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Blendtec Designer 725 Review: What Really Matters in Your Kitchen

How many gadgets and gizmos do you have in your kitchen? I’m guilty of buying a specialty tool or appliance almost every time I go to Target. You need to cut a vegetable? I have a vegetable peeler, a julienne peeler, a food processor, and a mandolin slicer. Oh, and I have knives.

How often do these specialty tools get used? When it comes to getting food on the table quickly, I reach for the same standbys and the fun stuff stays in a drawer. Unfortunately that means I’m stuck making the same old standby recipes, too.

Ease of use

Blendtec_Designer 725_1

While a high-end, high-powered blender might be a specialty tool for some people, I’ve had my eye on a Blendtec for a while. I saw a demonstration of what this blender could do about a year ago, and I was impressed. Since then, every time I make soup, or rush out of the house without breakfast, or drop $20 at the store on hummus (hey, I like hummus), I thought about what I could do with a Blendtec.

With the opportunity to test the Blendtec Designer 725, I wanted to skip the novelty “Will it Blend?” tests and get down to what really matters to me in the kitchen.

I don’t want to have to re-read the manual every time I want to use an appliance. I opened up the Blendtec box and was whipping up my first smoothie within 60 seconds. Sure, there is a manual, but I’ll be looking at it more for the dozens of recipes included in the box.

Blendtec_Designer 725_3
The base of the Blendtec has an interactive touch screen. It’s a friendly blender, with words of encouragement and easy-to-follow instructions. With preset cycles for smoothies, frozen treats, juice, soup, dips, and even the clean cycle, it’s pretty foolproof.

I did have a tiny bit of confusion when a recipe called for “Level 7” instead of any of the presets, and the first few times I tried to pulse I just turned it off, but that was all in the first five minutes of using it. By minute 10 I felt like an expert.

Ease of cleaning

Washing made easy If a tool or appliance takes longer to clean than the time I spend using it, it’s not getting used. Also, I recently moved from a condo with a dishwasher to a house WITHOUT a dishwasher. My tolerance for cleaning fiddly parts is pretty low.

Imagine my glee to discover the preset button for cleaning. This is by far the easiest to clean blender I have ever used. Dump a cup of water and a drop of dishsoap into the jar, and press clean. Rinse, and you’re ready for your next blend.

Word of warning: When they tell you to make sure the lid is secured tightly before blending food, they probably mean that for the cleaning cycle, too. I sprayed suds all over my kitchen counter, but with the sealed touchscreen base, I didn’t have to worry about the water damaging anything.

When I made broccoli soup in the blender I did have to swipe a sponge across some stuck on food near the top of the jar, but the one-piece jar was so much easier to clean than my old $30 blender with rubber gaskets and separate blades.

Fresh food

I follow a very strict gluten-free diet, so it’s extremely important that I know every ingredient going into my food. That usually means I prepare things from scratch instead of buying processed versions. I need tools that help make that job easier.

Broccoli Soup Ingredients

Check out the ingredient list for a container of Campbell’s Broccoli Cheddar Bisque:

Chicken Stock, Broccoli, Cream (Milk), Celery, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola, and/or Soybean), Contains Less than 2% of: Modified Cornstarch, Cheddar Cheese (Dried) (Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Cream, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Lactic Acid), Wheat Flour, Onions (Dried), Broccoli (Dried), Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Maltodextrin, Parmesan Cheese
(Milk, Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Soy Protein Concentrate, Yeast Extract, Flavoring, Nonfat Milk, Butter (Dried) (Cream [Milk], Salt), Garlic (Dried), Buttermilk (Dried), Roasted Garlic (Dried), Spice, Sunflower Lecithin, Annatto Extract for Color, Soy Lecithin.

Here’s the ingredient list of the broccoli cheddar soup I made from a Blendtec recipe:

Steamed broccoli, vegetable broth (I used homemade stock), water, kosher sea salt, ground black pepper, ground nutmeg, cheddar cheese.

Flavorful food

I try to shop at farmer’s markets for in-season food, and while I don’t always buy organic, I’m picky about the produce I get at the grocery store. When I go to all that effort, I want my ingredients to shine. I tried some basic recipes out of the Blendtec cookbook that came with the blender – a green smoothie, hummus, almond butter, and broccoli soup to start.

I was very impressed with the simple instructions that produced a good, solid base to work with. With all of those recipes, I divided up the end result and threw it back into the Blendtec to make new flavor combinations. My green smoothie got a tropical twist with extra pineapple and mango. Plain hummus turned into spicy roasted garlic hummus. I made a sweet treat out of chocolate almond butter. I turned a chunky broccoli soup into a whipped puree with added heat from smoked paprika.

As an experimenter in the kitchen it’s important to know that I have a good base to start with, and I can have fun with new flavors. I can tell the Blendtec will give me that starting point for so many meals.

Saving money

The Blendtec is a high-end kitchen appliance, and it does require a pretty high investment up front, but I think I’ll make money back on it in a year. With an 8-year guarantee warranty, let’s say I’ll get at least 10 years out of this model. From making my own hummus out of a dollar’s worth of beans to making soup to bring to work instead of buying lunch, that’s immediately a few hundred dollars I’ll save in a year.

Then don’t forget food waste. While cooking at home is almost always cheaper than eating out, I still hate to waste ingredients. Instead of throwing out the last bits of greens or herbs that have started to wilt, I can toss them into a smoothie with whatever fruit I have around as well.

Next up: I’ll test out the messiest tasks in my kitchen to see if the Blendtec really lives up to its promises.

Black + Decker: Product Preview

Sporting a total brand makeover, Black + Decker showcased a number of new items at the 2014 International Home + Housewares Show. Viewpoints staff attended the show and wanted to share some of the upcoming products with readers. Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Cleaning: Helpful Appliances and Cleaners

Spring Cleaning starts with fresh linens. Tell us about your washing machines and earn a bonus this week from Viewpoints Rewards.

Spring Cleaning starts with fresh linens. Tell us about your washing machines and earn a bonus this week from Viewpoints Rewards.

Spring is a time for renewal and fresh starts, and spring cleaning is a vital part of the process. Cleaning out your home after months of hibernation from the cold can be stressful, but Viewpoints reviewers come to the rescue and recommend washing machines, vacuums, dishwashers, and other general household cleaners that can help make this year’s spring cleaning the easiest yet.

Editor’s note: Earn double Viewpoints Rewards points this week (through April 18) for dishwashers, washing machines, vacuums and household cleaners. Write a review here

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George Foreman Grills and the Best Alternatives

George Foreman grills

Having fresh-grilled food in winter isn’t hard with an indoor grill. Viewpoints reviewers weigh in on George Foreman grills and the best alternatives.

One of the biggest struggles for a Midwesterner like myself is surviving the harsh winters without outdoor grilling. Luckily, there are plenty of indoor grills that bring freshly grilled food to your table all year-round. While George Foreman grills are the most recognizable in the indoor grill market, there are a number of alternative indoor grills available that can provide the same delicious grilled food with less cost and more versatility. Viewpoints reviewers weigh in on the topic and give their opinions on which indoor grill is better than the rest.

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What Are the Different Types Of Dishwashers?

What are the different types of dishwashers?

I the market for a dishwasher? You might want to familiarize yourself with the different types before you buy.

The modern dishwasher can be traced to Josephine Cochrane who unveiled her hand-powered invention at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Once considered a luxury, many families could not dream of a kitchen without one. But there are tons of different types. What are the different types of dishwashers? We take a look below.

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Dishwasher Quick Wash Saves More Than Time

Dishwasher

What happens when you use the “Quick Wash” setting on your dishwasher — even when you aren’t pressed for time? Viewpoints welcomes the smart people at Powerhouse Dynamics, a leader in energy measurement and management, as expert contributors to our blog. They discovered something that could save you money.

I’m one of those people who rinses all the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I know I’m not supposed to do this – modern detergents need to “eat” something, and if there are no bits of food to eat, the detergent will eat my dishes, or something like that — but I can’t seem to help myself. Is that a little bit neurotic? It is? OK, just checking.Because this is a habit I can’t seem to break, I decided to see if I’m reaping any benefit from it. If I remember correctly from my high school psychology class, I believe this is a defense mechanism known as “rationalization.”

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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Dishwasher

How to get the most out of your dishwasher

Did you know loading the dishwasher improperly can affect how well your dishes are cleaned? We let you in on four secrets to getting your dishwasher running at peak performance.

Are your dishes getting as clean as they can be? These four steps will tell you how to get the most out of your dishwasher. We’ll tell you what to clean, how to load your dishwasher and when it’s time to replace your dishwasher with a newer model.

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Breakfast Made Easy: Hamilton Beach 25475 Breakfast Sandwich Maker Review

Breakfast Sandwich

Who doesn’t love a good breakfast sandwich? Viewpoints staffers test out the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker to find out if it lives up to the hype.

Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for many, there is simply no time to stand around and cook the typical breakfast foods. Breakfast sandwiches have become the solution to morning time constraints for those of us who trade that extra 20 minutes of sleep in exchange for eating a well-rounded breakfast. The problem is that while a breakfast sandwich is quick to pick up at any coffee shop or fast food restaurant, these daily purchases pile up, as well as the calories. Viewpoints reviewers agreed that the Hamilton Beach 25475 Breakfast Sandwich Maker offers a solution, giving busy people a quality kitchen investment that neither their wallets nor waists will regret. Read the rest of this entry »