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posted: 3/11/2014 5:45 AM

Food editor gives juicer, blenders a whirl

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  • Whole Slow Juicer

    Whole Slow Juicer
    Courtesy of Kuvings

  • Courtesy of Blendtec

    Courtesy of Blendtec

By Deborah Pankey

I so wanted to be able to make green smoothies and juices in the blender I got for my wedding, but the truth is it just wasn't up to the task. Yes, my Cuisinart works well for fruit smoothies and puréeing broccoli soup, but it struggled with fibrous kale.

I figured that if you want juice, you need a juicer.

There are two types: centrifugal and masticating. Centrifugal juicers generally have teeth that shred the produce into pulp and then extract the juice using centrifugal force. This type can cost $50 to $500.

Masticating juicers crush the fruit with an auger-like attachment; the pulp funnels out one opening, the juice another. They're generally more expensive, running $200 to $500.

I recently tested Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer. The Korean company just opened its North American headquarters in Elk Grove Village and they dropped one off for me to try. This is the masticating type and because there is no heat involved, more of the nutrients stay intact.

After a brief demo at the office, I took it home and gave it a go, tossing two whole apples, a peeled clementine, a halved pear, six carrots and a handful of kale leaves into its wide mouth. The juice was fresh and sweet; my 11-year-old described it as "kind of funky" and then drank it. That from a kid who won't touch a salad!

The Kuvings juicer was easy to assemble and I like that the sturdy plastic parts are all BPA-free. It was a bit difficult to clean the pulp out of the shoot, but the carrots didn't discolor the plastic.

I was left with a bin of pulp, and our bearded dragons only ate a fraction of it. If you juice a lot of carrots, save the shreds for carrot cake. I'm told you can dehydrate the pulp and snack on it, but since I'm not up for investing in another kitchen gadget, the pulp headed to the compost pile.

On the blender side, when it comes to mixing up vegetable-based smoothies, you need a high-performance machine, something with 2 to 3 horsepower that can pulverize carrots and shred kale stems. Many people have told me how much they love their Vitamix and I've used one at a friend's house with great results. So I turned to a Blendtec Home Blender for testing.

Pears and peeled pineapple went in first. When I pressed the digital display for "juice," my son and I jumped back as it roared to life. I mean roared. This machine is not quiet. It vibrated on the counter as it ramped up speed and ran its timed cycle.

In less than a minute we had a foamy, pulpy, tasty liquid, but I wouldn't really call it juice. I'll stick with a juicer when I want juice.

On green smoothies, however, this machine is a wizard. It powered through a packed jar of kale, kiwi, clementine, lime and frozen banana slices. After school the other day, my son mixed up smoothies with apple/mango juice, frozen mango, fresh pineapple and a banana for himself and a friend.

At $454, the blender has a hefty price tag. But, hey, if it gets my son to eat more fruits and vegetables it's probably worth it.

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