Chill with the Smoothest of Smoothies

Most people love a tasty smoothie, and it just so happens that – depending upon the ingredients you use – they can be among the healthiest of sweet treats. Smoothies can be made from little more than fruit and yogurt, but on a hot summer’s afternoon there really is nothing better to aid in that everlasting quest to escape the heat. Given the simplicity at work here, we were surprised to find that the best smoothie maker reviews available up until now all seem to focus on a surprising number of irrelevant and oddly contrasting factors. For all that people enjoy smoothies almost universally, there is an awful amount of contentious information out there!

We combed through some of the more high-profile smoothie makers and associated reviews out there, and came up with a short list of what we feel are some of the best products available for various circumstances. Below, you’ll find three smoothie makers profiled in such a way as to highlight the important factors, like ease of use… flexibility… and how easy the machines are to clean up after. These are the points on which you ought to be focused when choosing your next smoothie maker. So… without any more ado, let’s get on with the list!

Nutri Ninja Pro Blender

Alright… so, at first, we were a little put off by the brand name here. Some of the folks in the office seem to be of the opinion that “ninja” is a little overplayed in modern pop culture. After trying this baby out, though, we can’t deny its well-deserved place on this list. It is at once effective, and profoundly simple: the pro blender from Nutri Ninja is well deserving of the five-star review given to it by many smoothie maker reviewers (affiliates and buyers alike). Its stainless steel blades and nine hundred watt motor power through fruits and vegetables in seconds flat, breaking them down into tasty and nutritious juices. Its serving jars hold twenty-four ounces at a time, and their caps are designed for the convenience of sipping and pouring – making spills less common. From Nutri Ninja, the pro blender is small, it’s simple, and it packs a real punch.

Magic Bullet Nutri Bullet

From Magic Bullet, the second item on our list is the Nutri Bullet. This baby produces large drinks all at once, and has the capacity to crush ice with its powerful motor. Along with the smoothie maker itself, reviews have raved about the dozens of different smoothie recipes that come included in its one hundred and thirty-six page recipe book. The base is easy to wipe clean with a damp dish cloth or paper towel; the other components, including comfort lip rings and cups of multiple sizes, need to be hand washed. That being said, their material makes them fairly easy to scrub and rinse clean, preparing them to hold more nutritious and delicious smoothies.

Ninja Professional Blender 1000

Alright… so ninjas are apparently still “in.” Regardless of whether or not the name is overplayed (by the second brand we’ve reviewed which uses it… seriously, they just trademarked the word ‘Ninja,’ they didn’t even try!) it can’t be denied that the Blender 1000 is a marvel of the modern smoothie world. We’re not kidding when we say that no kitchen should be without one of these. Ours has been running almost continuously since we picked it up (or so it seems, while trying to write a review with that beauty going in the background). The blender jar holds seventy-two ounces of material, allowing it to produce several smoothies’ worth in one go. Its powerful one thousand watt motor enables it to tackle tough fruits, vegetables, and ice cubes with ease; it can even turn frozen fruits and berries into a delicious and healthy drink in seconds. Ice crushing, blending, pureeing and controlled processing, or so the literature reads… and the best smoothie maker reviews online appear to be absolutely right in saying that this puppy does it all!

Never Waffle on the Best Belgian Waffles!

Belgian waffles are everybody’s favorite breakfast item – and if not, they should be. They’re surprisingly easy to prepare, the mess associated with cleaning up after them is often deeply overstated, they’re delicious, and – for something that is generally regarded as a real treat – they’re surprisingly nutritious. Okay… so it’s more like “they’re not terribly bad for you.” The same can’t be said for a lot of the foods that we put into the “occasional treat” category!

Here are some of the best Belgian waffle makers available today. As of this writing, these represent some of the most popular, highly rated, and affordable waffle makers out there. You can find most of these brands quite commonly available at outlets such as Kohl’s, Sears, and even Wal-Mart, as well as through online purveyors such as Amazon.com.

Oster CKSTWFBF21 Thick Belgian Flip Waffle Maker

Waffle makers just don’t come more convenient than this model from Oster! With a simple flip, this (literally) handy waffle maker ensures smoothly and evenly cooked waffles, each and every time. It’s made of stainless steel for the easiest possible cleaning and washing… once you’ve had your fill of tasty, tasty Belgian-style waffles. With its built-in adjustable temperature control, you can ensure light and fluffy or hard and crisp waffles – however you prefer them to be made. This belgian waffle maker includes a removable drip tray (making cleaning even less of a hassle) and is easily stored vertically – taking up less space on your kitchen counter, or in your cabinet. If you’re making waffles for two, this is the best Belgian waffle maker for you!

Hamilton Beach 26020 Belgian Style Waffle Baker

A handheld Belgian waffle maker is fine, if you’re cooking for two. If you’re cooking breakfast for four, you’ll want a little bit more… in which case this is definitely the best Belgian-style waffle maker that you could ever hope for. That’s not to say that there aren’t others with their own marvelous qualities, but there isn’t anywhere in particular that this delight falls down on the job. The Hamilton Beach model 26020 produces thick, fluffy waffles, four at a time, and features a simple and convenient LED indicator telling you whether or not it’s powered and when to add batter. This is the Foreman’s Grill of Belgian waffle makers: simple, versatile, quick, efficient, and – on top of everything else – its non-stick nooks and crannies are even easy to clean. Feed a family of four their breakfast in minutes flat, no matter how hungry they might be; this sturdy and durable waffle maker can even handle the occasional unexpected company at breakfast. When you’re done, it stores in compact upright fashion.

All-Clad 99012GT Stainless Steel Classic Round Waffle Maker

The 99012GT from All-Clad is perhaps the best classic round waffle maker for singles and young couples. It makes one large, generously portioned waffle at a time, with audio and LED indicators informing you as to when the waffle maker is properly warmed… and when your waffle is ready, which is a marvelous and surprisingly uncommon feature for those of us who are prone to distraction in the kitchen! Also, unlike some other waffle-makers, this model comes with six adjustable settings for your desired finished level of waffle “shade,” meaning that you aren’t restricted to a single “thick and fluffy” pre-installed setting. Basically, it combines the essential features of any individual waffle maker with some of the useful functions of a toaster oven, and the end result? Pure deliciousness, each and every time. Add a little syrup, some butter and sugar, or whatever crazy stuff you like to put on waffles – we’ve got a friend who sprinkles shredded coconut on hers. It’s all good! Like every entry on our list, the 99012GT from All-Clad is easy to clean, and it stores conveniently in an upright and latched position. This is possibly the best Belgian waffle maker out there for a single individual, particularly someone who doesn’t like having disruptions in their daily routine.

Dazzle your Friends with Sparkling, Sumptuous Rice

Everyone loves rice. There’s always that stubborn holdout who will turn up their nose at the mention of it, but it’s a virtual guarantee that they too have their own particular favorite. It’s small wonder: prepared properly, rice is light, fluffy, and sumptuous. It has a certain degree of class and sophistication. It’s mildly, yet pleasantly flavored, but at the same time it complements virtually any other dish, flavoring, or overall meal. It’s easy to see how, for the majority of the world, rice is one of the major staple foods – if not consumed on a daily basis, often for two or more meals. To enjoy rice to its fullest, of course, you want to prepare it in a proper rice cooker – and some of the best Asian-style rice cookers available today are part of the Zojirushi product family.

So, what is the best Zojirushi rice cooker available? It’s honestly hard to choose a specific number one, as each of them offers so many user-friendly and convenient features. Additionally, most products are ideally suited to particular situations… such as busy families, bachelors, or young couples just getting started. Below, you’ll find a list of some of our favorite Zojirushi rice cookers. Read over their features, and judge for yourself as to which one will be the best for you!

Zojirushi Rice Cooker NS-TSC10

This particular rice cooker from Zojirushi, long one of the most trusted names in Japanese kitchen appliances, is itself one of our ongoing favorites. The reason is simple: it has a clearly legible LED display for easy reading. It has an abundance of settings, enabling it to convenient handle a wide variety of types of rice and styles of cooking. Unlike many rice cookers, which are optimized for a single type of rice, this one-liter model cooks short- and long-grain white rice well – as well as doing a truly fantastic job with brown rice. It isn’t the fastest model available; the Zojirushi NS-TSC10 takes nearly two hours to fully slow-cook a batch of brown rice, but the results will absolutely be worthwhile: a plump and moist consistency to your meal, each and every time, with all of the substantial nutritional benefits to brown rice being faithfully preserved for your family to enjoy (because that’s why people opt for brown rice, right? The nutrients label… it’s not the warm, moist, and sumptuous consistency… of course not). Meanwhile, it’s still a convenient model with an easy-clean surface and multiple settings, and it’s even more affordable than many Asian rice cookers… including some of the more expensive Zojirushi rice cookers. If you’re on a budget, this is the best Zojirushi rice cooker for you and your family.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker NS-LAC05

Right away, one of our favorite aspects of this cooker is its stainless steel casing. That might sound a bit odd, but it makes this particular small-capacity cooker extremely easy to clean. If stains and spills are attended to promptly, most of what winds up on the surface of this particular rice cooker can be easily wiped away with a damp cloth or paper towel. On to the meat (rice?) of the matter, however: this model is a three-cup capacity rice cooker from Zojirushi, one of the leading and most trusted purveyors of traditional Japanese kitchen appliances with active product lines currently available on the open market. In fact, Zojirushi’s appliances can be found anywhere from Wal-Mart, to Target, to Sears. At three cups maximum, this cooker isn’t well-suited for the average family, but it’s potentially the best Zojirushi rice cooker for a young single, a student, or a couple just getting their life started together. The NAS-LAC05 features an on-board microcomputer which can handle many functions smartly, such as keeping finished rice warm and delicious with an automatic “keep warm” mode. Its numerous pre-installed settings include functions for white, brown, or mixed rice, long grain wild rice, sticky rice for sushi, and “quick cook” modes that offer high-quality plain white rice at microwave cooking speeds.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker NHS-10

Hold your horses, ladies and gentlemen; this one’s a jumbo! With a six-cup capacity, this cooker can easily handle enough rice to feed the typical American family of four and two-thirds people, particularly if that two-thirds of a person doesn’t have much of an appetite (perhaps their stomach is in the other third). It can even handle the odd dinner guest or three, who are assuredly going to show up more often if they know that your family is serving plump, wholesome rice-based dishes created in this absolute necessity of an innovation for any rice-loving family. Seriously… if the man of the house likes to go back for seconds, followed by the children in his fine example, this is the best Zojirushi rice cooker for your situation. It will keep everyone fed, happy, and satisfied, and is sure to earn compliments for the deliciousness of one meal after another. It even includes a built-in steaming tray – made of stainless steel, for easy cleaning and rinsing – so that you can steam healthy and satisfying vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, and snow peas, to go along with your rice. This is an excellent Japanese-style rice cooker if you like making delicious and wholesome meals fit for a Thanksgiving-sized get-together!