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I first jumped into the world of blending when my aunt gave me a Ninja blender as a housewarming gift. I had been making many foods from scratch for years and never thought of using my blender to help me along in that never-ending process of chopping and dicing and mixing by hand. I looked at my blender and all I could picture were smoothies and margaritas. That tells you a little bit about my upbringing doesn’t it?

In my home, the family blender lived on the bar top and my mother struggled to chop and mix everything we ate by hand. I am not quite sure why this was, if I am completely honest with you. I was just as shocked by the fact that my mother didn’t use her blender to its full abilities as I was to find out exactly what those abilities were.

You may have read elsewhere on this website about the many different possible uses of a blender. In particular, a countertop blender is capable of much more than most people realize. The long list of foods you can create using a blender includes (but is in no way limited to) the following: smoothies, margaritas, soups, salad dressings, sauces, dips, yogurt, muffins, and ice cream. I would be here all day if I were to list every possible use, so we will just stick with those for now.

The purpose of this particular article is to provide you with a few basic recipes to get you started in the world of blending and to help you broaden your blending horizons to include foods you may not be used to making in a blender. For this reason, I will include different types of recipes, instead of focusing on one type of food. Of course, this is not a recipe website, per se, so I will only be including a few to get you started. I urge you to look up more recipes online and in cookbooks, and to experiment with ingredients in your own kitchen.

You may notice that I haven’t told you which speed or pulse setting to use for these recipes, because each blender is slightly different. You will want to experiment with your blender’s settings to see what works best for you.

Raspberry and Orange Cream Dream Smoothie

10 ounces orange Greek yogurt
1 cup fresh raspberries
½ cup ice
½ cup orange juice

Wow, do I ever love this smoothie. It tastes like a mixture of a raspberry creamsicle and an orange creamsicle. In fact, it tastes like a lazy summer afternoon when I was about eight-years-old. I used Greek yogurt in this recipe, as well as most other blender recipes, because I prefer the thick texture of Greek yogurt. If you do not have Greek yogurt you can feel free to substitute it with another type of yogurt. You can also substitute the raspberries for any other type of berries, or even sliced peaches, to mix up the flavor.

Sundried Basil Pesto

1/2 cup basil leaves
4 large garlic cloves
1/3 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

I love to use this as a pasta sauce, a meat rub, or a garlic bread garnish. Something about pesto has always made me smile. I really wish that I could put my finger on it so that I could explain to you, but I cannot. Perhaps, subconsciously, I smile so that someone will see that rogue piece of basil stuck in my teeth and have a giggle of their own.

For this recipe, I suggest using fresh ingredients because it tends to offer a more authentic flavor. However, I have been known to use dried, store-bought ingredients in a pinch as well, and I can say that it still tastes fabulous.

I suggest using extra-virgin olive oil for a smooth flavor. Personally, I find other olive oils to be a little overpowering. If you prefer a stronger olive oil feel, free to change the recipe to suit your taste.

Banana Chip Muffins

2 cups large flake oats
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
3 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix the ingredients in your blender then transfer to a lightly greased muffin tin. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 15 minutes.

Feel free to substitute the chocolate chips with nuts or dried berries to change the flavor or reduce your refined sugar intake. Sometimes, I will substitute all or half of the chocolate chips with peanut butter or caramel chips for an even sweeter taste.

Salsa

23 ounces diced tomatoes
4 ounces green chilies
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 white onion
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1 pinch sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

There is nothing like a tangy salsa on a warm summer evening. At least, for me there is nothing like it; something about the salt in a tortilla chip meeting with the juicy, tangy flavor of the salsa makes my mouth water. In fact, it’s beginning to water a little right now just thinking about it.

You can use store-bought diced tomatoes in a can or you can use you blender to pre-dice some tomatoes before beginning to work in the rest of the recipe.

Hummus

15 ounces chickpeas
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 clove garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2-3 tablespoons water

Feel free to skin the chickpeas before adding them to the blender if you are not a fan of the gritty texture the skin leaves behind. I don’t really mind the texture so I just throw them in straight from the can.

Blend lemon, tahini, garlic, oil and herbs/spices first, then add the chick peas and blend again. Add water as necessary until you achieve your desired consistency.

Oh finally, my favorite. I love hummus. Let me tell you something, I put hummus on everything. Okay, maybe not everything, but a lot of things. I love to eat hummus with pita bread, crackers, tortillas, carrots, hamburgers, and inside a veggie wrap.

Banana Chocolate Protein Shake

1 scoop chocolate-flavored protein powder
8 ounces almond milk
1/2 cup frozen bananas
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

If you do not have chocolate protein powder, I would suggest vanilla to maintain the same type of flavor, but feel free to experiment with other flavors as well. Also, feel free to use any type of milk. Soy milk or even regular cow’s milk are acceptable substitutions.

Barbecue Bacon Dip

3 slices crispy bacon (well-cooked)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

If I thought my mouth was watering thinking about salsa and chips I was mistaken, because now it’s really watering. This dip is incredible. I eat it with homemade potato chips, tortillas, and baked pitas; sometimes I smear it on top of cheeseburgers. If you intend to use this as a dip, it is wonderful when garnished with fresh green onions or chives.

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