Back to Basics Smoothie Chill - not all that smooth...
Jul 20, 2006 (Updated Oct 14, 2006)
Review by xiphoid
Rated a Very Helpful Review
I recently took a trip to the BirchCreek health retreat. While there, I learned all about raw foods, and following an all-natural, mostly raw, vegan diet. One of the major staples in such a diet is fresh juice, because it's so packed with nutrition.
Recommend this product?
Well - I'm in the market for a juicer, but before I spend serious money on a serious juicer, I decided I should at least be able to make a smoothie. I knew I could get a smoothie maker for a lot less, and decided to go that route in the meantime.
I didn't really do any shopping around. My decision to buy the Smoothie Chill was based on the fact that it was in Wal Mart at the same time I was, and was only about $18. I figured it was inexpensive enough that if it crapped out, I wouldn't be too disappointed.
The Smoothie Chill is pretty straightforward. I'm willing to bet that about 99.99% of the population will be able to figure this this thing out upon removing it from the box. Still, I made sure to check the instructions. The machine has only a few parts - base, container, stirring stick, and plug for the top. You can use either the stirring stick or the plug, as they both fit through the same lid opening. In terms of actually making the smoothies, I referred to the suggestions to get the best smoothie I could. In reality, I really didn't even need to check, considering this thing is idiot-proof! How, you ask? Well, on the side of the container, there are fill lines to indicate where liquid ingredients (fruit, liquids) should be filled to, and where frozen ingredients (ice, frozen fruit) should be filled to. It also indicates that the container should serve about 3.
Here's some info from the Wal Mart website:
Back to Basics Smoothie Chill
The Smoothie Chill combines smoothie maker innovation with an economical price point. Designed for basic smoothie making, the Smoothie Chill offers the simple ON/OFF and pulse function of a bar blender with the innovative dispensing valve and stir stick expected in a smoothie maker. Includes a 40 ounce container and a 350-watt pulse-power motor.
- 350-watt pulse-power motor
- 40oz container
- Stir Stick improves mixing efficiency
- Dispensing valve offers mess-free serving
Making the smoothie...
It was pretty simple. I followed the indicator lines, and filled with fresh fruit and ice, respectively. I then placed the lid on top, and stuck the stirring stick through the opening, as the instructions recommended stirring while blending. The one button on the smoothie maker gives three options - off, on, and pulse. The instructions recommended pulsing a few times before switching to a constant blend mode, so that's just what I did. It took me quite a while to get things moving. I pulsed, and I stirred, and I blended, and stirred some more. It definitely took longer than expected - and it was LOUDER for sure.
Eventually, I got the ice to break up, and I had a very, very thick smoothie. This means that the easy pour valve was not going to be much help in emptying the container. Instead, I took the top off and spooned it out. The next few smoothies I made used different methods. I tried adding less ice, no ice, soy milk, frozen fruit, more fruit, less fruit, you get the idea. No matter what I did, I still got these ultra-thick smoothies that were near impossible to drink without letting them sit for a while first. I think my last option will be to freeze some dried, raw fruit, and mix that with soy milk - a local health food store uses this method to perfection. Aside from that, I've given up on the methods I've tried! I still make them, but I make them and let them sit for a while to make sure they're liquid, and not near-sorbet consistency.
The enclosed booklet includes various recipes, most of which are similar to my attempts, so, no help there.
The good and the bad...
On the plus side, the Smoothie Chill is very easy to clean. A simple warm water rinse of the stirring stick and other parts cleans it right up, assuming you don't have anything stuck at the bottom of the container - in which case, it requires a little more work, but overall it's very easy to clean. It's also very easy to use, and the stirring stick does help with getting ice and frozen fruit down closer to the blades. It also makes very little mess. Nothing flies out the top and nothing leaks. It also takes up very little space, which is a huge plus for me because we have very little counter space! The cord is quite short, though, and barely reaches any nearby outlets. Also, as I mentioned, it's quite noisy. Anything frozen you put into it is going to make it infinitely worse. I sometimes feel like I'm pushing the machine too hard, or that it doesn't have the power to break up something frozen. Well, it eventually works - but it does take a little work to get things going.
Better than a blender?
The box claims that the Smoothie Chill will work better than a blender when it comes to making smoothies. Now, I did own a blender. I'm not sure where that blender is now, as I've been through a couple of moves. I was (somehow) under the impression that a smoothie maker would be better, anyway. Well, aside from the fact that a "smoothie maker" has a stirring stick and a valve for "easy" dispensing, I really don't see any major differences. In fact, I think my blender was more powerful, had a larger container, and obviously more options than this little guy. I also paid more than $18 for that blender, to be fair.
Would I recommend it?
Maybe. If you're looking for something cheap and easy, and don't need a ton of power, then go ahead and give this a try. If you're making smoothies or mixed drinks for a party and are going to need to have this thing running continuously, and need your drinks quickly, then I would say no. I'm not sure about durability. Overall, it's not a terrible little machine, but it's definitely not made for the serious smoothie maker. If I could go back, I'd just stick to a blender so I could still make smoothies yet have more options for use.
** UPDATE **
A little while after writing this, I figured out the perfect combo. The best way to make a real smoothie in this, is to use all fresh fruit, some liquid (I use organic soy milk) and maybe one or two ice cubes to keep the thing cold. It will come out a much better consistency. So, the less ice you can get away with, the better! Perfect smoothie every time.
Just don't follow their recommendations.
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Amount Paid (US$): 18
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