Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Ninja in the Kitchen... Nutri Ninja with Auto iQ Review

The number of blender and blender combos that have passed through my kitchen over the years seems endless.  From cheap store brand models to expensive high end machines, I've tried them all.  Some exceeded my expectations, some didn't, but mostly I've been frustrated at trying to find one that works for a decent price.

However... I think I've found it!  Meeting Ninja representatives at last fall's International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle, the smiling company representatives brought a sense of community to a room full of strangers, and the Green Smoothie with Pineapple they offered refreshed my over-indulgence with raw nutrients.

Impressed with the ultra "smoothness" of their smoothie, an offer to test and review the Nutri Ninja with Auto iQ had me responding an immediate, "Yes!".  Could a product with a blender, food processor and multi-sized serving cups (with tops) really do the job?  In a word... Yes.

As an owner (and lover) of one of those expensive models, this Ninja had its work cut out for it.  I've become used to ultra smooth smoothies, perfectly blended pesto, creamy hummus and evenly crushed frozen margaritas at the touch of a button.  Now to test the Ninja.

Click here for recipe
First up, one of my favorite green drinks and probably the easiest test for the Ninja, the Apple Arugula Detox Drink.  Placing half of an apple along with handfuls of arugula, goji berries, flax meal and chia seeds along with a few large ice cubes into one of the serving cups I screwed on the blade assembly and fitted the cup into the machine.

Pressing the Ultra Blend button the machine went into action stopping and starting (pure brilliance!) so the ingredients kept falling to the bottom (and I didn't have to scrape any sides) where they then blended up evenly.

That's the "Auto iQ" system where "unique blending, pulsing and pausing cycles deliver consistent even results every time".  And it did.  Time and again the cycle brought smooth smoothies and blended green drinks with no stray unblended chunks of anything.  Even the chia seeds disappeared into the mix.

Pouring a perfectly blended (and I do mean perfect) drink into glasses, my favorite part of the process was simply placing the blending cup into the dishwasher.  Something I can't do with that expensive unit that always needs to be washed by hand.  Score for Ninja.

Click here for recipe
Next up, our favorite Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.  Simple blenders and a small food processor haven't been able to puree the sun-dried tomatoes and basil evenly, leaving nonuniform pieces throughout.  The Ninja?

Again, the blending, pulsing and pausing worked beautifully in the cup bringing a uniformly blended pesto.  So we tried again with a larger batch in the food processor bowl.

A big batch of pesto perfection took less than a minute from start to finish.  And... the blade removed from the food processor bowl they simply popped into the dishwasher for cleanup (note I usually wash the blades by hand to retain sharpness - the dishwasher can dull them over time).  Another score for the Ninja!

But how about a the classic blended margarita?  I'm fairly picky about this one, and many times blenders leave a nearly perfect blended margarita with a few unappealing big chunks of ice floating in the cup... but not the Ninja.  Perfectly slushy, frozen margaritas at the touch of a button.  Having friends over, they kindly offered to be Ninja testers so we blended up another margarita batch, this time with fruit (whole blood oranges) mixed into the ingredients.  Results?  Cheers all around!

Since receiving the machine I've found myself reaching for it multiple times a day, and I love having the food processor bowl attach to the base, making it two machines in one.

Chia Hummus with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Za'atar
Need to process a batch of hummus?  Placing the ingredients into the bowl, the blade system works extraordinarily close to the bottom of the bowl ensuring a smooth, creamy result...  Every time.  My most recent attempt at hummus included those sometimes difficult to blend sun-dried tomatoes, but they proved to be no issue for the Ninja blade system.

On a side note, I used every part of this system for my Thanksgiving dinner prep... Butternut Soup in the blender, small batch Cranberry Sauce in the cup, streusel for the Sweet Potatoes in the food processor, green drink to keep my energy up in the cup, crumble for the Cranberry Apple Crisp in the food processor, etc.  

Oh... and did I mention Acai Bowls??  Creating a thick acai "sorbet" is sometimes difficult.  Maintaining the thickness is key, but in other processors or blenders we've had to add extra liquid to get the ingredients to blend completely, hence making them more into a smoothie, and therefore no longer the desired thick acai bowl consistency.  Again, not an issue for this machine.

Blended Acai Sorbet for Acai Bowl... thick and smooth, just like it's supposed to be!
Here's a rundown of the pros and cons we came across in our month-long test:

  • Smoothies in a snap!  Smooth and creamy every time with no unprocessed "chunks" of anything.  The Ninja has become our "go-to" Smoothie/Green Drink blending machine for its cup on the go convenience, consistent quality and pure ease of use.  See next point...
  • Clean-up.  Pieces come apart easily and wash up in the dishwasher or by hand with ease (no blades to cut your fingers when washing the bottom of a bowl or pitcher).
  • Blender, Cups and Food Processor all in one.  You can get rid of that old Food Processor and blender you have in the cabinet and you're set with this one product.
  • Food Processor blades are shaped process smooth uniform results and clean up easily with little to no scraping of the bowl necessary. 
  • Suction cups on the bottom of the base.  One of my favorite things!  These cups "suck" amazingly well to the counter and the machine won't move unless you want it to.  No wobbling off the counter when your back is turned.
  • Price... You get a blender, ice crusher and food processor all in one along with a kitchen workhorse (Ninja-style!) for less than those other expensive blender models.
  • A little noisy... but aren't all blenders?  However my husband complained that he thought this one was a "little too loud" (note that he's a little sensitive before his morning coffee... ;)  ).
  • Nut butter... while the machine made a decent nut butter, it wasn't quite as smooth as I would have liked it on the first process.  Another processing though and it was fine, and we found it worked better with a larger sized batch.
And there you have it.  Often we give the products we review to friends and family, but this beauty is staying with me.  I've given away my old food processor and store brand single use blender and now I have a Ninja in my kitchen.  Nutri Ninja Acai Bowl anyone??

Acai Bowl blended in Ninja cup

Liv Life Note:  Liv Life received the Nutri Ninja Auto iQ System from Ninja, but we were not paid to write this review.  As always, I would not have reviewed the item if I didn't fully believe in it and unless I could whole hearted recommend it.  Thank you Ninja for the opportunity...  I'm looking forward to a long relationship with this product!

For more reviews and Ninja recipes see:
She's Cookin
Let's Dish
Ninja Recipes


  1. I have been loving mine! And I can't wait to try your sun dried tomato pesto recipe!

  2. I would love to own one I have been bugging my husband to buy one for me but he is so frugal :/

  3. I'm putting this on my Christmas list!

  4. This looks like a great product! I know what I'm asking for for Christmas!


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