Costco vs. Vitamix Online

Save $200 by buying direct from Vitamix.com.

Sometimes you can beat even Costco’s prices if you know where to look.

Costco’s least expensive option for a Vitamix blender is only offered in a bundle which includes the Dry Grains Container. The standard, less expensive, Vitamix bundle is not available from Costco. Also, Costco’s bundle is only available in limited colors. Vitamix’s online store offers the full range of color options.

Details below.

Vitamix with 64oz Container + Dry Grains Container

$499.99 / $559.11*
Costco.com

* 559.11 for non-members.
Costco membership is $55.

Vitamix 5200Vitamix with 64oz Container
Certified Reconditioned

$299.00
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Homemade V8

Make your own organic, sodium free vegetable juice at home. Three good reasons:

  1. You know exactly what you’re putting into it. You are in control of everything – the ratios, the source of your food, the amount of washing, etc.
  2. No sodium (except for the naturally occurring sodium contained in your carrots)
  3. No additives

Grocery List

This is what I buy. Feel free to substitute or skip ingredients. One of the best things about doing this is there is no ‘wrong’ way. If you used only one or two of the items on this list, you’ll benefit greatly.

My general goal is to streamline the procedure as much as possible; the less time it takes to make it, the more frequently I’ll be able to do it. I make about a quart at a time and store the extra in the fridge so my family & I can drink it throughout the day.

If you forget your shopping list, simply grab a can of V8 at the store & use the printed ingredients as your list.

Homemade V8 Shopping List

Campbells V8 Ingredients

 

Homemade Version

Get organic if you can

Variations

Tomatoes* Tomatoes Cucumber (My husband prefers this instead of tomato; less acidic)
Carrots* Carrots, with greens if available
Celery* Celery
Beets* Beets, with greens
Parsley* Fresh Curly Parsley
Lettuce* LettucePrewashed, organic
Watercress* Watercress (if you can find it) Wheat grass
Spinach* Spinach (prewashed, organic)
Citric Acid (flavoring & neutralizing agent) Lemon
Ascorbic Acid (maintains color and flavor)
Natural Flavoring†
* Reconstituted
† Natural flavoring may include onion or garlic derivatives, as well as flavor derived from fruits, vegetables and their juices, or edible parts of plants. Other sources may include meat, seafood, poultry or dairy products, whose significant function in the food is flavoring rather than nutrition.

Materials You’ll Need

  • A cutting board and a knife. Sounds obvious, but sometimes I get lazy and cut my vegetables over the open container. It’s dangerous and the lip of my blender container is dinged up from all the downward knife slips that bounced off the rim…hopefully you will choose to do it on a cutting board.
  • Blender powerful enough to break down leaves, beets and fibrous vegetables.
  • Storage Container for refrigerating the extra juice. I use a repurposed Prego spaghetti sauce jar. It’s good to get into the habit of emptying and rinsing out your blender container as soon as you’re done with – they are tougher to clean if you let the contents dry out on the inner walls…

Make it!

Washing. Aside from the fact that there is sometimes naturally occurring soil on your organic produce, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of washing everything thoroughly before you juice it; this stuff isn’t getting cooked.

  • Cut off the beet greens of 1 beet and set them aside for washing
  • Cut off carrot greens (if you have them) of two carrots and set them aside for washing. Gather up the other greens (lettuce, spinach, parsley, watercress)  you have.
  • Wash your greens thoroughly with cold water and set them aside.
  • Wash your beet root and trim off whatever parts of the beet you don’t want to blend. (I blend everything.)
  • Wash your carrots and tomato / cucumber

You only need to cut the larger vegetables to a size that they can fall below the level of the blades. For example, if you were to drop a whole apple in the blender bin and turn it on, it would probably just sit on top of the blade axle while the blades spun uselessly below.

  • Quarter your tomato (or chop your cucumber into big chunks) and throw it in the bin first. You want your softer, juicier ingredients towards the bottom so the blades can get up to speed faster.
  • Halve your lemon.
  • Place your leafy greens in the bin
  • Cut your beet and carrot into large chunks and put them in last.
  • Pour in 1 cup of water. We use filtered tap water.
  • Squeeze in the juice from 1/2 of the lemon. Be careful to catch the seeds as they get squeezed out and set them aside; they will add a bit of bitter flavor if you blend them.
  • Start the blender on a slow cycle to get it started. Gradually increase the speed of the blades as the mix starts to get broken up.
  • Once you get up to full speed, run it for a full minute to get the tougher root vegetables broken down into drinkable particles.
  • If you want – de-bubble your smoothie before pouring your drink. I wrote a short post describing how to do it.

Enjoy! 

I tweak the flavor and  thickness of my smoothies a bit more in each glass as needed with additional drops of lemon juice or by adding water to thin the juice.

How to Get the Air Bubbles Out of Your Green Smoothie

Using a powerful blender allows you the benefit of penetrating the cellular walls of the plants so that your body can access all the nutrients available. The only downside (to me; as some people, like my husband, enjoy the froth) to this mighty churning is the air that inevitably gets pulled into the mix during the process.

The Vitamix motor, blades and bin are designed to create a powerful vortex that sucks everything in the bin down into the center towards the blades where it gets atomized into tiny particles. And when I say “everything” in the bin, I’m including the air. Air gets sucked into the vortex and is broken up into tiny air bubbles by the blades, which are then evenly distributed as tiny air pockets throughout the mix; so small they aren’t bouyant enough to rise back up through the thick material.

I’m not a big fan of foamy, frothy, fluffy green smoothies. They’re difficult to drink without making a giant mustache & full of tiny air bubbles that I’d rather not consume.

Here’s a trick to getting at least some of the air bubbles out:

  1. Once you’re done blending your smoothie, stop the blades as you normally would. This will allow the biggest pockets of air to get out from under the turning blades and escape. But don’t pour it out just yet.
  2. Turn the blades back on at a low speed; just fast enough to create a gentle whirlpool; You don’t want the whirlpool to be big enough that it pulls more air down into the center.
    The gentle whirlpool will pull a lot of the smaller air bubbles to the center of the vortex where they will merge with one another, get bigger & more buoyant, and escape to the top.
  3. Turn the blades off to allow your newly formed ‘bigger bubbles’ to escape the vortex and rise to the surface.

Cycle through that a couple times and you will greatly reduce the amount of air you consume with your smoothies. Also, the more water you add to your mix, the easier it will be for the smaller air bubbles to rise to the surface.

We have the large 64 oz container so I generally make enough to store in the fridge for the family. The stored smoothie is always fine after it sits in the fridge for a few hours and the bubbles have had a chance to rise.

I like to make & store my smoothies thick, then mix it with half-water each time in the glass I drink from. A quick stir with a fork usually does the trick to get it to exactly the way I like it.

Lose Weight While Eating Healthy

Example of a typical lunch or dinner
Typical lunch or dinner. Pictured: Grilled tuna (protein), black beans (carb), steamed broccoli & grilled asparagus (vegetables).

Slow Carb Diet.

Lean protein, vegetables and beans. Six days a week. On the seventh day, you eat the junk you’ve been craving.

I like this diet because:

  • It’s a healthy, balanced diet consisting of whole foods.
  • It doesn’t require that you buy any “products”.
  • It doesn’t add cost to your monthly food budget, and could in fact reduce it.

The Plan

Sunday – Friday: Eat only Beans, lean protien, and low-sugar vegetables (every meal). Eat as much as you want as often as you want. Drink anything you want, as long as it doesn’t contain sugar / sweeteners.

Saturday: Pig out! Eat & drink anything you want. Pizza, BBQ, beer, soda, chocolate, etc. Doesn’t have to be Saturday, as long as you pick the same day every week.

“Pig-out day” is very important. Your body is hardwired for survival so it closely monitors calorie intake and adjusts metabolism accordingly. You need to let your body know that it doesn’t have to reduce it’s metabolism due to a scarcity of calories by showing it some carbs once a week. Doing so will keep the metabolism high so you can continue to enjoy that 6 or so pound-a-week fat burn. Also, it gives you something fun to look forward to as a reward for all the discipline you showed the previous six days.

Ingredients for each meal

Beans: Red, black, pinto, lentils, chickpeas, etc. This is where your carbs will come from. Use canned beans for convenience (no sugary baked beans), use dry beans to save money. You will eat these to power you through your day *instead* of bread, pasta, french fries, etc.
Lean Protien: Turkey, fish, chicken breasts, steaks, egg whites, etc. Nothing fried, breaded or processed. If you’re a vegetarion, simply substitute whatever you’ve been using for a protein source as long as it isn’t breaded or fried.
Vegetables: Low-sugar vegetables. Leafy greens, asparagus, peas, broccoli, etc. No potatoes. No breaded or fried anything.

Condiments: I used lots of lemon and lime juice, hot sauce, salsa and salt & pepper. Anything you want that doesn’t contain sugar / sweetener (EG: Ketchup, BBQ sauce). I also cook onions, garlic, carrots and celery with my beans to keep the flavor scale above bland-o.

Example Meals

Breakfast: Egg whites, black beans and fire-roasted tomato salsa (I like Arriba and Jardine’s brands of salsa.).
Lunch and Dinner: Grilled asparagus, steamed broccoli, grilled tuna and black beans.

At the beginning of this diet you’ll be hungry all the time due to the rapid fat burn, so make sure you prepare enough food that you can eat as often as you want.

If you’re eating tuna, thaw an entire package of tuna filets and grill all of them at the same time. Strip steaks, same thing – buy more than one meal’s worth and grill them in bulk, then store whatever you don’t eat in the fridge so you can just grab it.

Same with the beans and vegetables. Steam a whole head of broccoli, prepare an entire bag of beans; or just buy canned beans. Not baked beans. 😉 .

I got the idea for this weight loss diet from Tim Ferris here and he does a more thorough job of explaining it. Plus there are currently thousands of comments below the article containing additional helpful info. I’m simply summarizing my version of it after having done successfully it myself a few times over the past two years.

Give it a try!

Here’s a anecdotal story from my personal experience to illustrate how powerful this diet is. My wife and I were going to Hawaii with her family and I didn’t want high noon photos of me to be all cellulos-ey, so I started doing this diet plus working out regularly a month before we left. My goal was to be as lean and ripped as possible by the time we hit the beach.

By the time we went to Hawaii I was pretty happy with my “beach body”. Food was included in our vacation package (cruise) so I of course gained weight that week but didn’t care, I ate everything and loved it. When we returned from vacation it was easy for me to fall back into the diet routine I had established, minus the exercise (yes, I got lazy). However, due to the diet I still continued to lose fat.

I should mention that I don’t care about how much I *weigh*. I monitor comfort; Do my pants cut into the front of my torso when I sit down? No? Great. So I don’t often weigh myself. It wasn’t until my wife & friends started saying I was too skinny that I stepped onto the scale. I had dropped from pre-vacation 175 to 143 over the span of around three months.

That number scared me, I hadn’t realized how ‘light’ I had gotten. So I stopped. I’m back up to around 160 now.

I’m only sharing this story to emphasize the power of this diet. If you have discipline and follow it, you will burn fat pretty quickly. Once you’ve done it for a couple of weeks it becomes “normal” and you go on autopilot. Just don’t go overboard.

Homemade Baby Food: Sweet Potato

Ingredients

1 sweet potato
1/2 cup formula, breast milk or water

Directions

Preheat the oven to 410 degrees Farenheit.

Wash the sweet potato well under warm water. Poke it with a fork three or four times along the length of it, then run warm water over it again. The water that gets into the fork holes will help steam it from within.

Wrap it in tinfoil and place it on the lower rack of the oven to slow bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven. If you are using a normal blender, scoop the potato with a tablespoon out of the skin and place it in your blender.

If you are using a ‘super blender’ like a Vitamix or a Blendtec you can simply quarter it and put the whole potato, skin and all, into the blender.

Add 1/2 cup formula, breast milk or water and blend until smooth.

Serve warm. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 or 3 days.

Homemade Baby Food: Rice Cereal

Congratulations on meeting this big milestone; your baby is ready to start trying some food! Since you’re reading this recipe you probably already know that the big brand, pre-made, store bought equivalent is an expensive, preservative packed inferior alternative (but we included the ingredients at the bottom just to make you feel good about your decision to make it from scratch).

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Short grained brown, basmati or jasmine rice.
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1/2 cup formula, breast milk or water

Directions:

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in saucepan
Add rice. simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir once at about the 10 minute mark.

Once the rice is cooked, add the 1/2 cup of forumula or breast milk and puree in your blender.

Serve warm

Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.

These are the infant rice cereal ingredients from a leading baby food brand:

RICE FLOUR, TRI- AND DICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SOYBEAN OIL, SOY LECITHIN, MIXED TOCOPHEROLS (TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS), ELECTROLYTIC IRON, ZINC SULFATE, ALPHA TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VITAMIN E) NIACINAMIDE (A B VITAMIN), PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMIN MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), FOLIC ACID (A B VITAMIN), VITAMIN B12 (CYANOCOBALAMIN)

Make your own paradise

A few years ago, while my wife and I were on vacation in Hawaii, we happened upon a beautiful little produce stand that sold smoothies made with organic fruit grown on-site (Laulima Farms in Hana, Maui). We spent some time hanging out there, talking to the people who worked on the farm and to the locals who stopped by.

I really fell in love with the place. I was enamored with the fact that they grew their own food, and that it was organic; that they made it fresh to-order for anyone who stopped by; in a blender powered by a bicycle! And on and on.

Over the years I’ve thought about that place and how fortunate those people were to be a part of it. Eventually I decided that instead of being envious of how good they had it, I would do whatever I could to make my home my own personal paradise.

I realized that back on that island farm, the fruit didn’t magically appear. The bamboo produce stand with hand-painted signs didn’t either. Ditto for the bike-powered blender. Those things took time and effort to plan, grow, build and refine.

So we started building our own paradise with small luxuries; a small bed for herbs in our back yard. A potted basil plant in the kitchen. Having fresh herbs literally footsteps away from your food prep area is great! It makes me smile every time I snip a handful of herbs for a meal or gently touch the leaves just to release their fresh fragrance.

Every year we improve upon our paradise plan, or attempt to and learn from our setbacks. The fruits of our labor are here to greet us every day. It’s nice to think about it that way instead of always wishing I were a long flight and a hemisphere away from my every day life.

Tomato Soup Recipe

Ingredients

6 medium tomatos (you can use canned as well). Note: I’m skipping the step of de-skinning the tomatoes because the I’m eventually going add them to our blender which will make skins and seeds smooth.
extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper
2 stalks of celery, chopped. Note: I’m only rough chopping everything because . Since these ingredients will end up being made smooth, I’m saving time on the cutting board by not dicing/mincing.
2 or 3 carrots, chopped.
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, skinned and chopped
1.5 cups of chicken broth or bullion. My wife made some chicken curry soup with root vegetables the day before I executed this recipe, so I was lucky to have “real” broth.
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half (optional; we had some in the fridge so I threw it in)

Nice to have

Sourdough bread. With crispy, crunchy crust. I want some right now.

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Quarter the tomatoes and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Place them in the oven to roast for 15 to 20 minutes.

In the meantime, heat up some olive oil in a saucepan and throw in the chopped celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.

Add the roasted tomatoes, chicken broth and butter. Simmer for another 20 minutes.

Spoon the ingredients from your saucepan into a food processor container. You will have to do it in two rounds because there won’t be enough room in your bin for everything at once. Fill the food processor container to about halfway full and run it on high until the soup looks smooth.

Pour the pureed batch into a saucepan and add the remaining chunky ingredients to the blender bin. Add the handful of fresh basil leaves and creme to the bin and puree it all together.

Vegetables on deck for chopping
We like to keep potted basil on the windowsill so it's always handy.
Quartered tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil are ready for the oven.
Softening up the vegetables while the tomatoes roast in the oven.
Added roasted tomatoes from the oven to the saucepan to simmer.
This is what it looks like after everything has been pureed together in the Vitamix blender. Ready for a sprinkle of ground pepper and a slice of sourdough bread!

Watermelon Juice


We have a small family, so the general life cycle of a harvested watermelon from that garden has been: We eat half of it on the same day it is picked, store the rest in the fridge & it occupies valuable casserole-sized space for an eternity.

Also, every time I eat one I think: If only I could skip the seed picking and just drink the juice. Love the juice!

The combination of lack of storage space, hatred of waste and love of the idea of drinking watermelon juice gave me the motivation I needed to try an experiment.

We had recently received our new Vitamix blender. I decided to see if it was capable of crushing up all the watermelon seeds to a point that they were ‘drinkable’. It did.

The seeds gave the juice a slight bitter taste, but the overall taste was great. Our four year old also enjoyed it enough to ask for a second glass.

Watermelon Seeds

Before making it, I did some quick research to make sure that the seeds weren’t harmful and was happy to find that they are in fact nutritive. Watermelon seeds contain Zinc, an anti-oxidant which may protect against accelerated aging, and are high in protien (~30%). According to the USDA, there are 28.3 g of protein in 100 g of dried watermelon seeds. That’s amounts to around 1 cup of kernels (dried).

In some African and Asian cultures they are consumed as a snack.

How to make watermelon juice

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 small Watermelon. Makes about 30 ounces, almost 4 servings.
  • Knife
  • Blender
  • Cheesecloth (to strain out the seeds if you don’t have a “superblender” like a Vitamix that can pulverize them)

Of course you could also grow or buy the seedless variety of watermelon.

Instructions

  • Halve a small watermelon and drop chunks of it, minus the rind, into the bin.
  • Put the lid on (duh).
  • Start the blender in Variable mode, low speed.
  • Slowly turn the speed dial up to max (10).
  • Flip the switch from Variable to High.
  • Let it run for a 1 minute, 30 seconds to give it time to atomize the seeds.
  • Pour over ice, or blend ice in with it.

Enjoy!

Night Running

The days are getting shorter, so my evening runs are getting darker each time. We live in the country, there are no street lights along my running route. In this area, one must rely on retina-rods and moonlight.

Last night as I was running along the side of the empty road, I heard voices ahead of me. My eyes focused on a gray blob about twenty yards ahead. I continued to  jog towards it, expecting people to eventually materialize.

A smaller shape broke off from the main blob and sped towards me. Some kind of animal. A big dog. It ran directly at me, jumped up, and went for my face. I used my forearm to block it. I staggered sideways into the ditch by the side of the road, tripped and landed in the grass. Big dog licked my neck.

I was was disoriented. It was all darkness, fur and licks. Now people were yelling close to me. The owners. They pulled the dog off; a big, friendly Golden Retriever. I got up, we exchanged “Sorry” and “I’m Oks” and “hahahas” and continued on our paths in opposite directions.

The moral of the story is this: If you have a plan, as I have since I was 7 years old, for what you will do when you get attacked by a dog; it probably won’t work.