As the days start getting warmer, are you considering a health kick? Perhaps you're thinking of jumping on the smoothie bandwagon as a way of packing more fruits and vegies into your diet.
A personal blender is an easy, convenient way to blitz up a single-serve smoothie while cutting down on the washing up. NutriBullet and Ninja are the two best-known brands on the market, costing $160 and $130 respectively, or even more – but are they worth the money? How does a cheap and cheerful $59 personal blender from Kmart stack up?
We asked CHOICE kitchen expert Fiona Mair for her advice on what to look for when buying a personal blender, and for CHOICE members, we'll reveal her pick of the personal blender brands.
How we test personal blenders
"Smoothie ingredients can include frozen fruits and vegetables, hard and soft fruits and vegetables, leafy greens such as spinach and kale and ice cubes," says Fiona.
"A personal blender needs to be able to blend these types of foods, resulting in a smooth texture."
To put each personal blender through its paces, we test to see if the blender can manage several things:
- Blending a soft frozen smoothie
- Crushing ice
- Blending a green smoothie
- Blending kale in water.
"The kale in water is a harsh test, but we want to see how finely the blender can process the kale," says Fiona.
"After blending, the kale is poured through a fine sieve and we weigh the amount that doesn't pass through to see how well the blender has processed it.
"If a personal blender can process kale, then it's one of the better ones."
What to look for when buying a personal blender
- Running a personal blender for too long can cause the blender to overheat, which can damage it. Look for blenders with a pre-programmed setting that will turn the blender off after one minute.
- If you're a solo smoothie drinker, then one blender cup will be more than enough. But if you're blending for a few people, look for a blender that comes with multiple cups or jugs.
- When using a standard blender, you can easily add to it during processing through the cap or lid. But personal blenders with the inverted cup generally have screw-on lids. This means you'll need to take them apart to add extra ingredients, which can get messy.
- Consider how you'll clean the blender: is the cup so narrow that you'll need a bottle brush to clean it? Are the parts dishwasher safe? How easy is it to take apart and put back together?
- If you're planning to drink your smoothie on the go, make sure the blender cup is leak-proof and will fit in your car's cupholder, or is easy to fit in your bag when you're done.
- Think about how else you might use your personal blender. They're great for whipping up small quantities of things such as dips, salad dressings, sauces and cocktails.
- Remember that blending causes friction, which can cause the ingredients you're blending to warm slightly. To prevent this, add either frozen fruit or ice cubes to the mix.
- For more advice on choosing a blender, read our guide to how to buy the best blender.
How does the Kmart personal blender compare with the Ninja and NutriBullet?
For simplicity's sake, we'll compare similar personal blenders: the Kmart Anko Nutritional Pro Blender ($59), the Ninja Nutri Ninja Pro ($130), and the NutriBullet Pro 1200 ($169).
Warranties and customer service
Is the cheap Kmart blender a good option, or are you better off spending more for an established brand? Both the Ninja and NutriBullet come with a 12-month warranty and dedicated customer service, plus you can buy accessories and replacement parts for them, which Kmart doesn't offer. But do those factors justify the higher price tag?
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