Why Whole Foods?
Cashew Crema is a wonderful, dairy-free topping for fresh fruit or desserts.
According to the USDA, healthier diets could prevent at least $87 billion per year in medical costs, lost productivity, and lost lives.
Whole Food Health Benefits
In 2014 in the Annual Review of Public Health, Dr. David Katz and Dr. Stephanie Meller from Yale University published a study comparing different popular diets. As the Atlantic, reporting on their work, concluded:
A diet of minimally processed food close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.
[N]utritionally-complete, plant-based diets are supported by a wide array of favorable health outcomes, including fewer cancers and less heart disease. These diets ideally include not just fruits and vegetables, but whole grains, nuts, and seeds as well.
We can, it appears, make a positive impact on our health by eating more whole foods. Papa would not be surprised.
Besides just plain tasting good, whole foods usually offer more nutrition. As a group, whole foods generally have higher nutrient density. What is nutrient density? It simply means that the foods have a large percentage of nutrients relative to the total number of calories. Blueberries and kale, for example, considered to be superfoods by some, have a very large number of nutrients relative to their calories. Not all whole foods are low in calories of course, but even foods like avocados and nuts are much more nutrient-dense than a serving of a more processed snack—even if you eat the same number of calories. Great taste and good nutrition together? Absolutely.
Whole foods are clearly very good for us, but do we eat enough of them? Sadly the answer is no, and we can't really say it is for lack of awareness about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013 showed that only about 37 percent of American adults eat fruit daily and only about 22 percent eat vegetables daily.
If American adults are eating too few fruits and vegetables, we are arguably eating too many processed foods. According to a study conducted through UNC Chapel Hill, more than 60 percent of the calories in the food American consumers buy comes from overly processed food, which also tends to have more fat, sugar, and salt content than other foods.
What counts as processed food? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics identifies a range. First, there are minimally processed foods like bagged greens. Next they identify foods processed at their peak to preserve nutrition, such as frozen vegetables. Then foods with ingredients—such as sweeteners, fats, or preservatives—added for flavor and texture. Finally, the last category of processed foods includes items like packaged baking mixes or bottled sauces and ready-to-eat foods like crackers and frozen meals.
Just as all whole foods are not created equal, not all processed foods are created equal either—nutritionally speaking. Cut and bagged vegetables or greens can make vegetables a more accessible, although slightly more expensive, option. Just be sure to check the labels. Some cut and bagged vegetables have added sugar, salt, or fat to enhance flavor or texture, so steer clear of those if your desire is for the least-processed whole foods.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a report produced by the Departments of Agriculture and of Health and Human Services, explains the problem bluntly:
Americans currently consume too much sodium and too many calories from solid fats, added sugars, and refined grains. These replace nutrient-dense foods and beverages and make it difficult for people to achieve recommended nutrient intake while controlling calorie and sodium intake.
The more a food is processed and refined, the more likely it is to lose its naturally occurring fiber, minerals, vitamins, and so forth.
Health Benefits of Whole Foods
The health benefits of whole foods are vast. Because whole foods tend to have higher nutrient density, you can often eat more of them while taking in fewer calories overall, which in turn support maintaining a healthy ideal weight. Fresh fruits and vegetables usually contain fiber, so you are likely to feel fuller for longer, an added advantage.
Cooking and eating whole foods can also be important if you are on a restricted diet. When you prepare whole foods at home, you know exactly what is going into your food. If you put spinach, grapes, banana, berries, and ice in your blender for a smoothie, you will simply get a delicious drink, with no hidden ingredients, preservatives, or other such surprises.
By preparing foods at home, you can also control the amounts of salt and sugar added to your food. There may very well be a health benefit to the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly what you are putting into your body, but the scientists have not discovered this yet
We know that whole foods are important to good health, so the question becomes not why should we eat a more whole-foods-focused diet, but how? If flavor and convenience are important, we here at Vitamix have great news.
Why Blended Recipes?
There are lots of ways that you can incorporate whole foods into your diet, but it is quite a challenge to eat the volume of whole food and get the nutrition your body needs without a blender. Blenders allow you to use the whole food so you retain all the nutrients within the food. The sweet pineapple core is too fibrous to chew but can be blended up into a juice, smoothie, or sauce. You can puree a whole tomato—skin, seeds, and all—and make a soup or hearty tomato sauce. You can't chew up an orange seed or a flax seed very easily, but a blender can pulverize it almost instantly, where other blenders may struggle with these tougher ingredients. Using the whole food lets you consume all of the available nutrients, and preparing it quickly allows you to squeeze healthy eating into even the busiest day. We don't just talk the talk here at Vitamix. It is not uncommon to see one of our employees bring a bag of vegetables into the office and whip up a hot, steaming soup for lunch in a matter of minutes.
Breakfast and Brunch
Artichoke, Red Pepper, and Parmesan Frittata
The link between children who eat breakfast, particularly a healthy one with nutrients and fiber, and academic success is well established. Research aside, starting the day with a healthy meal, complete with whole foods, may just feel good to you as it does to me, as right and proper as a hot shower and a cup of coffee.
Drink Your Breakfast
When you think about making breakfast in your Blender, many of you will think first of making a smoothie or whole-fruit or whole-vegetable juice. This sort of drink can be quickly assembled and can use whatever produce you have in your fruit bowl, crisper, or freezer. You can even put portioned smoothie ingredients into bags for easy morning prep The potential combinations are nearly endless.
More Than Just Smoothies
Smoothies aren't the only healthy breakfast choice, of course. Multipurpose belnders can chop and ground dry ingredients can be chopped and ground, and whip, belnded or mix together wet ingredients. Wet ingredients get stirred into dry, and presto The batter gets poured into a loaf pan, a cake pan, or muffin tins and into the oven it goes. (You will also learn how to make your own flours for some of these recipes in a Vitamix dry grains container.) In almost no time at all, your kitchen will smell amazing, and your stomach will be rumbling
Consider making an extra batch of your favorite recipe, so you have a healthy breakfast or snack on hand even on your busiest days, especially when slathered with a homemade nut butter or fruit spread.
To freeze quick breads, cool the bread completely. Wrap the slices individually in foil and store in a freezer-safe bag or a container with a tight-fitting lid to prevent freezer burn. Slices can be thawed at room temperature. Leave a wrapped slice or two on the counter before you go to sleep, and they will be thawed and ready to eat by morning.
Homemade Granola and Hot Cereals
The cereal aisle in your local grocery store has an endless bounty of options, from the marshmallow-sprinkled to the flax-seed-ful. Our homemade granola is a delicious alternative to these processed options, and you can adjust the recipe to include the nuts, seeds, and dried fruits that you like best. Egg whites, honey, brown sugar, a little canola oil, cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt can be blended together in a blender and poured over a bowl of oats, nuts, and seeds. Toasty, crunchy clusters emerge from the oven, ready to be mixed with your favorite dried fruits. This granola is delicious on yogurt, with milk, or straight out of the jar for a healthy snack.
On the mornings you crave a hot, hearty, whole-grain cereal, try Apple Raisin Cracked Wheat Cereal, Oat Porridge, or Creamy Rice Cereal. Extras will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, so once again consider making enough for leftovers.
Pancakes, Waffles, and More
Try Curried Sweet Potato Pancakes, Breakfast Crepes, or Buttermilk Cornmeal Waffles, to name just a few. Oatmeal Pancakes will fill you up, and paired with our dried cranberry compote so delicious that you will find yourself making extra, just to have it on hand for oatmeal, yogurt, or maybe even a smoothie. Vegan French Toast will tempt breakfast lovers everywhere, even those who are not avoiding animal products. These delicious dishes come together quickly enough to be a weekday-morning staple and yet are tempting enough to be welcome at a leisurely brunch.
Pancakes and waffles also freeze well, and extras can be put aside for busier mornings. Cool the cooked items and store them in a freezer-safe bag. Frozen pancakes and waffles can be easily warmed up in a toaster or microwave.
Toast and Toppings
Few scents can match the heavenly aroma of baking bread, and if you like to start your mornings with a slice of toast, consider using your blender to make the dough for your own hearty, healthy whole wheat bread. This bread is delicious toasted or for sandwiches. Top it with homemade nut butter or Raisin Almond Breakfast Spread for a tasty and protein-packed treat.
Grind Your Own Flours for a Reliably Gluten-Free Morning
You can purchase the appropriate flours, or you can quickly grind your own in a Vitamix dry grains container, which was designed with specially angled and spaced blades that efficiently grind dry ingredients with excellent results time after time.
When you bought your blender, it likely came with one container—the standard Wet container (stamped "W" on the blades). Designed to pull ingredients into the blades and then circulate the ingredients around the blade and back up the sides of the container, this container is great for almost all purposes. Vitamix has a separate container for dry grains (stamped with a "D" on the blades). This container was created with blades specially designed to grind even small quantities of spices, grains, and other dry ingredients to a very fine texture. The blades are also ideal for kneading doughs, simulating the kneading process by bouncing ingredients off the blades instead of circulating them underneath and sending them back up the sides of the container. The dry grains container is also great for creating your own fresh flours regularly, and is a great tool to keep separate for grinding rice and other wheat-free grains into flours if you or someone in your house follows a gluten-free diet.
Nourishing Beets, Carrot-Apple Juice Blend, Spinach Sparkler
Perhaps because smoothies are quick to prepare and easy to drink in the flurry of our morning routine, lunch, or workout routine, Americans drink a lot of them.
Blended drinks encompass a much wider range of drinks than smoothies, of course. Blended tea and coffee drinks pop up more and more and in an expanding range of flavors. Juice, also a blended drink depending on how it is produced, has come to include a staggering range of ingredients, too. Americans can now buy or make a wide range of juices with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy ingredients. And nut milks? A quick internet search shows that lots of us are interested in drinking, and making, nondairy milks too.
Many health-minded Americans add kale to their smoothies - Basil Romaine Boost, Fresh Mint with Sprouts Beverage, Kale-Flax Smoothie with Pear, Going Green Smoothie, and Greens Juice Blend, to name just a few—give you new and creative ways to add fruits and leafy green vegetables to your diet.
Of course, whole vegetable juices and drinks aren't just about greens. Salsa in a Glass and Spicy Tomato Drink offer two ways to enjoy whole food tomato juice with much less sodium than many packaged varieties. Nourishing Beets pairs deeply purple and naturally sweet beets and apples with chile pepper, garlic, celery, and ginger for a delicious and slightly unconventional whole-vegetable drink. Spinach Sparkler combines greens, celery, cucumber, a whole lemon, a splash of pineapple juice, and sparkling water for a fresh, effervescent drink that would delight Popeye and Olive Oyl alike.
Many smoothies, even vegetable-based ones, benefit from fresh, dried, or frozen fruit to add a little sweetness. Banana Boost, Cherry Red Smoothie, Fig Smoothie with Goji Berries and Chia Seeds, Purple
Fruit Smoothie, and Tofu Tropic Smoothie will give you new and delicious ways to work more fruits into your breakfasts and afternoon snacks.
Whole Food Juicing
What is the difference between whole food smoothies and whole food juices? Smoothies have a silky smooth texture of varying thicknesses while juices tend to be thinner and may or may not retain some of the texture of the fruits and vegetables.
Whole food juices, like smoothies, contain all of the fiber and nutrients that you would get from eating the fruit or vegetable on its own. Whole food juices can be made quite thin, but because of the fiber, they will tend to have a thicker texture than a drink made with a juicer / juice extractor. If you want your drink to be more like the liquid produced by a juicer, you can strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve before you drink it.
You can make delicious juices with both fruits and vegetables. Recipes for Apple Juice, Berry Veggie Juice Blend, Cherry Anise Juice Blend, Greens Juice Blend, and Tart Citrus Juice Blend, among others, will show you how. You can also make your own Orange Juice and either drink it on its own or use it in a smoothie or as part of a juice blend.
If you want milk but are avoiding dairy, your options are increasing quickly these days. Milks made from hemp seeds, soy, rice, and a wide variety of nuts abound. However, packaged nondairy milks often contain thickeners, sweeteners, and additives. Thankfully these milks are easy to make at home with a few simple ingredients and the amazing Vitamix machine. Not only can you adjust the sweetness and the texture to your own preferences, but the fresh flavor is pretty unbeatable. Explore the do-it-yourself nondairy milk options with recipes such as Almond Milk, Sweet Almond Cinnamon Milk, and Soy Milk. Once made, these milks will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
A green smoothie may give you a boost, but few things can compete with the eye-opening powers of coffee or green tea. Heavily sweetened blended coffee and tea drinks are widely available, but they are easier, cheaper, and often healthier to make at home. Try a Mocha Cooler, a Tea of Green Smoothie, or an Espresso Banana Drink the next time you need a caffeine boost.
Techniques for the best smoothies, juices, and other blended drinks using a Vitamix blender
- Put the ingredients in the Vitamix container in the order that they are listed. In general, liquids go in first, then dry goods, leafy greens, fruits and veggies, and, last, any frozen ingredients. Why, you might ask? Because the heavier frozen ingredients help push everything into the blades.
- Start the machine slowly—this helps the blades "grab" the ingredients—but then quickly switch to a higher speed. Using the top speeds is actually easier on the motor, so increase the speed as directed.
- If needed, add a little more liquid or use the tamper to help the ingredients circulate fully and blend more completely.
- Blend for the full processing time suggested in the recipe at least the first time you make it." If you prefer to shorten the blend time in the future, your drink may not be quite as smooth, but it is all about preference.
You can use your blender to take simple ingredients and transform them into joyfully delicious desserts.
A blender can help you make delicious quick breads, and here we will show you the cakes and cookies that you can whip up just as easily. By mixing up the wet ingredients in the machine, you can use fruit in place of some or all of the refined sugar that you might need otherwise. In Batter Cake with Bing Cherries, you use pitted dates with a little agave nectar for sweetness. The dates give the cake a deep, satisfying flavor. In Carrot Cake, a combination of canned pineapple in its own juice and raisins are used in lieu of sugar. Banana Drops, a homey vegan cookie, get delicious fruit flavor and a moist, tender texture from bananas pureed with a little vanilla, oil, and oats.
You can also use the blender to pulse together delicious crisp toppings. In Apple-Ginger Crisp, cornflakes, whole wheat flour, crystallized ginger, and coconut oil are combined to create a crunchy vegan topping for apples. Top this quintessentially fall dessert with Apple Pie Ice Cream or Cashew Crema if you like. For Vegan
Fruit Crumble, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, almonds, unsweetened coconut, pitted dates, and coconut oil are pulsed with spices and baking powder to form a biscuit-like topping for peaches and blueberries. This crisp is wonderful on its own, yet heavenly when served with Peach Soy Sorbet.
Remember to follow the blending instructions carefully to ensure delightfully simple, yummy success every time. Keep in mind that the same machine that can make hot soup can quickly transform a creamy, scoopable treat into a cold smoothie in very little time
Avocado Tahini Dip
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Buy at the Store or DIY
To control the amount of added salt or fat in these foods, make them at home.
Homemade roasted red peppers
Homemade pita chips or crostini
TO MAKE PITA CHIPS OR CROSTINI: Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Slice 6 pitas into eighths or cut one whole-grain baguette crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil or coat with olive oil cooking spray. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon sea salt. (You can also add a pinch of chili powder or a teaspoon of your favorite minced fresh herb.) Spread the pita wedges or bread slices in an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp, turning occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Store the cooled chips in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
Great at a Party, Delicious in a Brown-Bag Lunch
These dips, spreads, and nibbles will all be so delicious that you will hope for leftovers. Bringing your own lunch to school or work can be healthier and cheaper than buying it, and many of these tasty dips are delicious additions to your brown-bag lunch. As a kid, your dad, John, may have felt a bit self-conscious about the healthy lunch his mother packed, but times have changed. You will feel glad to have your own nutritious meal on hand. Spread leftover Black Bean Hummus or Edamame Chickpea Dip on whole-grain bread and top with fresh veggies for a delicious sandwich. The bean spread would also be delicious in a quesadilla with a little shredded cheddar, spinach, and a spoonful of salsa. Pack a small container of leftover Avocado Tahini Dip or Hummus with cut veggies, pretzels, or pita bread for a tasty lunch or snack. If you have access to a microwave, treat yourself to a little Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip with crostini for dipping and perhaps a small salad on the side. Enjoy a lunch to rival the best takeout
Soups, Salads, and Sides
Soups, salads, and side dishes are a wonderful way to get more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are pureeing hot soups.
- When blending hot ingredients, start your Vitamix on a low speed.
- Be careful The very act of transferring hot soup to a blender can be tricky for some, and there is no harm in letting the soup cool for a few minutes before beginning to puree it
- Position the lid with the flaps on the container with the flaps midway between the spout and the handle. Push the lid onto the container until it locks in place. (Make sure the vented lid plug is secured.) The lid must always be secured, especially when processing hot liquids that may scald.
- Don't overfill the container. Hot liquids expand. It is usually safer to fill the canister a little over half full, so that the hot liquid doesn't overflow while you are blending it.
Salads and Sides
Fresh, crunchy salads, gluten-free rolls, hearty grain salads, and cooked vegetable sides & more Any of these would be a perfect accompaniment to a main dish, or you could build a whole meal out of one or two of these recipes.
You may enjoy a nice bowl of simply dressed leafy greens, but it may be easier to eat more veggies if you expand your salad repertoire with the recipes. There are lots of kale salads on restaurant menus these days, but we would challenge any of them to hold a candle to our nutrient-packed Kale Salad with Avocado Tahini Dressing. This salad is full of veggies and has a dressing that contains the healthy fats found in avocado and sesame seeds plus a handful of kale. Both Fiesta Salad and Lime-Dressed Ginger Carrot Slaw use whole fruits to bring flavor and nutrients to salads with lots of different crunchy vegetables. Pear and Apple Salad pairs greens and lightly poached fruit with a maple and flax seed oil vinaigrette and goat cheese encrusted with flax seeds and fresh thyme. This composed salad would make an elegant first course for your next dinner party or a lovely light lunch.
Salads can be made from more than just vegetables, of course; there are a number of grain- and seed-based salads. These hearty sides are perfect as part of a meal or as a substantial lunch or entrée.
You can make a soup for dinner. Just search for ideas for healthy entrées that you can make with the help of blender.
Before You Start Cooking
You don't have to be a professional cook to benefit from the habits of one. There are a number of simple steps that most cooks take when they get ready to work, and these habits can be invaluable to a home cook. By organizing yourself before you start cooking and taking regular inventory of your refrigerator and pantry, you will save both time and money.
Before chefs begin a task in the kitchen, they organize their mise en place. Mise en place, French for "put in place," simply means getting everything ready before you start cooking: vegetables cut, spices out and measured, all necessary equipment set up. You will notice any missing ingredients and have a calm moment to either make a substitution or dash to the store. Taking time to organize yourself before you start cooking is ultimately a more efficient way to cook and so you will save time in the long run, too.
In a restaurant kitchen, the principle of "first in, first out," or FIFO, helps reduce waste. Simply put, the food that is purchased first is used first. Avoiding food waste helps restaurants and other food businesses save money and time, and this is true for the home cook as well. Once a week, take a quick inventory of what you have on hand. Make a note of everything that needs to be used first. Then think what meals or dishes you can make to use up these foods.
Here is a tip: Having trouble remembering which leftovers were cooked when? Invest in a roll of masking tape and a marker. Label and date containers before you put them in the refrigerator or freezer. You will know exactly what you have and how long you have had it.
Some people are menu planners. Every week they write up a menu plan for the week and use this plan to write their grocery list. If this doesn't fit with your cooking style, you can still save yourself some time and avoid the temptation of takeout. Anytime you whip up a soup, or make a batch of salad dressing, nut milk, or pasta sauce, make some extra. You can store it in the fridge to be used over the next couple of days or, for some foods, you can freeze it for later. Prepare more pork or fish than you need for dinner, and reinvent the leftovers in a main-dish salad or a wrap.
Look through your crisper drawers and find the things that, as you like to say, "must go" You can also go ahead and make a big batch of your favorite smoothie to enjoy over the next few days, or whip up a tasty soup. You will use up all those good veggies and have a ready-to-go meal or snack too
It will be easier to drive past that drive-through window when you know you have a quick-to-prepare dinner waiting at home. In the long run, cooking more whole foods at home will help you eat better, consume less salt, and possibly save money as well.
Some entrées are the beginning of a great meal, but you may want a salad or a simple sautéed or steamed vegetable to complete the meal. Baked Tofu, Two Ways, Marinated Sweet and Sour Tempeh, and Roasted Salmon with Cilantro-Seed Pesto are just a few of the dishes you could use to anchor your meal.
Tere are the two different ways that your machine can chop food - dry-chopping and wet-chopping. You can always chop ingredients by hand, of course, but if you are short on time or are not confident in your knife skills, you will find these methods helpful.
- Dry-chopping. Dry-chop with the blenderwhen you need to coarsely chop, and even-size pieces are not important. For example, nuts that will be incorporated into a larger recipe do not need to be cut evenly. Place the ingredients in the container and run the machine on a low, variable speed. Or drop them through the lid plug opening while the Vitamix is running on low. Don't process the food too long The ingredients will go from big chunks to powder or puree faster than you might think. For instance, boiled eggs can be chopped on a very low speed while carrots are chopped at a higher speed. Also, cheese is much easier to chop in a blender if you freeze it first.
- Wet-chopping. This technique is used when the ingredients have a lot of moisture in them, e.g., cabbage for slaw. Add enough water to float the ingredients above the blades. The presence of the water will help pull the food down toward the blades, resulting in a more consistent chop. Pulse the Vitamix just a couple of times and chunks of produce will be shredded. Be careful not to pulse it too much or you will have cabbage soup instead of slaw. Drain the ingredients and proceed with the recipe as directed.
Dressings, Sauces, and Spreads
Plain vegetables are good. They are certainly healthy as they are, simple and pretty tasty. But a nutritious vinaigrette can really make a salad sing. And undressed pasta might be the perfect dish for many children, but a hearty tomato sauce makes it a more complete meal. The sauces and dressings, on the other hand, aren't really good to eat on their own. They need something to dress.
Making these sauces and dressings at home instead of buying them gives you the opportunity to know exactly what you are eating. You can avoid the additives and extra sodium often found in purchased products, and you might just save a little money in the process.
For Fresh Tomato Sauce, whole tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, spices, a little tomato paste, and brown sugar are combined in the Blender and simmered until the juices reduce a little and the flavors come together. This sauce will freeze beautifully once it has cooled. Spicy Tomato Cream Sauce combines low-fat milk or soy milk, a cooked sweet potato, fresh tomatoes, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and spices. Sauces containing low-fat dairy should not be frozen, because the dairy can separate when it is reheated. Instead, enjoy this sauce within four days of preparing it.
Not-So Cheese Sauce would dress up any vegetable and provides tons of cheesy flavor without any dairy. Parsley-Pecan Pesto, a delicious riff on the traditional Genovese pesto, would be welcome mixed with cooked grains, tossed with steamed vegetables, or as a spread on a sandwich. Cashew Crema, a decadent nondairy cream, will transform a bowl of sliced fresh fruit into a simple and delicious dessert.
When you have a homemade salad dressing in your refrigerator, getting a healthy salad on the table is a little easier. Three of the vinaigrettes - Fresh Apple and Pear Dressing, Tomato Vinaigrette, and Balsamic Orange Dressing—call for whole fruits along with more traditional ingredients like oil, lemon juice, or vinegar. These whole foods add nutrients as well as a fresh, vibrant flavor not often found in vinaigrettes.
Silky Miso Vinaigrette uses tofu along with spices, herbs, and other ingredients to create a creamy, bright salad dressing without any dairy.