The blender is a fantastic tool in the kitchen, if yours is sitting around gathering dust it’s time to make a change! It allows you to prepare foods you simply would not be able to any other way, and can really help to elevate your cooking. Here are some of the things you can make in your blender and get the very most out of it.
The most obvious thing to make in a blender (and the reason most people buy one) is to make smoothies. Smoothies are fantastic, they’re a great way to get more fruit into your diet and make an easy breakfast or snack. Even fussy kids who don’t like fruit will generally sip on a tasty smoothie so it’s something the whole family can get on board with. For an excellent smoothie, every time use frozen mixed berries, chopped frozen banana (for thickness and sweetness) and juice or almond milk. From there you can add any additional ingredients of your choice. Goji berries for a nutrient-packed boost, avocado for good fats, Greek yogurt for protein, even a handful of spinach which you can’t taste when it’s with the other ingredients. Once you have that base smoothie right, you can tailor it with any extras you like so experiment and work out your favorite combinations.
Soup is such a convenient, versatile lunch. It’s light, healthy and a doddle to make if you have a powerful blender such as a Vitamix. There are a variety of models so some research will help you decide on the best Vitamix for you. Roast or boil some veggies, leave to cool and then blend with some stock and herbs. Heat up the mixture in a saucepan and swirl through some cream, creme fraiche or natural yogurt to finish. It’s a great way to use up the odds and ends you have left of your week’s veggies and is a super nutrient rich and healthy lunch. Eat with some wholemeal bread for added fiber if you want something more substantial.
Many of us indulge on unhealthy and expensive curries at the weekend from takeaways, but there’s no need as it’s so simple to make your own. To create your base sauce start with onions- lots of them. Around six large onions will do the trick, chop them and cook them down until they’re brown and sticky for maximum flavor. Add some herbs and spices- garlic powder, turmeric, coriander leaf, paprika and cumin seeds are good choices. Blend up this mixture with a tin or two tomatoes and a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and you have a great base sauce. You can cook this down to reduce it if you want a thicker consistency or add a little water if it’s too thick. Taste your sauce as you go, decide if it needs anything else adding. If you’re not confident with herbs and spices, buy a curry paste (not sauce) jar and add a few tablespoons of this instead. Add some marinated cooked chicken and simmer for thirty minutes until the flavors are infused. Stir through cream or natural yogurt and serve with basmati rice for the perfect weekend treat.
Buying ready made breadcrumbs is kind of expensive, and they can be a little crunchy and bland too. Making your own is far better, they taste nicer, and it’s a good way to use up stale bread. Plus they freeze nicely so if you make a big batch, simply divide into sandwich bags and pop in the freezer to use when you need them Slightly toasted or stale bread (but be aware of mold which is not good!) works best. For added flavor put in a pinch of herbs too. Breadcrumbs are useful for a technique called ‘penang.’ Here you coat meat, fish, even firm cheese in flour, then dip it in beaten egg and finally rolling it in the breadcrumbs. You can cook these in the deep fat fryer, but for a healthier option put them on a baking sheet and cook in the oven. You can make homemade breaded chicken, nuggets, goujons, fish fingers, even mozzarella sticks using this method.
Have you got fruit trees in your garden, or just regularly manage to snag good prices on fruit? A good way to use these up is by turning them into puree. Chop up the fruit and cook it down in a saucepan until it’s caramelized. Once cooled blend it up and put it into containers. If these will be used in recipes or cooking at a later date, you could freeze it in icecube trays. Simply pop out a cube or two from the freezer as needed and use it however you like.