Monday, December 7, 2009

VitaMix Love ~ by Olivia

The ever-wonderful Jen invited me to guest blog ages ago, and I'm excited to finally share a bit of my story with you, her readers. This is a passionate, international love story (the unabridged version--whoops!) involving a girl on a mission, a very handsome man, and a blender. Yes, a blender. A VitaMix to be exact.

I had been coveting a VitaMix ever since I first began really exploring the raw food lifestyle about two years ago. Those suckers are impressive! It seemed you could add just about anything to a smoothie in those canisters, and within seconds, it would be silky goodness. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. Sadly, even used models were a bit (ha!) beyond my very, very modest budget. Health was a priority, and I’m a first-rate foodie, but I also had nearly five figures of credit card debt, and I just couldn’t justify spending hundreds of dollars on a blender.

Enter: very handsome man. About a year ago, I begrudgingly went on yet another date through In fact, I was so reluctant to meet this guy that I showed up on time, went to the bar next door, had one more glass of wine, and then, newly fortified, entered the original meeting place and introduced myself. Had I known what was waiting for me, I would have gotten there early. Sitting on a bar stool, sipping a beer, was a tall (6’4”!), handsome, well-traveled aspiring writer. In short, my dream man. Here we are on a hike in Busan, a coastal town in South Korea:

What does this have to do with a blender, you ask? Well, this wonderful fella challenged and inspired me. Within months, I had arranged to join him for work in Korea for a year. A job that would allow me to travel and pay off that crushing debt. After the summer crunch, I decided I deserved a treat. Keeping my three priorities for the year in mind (1. Health, 2. Paying off debt, 3. Savoring this new part of the world), I decided I would finally splurge and buy myself a VitaMix. Used. Through eBay. And it works like a charm.

(For any of you out there struggling in the VitaMix v. BlendTec debate, I encourage you to check out the ever-amazing Kristen Suzanne’s review on Kristen’s Raw. She also has a stellar review of juicers, which makes me covet the Hurom. Maybe that’ll be my next splurge when I return to the States.)

One of my dearest friends from the States was coming to visit, and offered to lug the HEAVY blender 8,000 miles for me so I didn’t have to pay international shipping. In a bittersweet twist, the handsome man broke his jaw the day before my friend was due to arrive. Although his surgery and hospital stay complicated the visit, we were brilliantly lucky to have the VitaMix. I was able to make a host of different veggie-packed soups to help keep him nourished while his mouth was wired shut. It may have also held up to a twice-daily peanut-butter-and-chocolate milkshake habit.

Thankfully, the wires are off, the milkshakes have stopped, and the VitaMix is now mostly fulfilling a single role: making my super-delish green smoothies. I am not raw vegan, even though I feel best when I do follow that lifestyle. I’m not even vegetarian, despite my omnivore guilt, compounded by staying informed through sources like Food, Inc., Tom Robbins’ Diet for a New America, and the amazing resources over at CrazySexyLife. But I do believe in Sarma Melingalis’ approach. To paraphrase: rather than panicking about not being raw, just try to add more raw food to your diet. Add more good stuff, and soon you’ll be craving more good stuff. Start a good cycle.

I can’t seem to get in the regular practice of yoga and meditation, but I have gotten into the green smoothie practice. And man oh man is it great. I was skeptical at first. I mean, drinking kale? Really? But I wanted to give it a shot. So the first chance I got, I cut up some kale, threw it into the VitaMix with some fruit and flax seed and green powder, turned thing to high power and…blew a fuse. I had plugged it into our transformer, but it just couldn’t handle the full power. We finally figured out a way to make it work (unplug everything else, save the router, and only turn it on half-way), and I have been savoring my green smoothies ever since. I still can’t wait to be back on American soil so I can see what this machine can do at full power, but this is working great for now.

Because systems and routines and simplifications make it infinitely more likely for me to stick to healthy habits, I’ve stashed all my smoothie making goodies together in the fridge:

And in the freezer:

A typical smoothie starts with a heaping scoop of UltraInflamX, a special enzyme and protein powder prescribed by my naturopath. Apparently I’m missing an enzyme that helps me process fruits and veggies (I don’t remember what enzyme it is). Although this powder carries a hefty price tag, I haven’t found anything else that works anywhere near as well. Right now I don’t take the full dose, largely because of the difficulty and expense of having it shipped to me in Korea. Thankfully I have a generous and loving mother who helps with the logistics. And sticker shock.

I add ground flax seed and bee pollen, and I’ve recently added Flax Oil to the mix as well. It is rumored to help with seasonal depression, and I do feel brighter since adding it to my regimen, which is great. I top it off with a big scoop of SuperGreens. I buy all of these through iHerb*, which has stellar international shipping rates and policies. At the suggestion of another friend/health junkie, Eve, I also ordered Maca powder, which I’m eager to try.

Once all the superfoods and extra boosts are in there, I cut up some super sweet baby kale leaves, though I am going to start rotating my greens, per Kristen Suzanne. This week: spinach. I top it off with frozen fruit. Here, I’m using strawberries, blueberries, and mango:

Cover with water, crank on the VitaMix, and a minute or two later, you’ve got some super delish, health packed smoothie to start your day. I’m in the process of trying to wean myself off sugar – again – and have found that starting with a green smoothie makes all the difference in the world.

Trying to get and stay healthy thousands of miles away from the world you’re used to – especially when you don’t speak the local language – certainly has its challenges, but with some persevering and planning, it’s possible. You don’t need the Cadillac of blenders to make it happen, though it’s certainly nice. And fun. Seek out what the locals eat, and you might discover a whole new set of health benefits. I’ve fallen absolutely in love with kimchi, which is chock full of stuff to make you feel good. (That's what I'm about to sip on in that photo up top.)

To read more about my adventures in Seoul, complete with reflections on my health and travel photos, visit my website at The View from There, or follow me on twitter at OliviaLindquist.

Cheers to your health!

*If you’re new to iHerb, use the code XIM000 at checkout to receive $5.00 off your first order.


Eve Jelebi said...

I love this post and love reading about Olivia's adventures!

james said...

i live in Korea now too. my wife and i want to get a vitamix, but is there not an amp issue? did you buy a step down (or up?) amp transformer?