Friday, July 19, 2013

Disclaimer: this post is basically a Vitamix infomercial

So a month or so ago I got married which has led to many cherished life moments, not least of which have come from one of our wedding presents: the Vitamix blender. Despite being an avid reader of food blogs, I wasn't aware that this professional series of blenders existed until my sister got one for Christmas. Pouring over all the possibilities, it seemed like a worthwhile addition to my already very appliance stocked kitchen, so I added it to the registry and was incredibly grateful when someone gifted us one. 

Sadly it doesn't quite fit on our counter with the lid on (this thing is huge--note in the photos how it dwarfs our coffee maker), but I use it regularly enough so we've just taken to laying the lid alongside it where our old, lesser blender used to dwell. I was a little intimidated when first starting out, so I started small: with soups and smoothies. Below is my first creation in our new blender: 

The inaugural blend! I can't remember what all went in there, but I think this thing took down an apple and, judging by the color, some spinach.
Since then I've made any number of smoothies and daiquiris (how else to get rid of the handle of rum leftover from the wedding?). I've learned this thing can blend pretty much any fruit and vegetable with minimal chopping, including but not limited to: whole limes, lemons, and oranges (peeled or unpeeled), whole apples (well , cored), carrots, broccoli, celery, and any amount of greens or ice. I've also learned that just because you can now blend all the produce in your fridge together, doesn't mean they will necessarily taste good together. For the record, the smoothie above actually did taste quite good, but I'll be the first to admit it's kind of sick looking.
Carrot fennel soup. Smooth and creamy unlike soups created with my cheap and useless immersion blender.
I think the Vitamix will be incredibly helpful come proper soup season, but I'm enjoying souping some of our farm share vegetables. I've decided basically any vegetable we get too much of can be either souped or smoothied. We've been getting a lot of squash lately, so consequently we've been eating a lot of squash soup. The soup above was made with a fennel bulb (the fronds are seen as garnish) which is something else I never know what to do with from the farm share.

Smoothies and soups are child's play for the Vitamix, however, and before posting this I wanted to try something a little more ambitious. After my attempt to make tahini was a fail (although I think that was more to do with the fact that my sesame seeds were at least 2 years sesame seeds go bad?), I set my sights a little higher: a raw cheesecake. Now I've attempted to make vegan desserts in the past (in fact, I think I even blogged about it a couple of years ago, but I'm too lazy to find the post). The results were always disappointing, not to mention expensive. I never could understand how the rest of the Internet could whip soaked nuts into a creamy cheese-like substance, and all mine turned into was a blended concoction with little chunks of nuts. Now that I own a Vitamix, I note that the secret to their raw food sorcery was right under my nose the whole time. On one of the recipes, under "equipment required" it just says "blender" but there's a picture of a Vitamix. I'm beginning to see that in raw food circles, Vitamixes aren't just a blender, they are the only blender.

I consulted a number of different recipes, all equally simple and requiring equally pricey ingredients, and in the end made my own based somewhat on what I had around. Here was my process:

3/4 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup almonds
3 cups soaked cashews (I soaked mine for 2 hours)
3/4 cup honey
3/4 coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 limes, juiced (lemons would probably be better, but I had limes on hand)

First, I blended the dates and almonds together. I actually used my food processor for this step (sorry, Vitamix!), but I think the blender would work fine too. A few recipes I read suggested adding some shredded coconut or sprinkling it on the bottom of the pan to keep the crust from sticking. All I could find at the store was artificially sweetened coconut, and I wasn't spending all this energy on making a raw, vegan, refined-sugar free dessert to go that route. Instead I just spritzed some coconut oil on the bottom of the pan before smushing the date/almond mixture onto it and it seemed to work just fine. Also, I used a 9'' springform pan because that's what I have, but I think this recipe would work better for an 8'' one, as you will note how thin my resulting cheesecake is.

After smushing the crust together, I put all the rest of the ingredients in the Vitamix like so:

Doesn't quite look like cheesecake yet. Note: the white wine is not an ingredient, but is nevertheless an important part of the experimental baking (or rather, not baking) process. 
It took a bit of blending and made a noise concerning enough that both Sam and I questioned if the other person had sent off our Vitamix warranty form, but in the end we ended up with a creamy and delicious tasting mixture. After pouring it onto the crust and refrigerating for a while (and, oh yeah, adding some raspberries to the top for color), that resulted in this:
A humble and squat, but delicious raw "cheese"cake. 
He's like a little tasty alien. 
The results were a resounding success! Alas, this thing probably cost me about $15 in cashews, dates, and raw honey (not the mention the raspberries which are seriously like pink gold around here), so I probably won't be making another one any time soon. It's nice to know that I have the option though, as through the Vitamix all things are possible. I know at least one of my readers has her own Vitamix--any tips and tricks you'd recommend?


  1. Ok, so it was a resounding success and...What did it taste like? I have never had any raw food concoctions like this. I mean if you gave it to someone and said it was cheesecake would they think it had cheese in it? I can't help but think that despite the texture someone would notice a "nutty" flavor.

  2. Hmm well I consider it a success in that it tastes like raw cheesecakes I've had in the past, but yeah, they're definitely a different animal than actual cheesecake.

    It doesn't really taste nutty (more like vanilla), and it has a creamy texture that is pleasing but would never be mistaken for cheese. It's definitely not a food meant to fool anyone, but I think it can be appreciated in its own right. Also, despite no eggs or cheese, it's very rich, which makes sense given the large fat content from the nuts. The little piece pictured was surprisingly filling!

  3. I made pesto in my vitamix this weekend, although I can't believe I haven't made a raw cheesecake yet! My friend uses hers to liquify fresh fruit to add to her sodas. I'm not sure how you feel about grated fresh ginger, but I've found it is the secret to making those green juices good. I can make a great smoothie with an apple, kale, maybe a kiwi or two if it's around, and some fresh ginger. You don't even have to grate the ginger, just cut off a tiny slice and the vitamix will work it out. Or a few bits of spinach in any regular smoothie you won't be able to taste.

  4. I haven't made pesto yet except in my food processor, but if I get any more garlic scapes from the farm share, I surely will.

    I put spinach or kale in pretty much every smoothie, but I can always taste it a little. Will try the ginger trick. Thanks for the tip!