternut squash soup was quickly whipped into a perfectly-silken puree in less than 90 seconds (recipe follows). Within these first three weeks of stirring, blending, pureeing, chopping and frappeing, the only time I haven’t been thrilled with its performance? Whipping egg whites. (Although I suspect had I had more eggs and used a larger container, it would have whipped ’em good!). I even tried a blender-burning performance test by tossing in yogurt, whole dried figs and raspberries. The results? A delicious, think and creamy blend that I topped with balsamic glaze and served for dessert!

The bottom line? The Ninja blender duo with AutoIQ system has left my blender and juicer in the dust. Clean-up truly is a breeze (all the parts are dishwasher save on the upper rack). A favorite feature? The control panel is sleek, intuitive, and has protected push buttons with no room for spills or crumbs to catch. From juices to smoothies to salsas and soups, the world inside my kitchen’s walls just got a little less chaotic! This big, powerful beauty has earned a prominent spot on my kitchen countertop.

Thai-Inspired Butternut Squash Soup
(Inspired by Blueacre Seafood‘s Green Curry Mussel dish, this soup brings Thai flavors to a silken soup base)
Heat until melted:
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 chopped onion
3 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp fresh, minced ginger
1 thinly-sliced Serrano chile
2 tbsp prepared red curry paste
Simmer 10 minutes being careful to stir frequently
4 cups vegetable broth
6 cups cubed butternut squash (1 large squash)
1 cup cubed russet potato
2 tsp smoked sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
Cover and bring to a boil at med/high heat, then simmer slowly for 2-3 hours (until tender)
Puree in food processor or blender in two batches (so as not to overwhelm the capacity of your blender)
Return to heat and add one large (18 oz) can of coconut milk
While re-heating, bring a sauté pan to medium/high temp and place two halved-limes – meat-side down – on the surface until charred.
Serve soup in individual bowls and garnish with cilantro and charred lime.

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