Review: Sage by Heston Blumenthal - The Boss Blender

by - October 28, 2015

  Let me just begin by saying I have heard many good things about Sage by Heston Blumenthal. His team and himself take a very scientific approach when developing appliances and it just gives machines that do what they are built to do, and well. He often thinks of that is wrong with the current appliances in the market and works to fix that in the Sage range. I remember hearing about his microwave and how fab the smart settings were, as well as how it didn't make soup bubble and spurt out all over the inside of the oven.

  But this post isn't about the microwave, it is about his high-speed blender: The Boss. And because it is by Heston Blumenthal I have decided to also delve a little deeper into the science and nutrition behind the machine so that we all know a little more about blending VS juicing... all the little myths you may have heard here and there about what is better for you and why. While The Boss is a high speed blender, I have often wondered about the nutritional differences between a juice and a smoothie, and thought it would be fun just to discuss it a little!

  Firstly, I believe strongly that both juicers and blended smoothies can offer you good nutrition although many people argue that one is better than the other. I have been doing some reading up on the benefits of both, as well as reading through some science-backed research and have come to the conclusion that no method is superior to the other.

  Juices are great and smoothies are great, and in different ways. For example, one reason why smoothies are often thought to be better for you than juices is because they still contain the dietary fibre of the fruit and veg you you use, and all this is stripped away in a juice. Dietary fibre is important in your diet as it slows the rate at which your blood sugar levels rise after a meal, less dietary fibre = a faster, higher rise in blood sugar and vice versa. The slower the rise in your blood sugar, the smaller the strain on your pancreas to produce enough insulin to bring your blood sugar levels back down to normal. This, of course, is important especially in diabetics. Fibre is also a very important part of your diet (the recommended intake is about 25-30 g a day), being in important factor in letting food move through your gut easily, and juicing fruit instead of adding them to a smoothie can be seen as 'wasting' the opportunity to consume that fibre.

  While this is true, it does not mean that juices are more likely to cause diabetes due to the spikes in blood sugar, or lead you to put on more weight as a result of that. In fact, the amount of fibre in a food does not have a direct+strong correlation with the rise in your blood sugar levels. in other words, the previously mentioned equation of 'less dietary fibre = a faster, higher rise in blood sugar' is not always the case. Removing the fibre in a juice also allows your gut to absorb more of the nutrients in it, while drinking an equivalent smoothie may result in some of these nutrients not being absorbed at all because it is 'trapped' within the dietary fibre. This way you can pack in a lot more nutrition for the same volume of fluid you consume.

  So, as you can see, chose a juice or a smoothie based on how you want it to treat your body. If you need a fast boost of energy and vitamins, a juice will be your best bet, while if you need something to keep you full until lunchtime, the fibre in a smoothie will make it the better option. That being said, there are ways in which you can pimp a juice in order to make it behave more like a smoothie. I like to add wheatgrass powder to add soluble fibre to a juice to let it keep me full for longer.

  In fact, juices have been found to contain a higher nutrient content than an equivalent smoothie for things like Vitamins C and A as well as potassium. Smoothies, on the other hand, proved to be a better way of delivering calcium to your body for the same ingredients. The reasons for the differences in nutrients between a smoothie and a juice despite containing the exact same ingredients is because both juicing and blending process the ingredients in such a way that some of the nutrients are destroyed. Nutrients in fruit and veg are always being destroyed, from being picked off a tree/from the ground to when you chew it. Nutrient destruction is inevitable but different amounts of each nutrient are retained depending on how you process it. The longer the time the fruit has going through a blender/juicer, the more nutrients you destroy. Also, the more heat that is applied to the ingredients, the less nutrients you retain.

  If you extend this last argument, it is easy to see how many people think that a slow juicer may offer more that a centrifugal juicer. Slow juicers essentially are marketed as applying less heat as it juices, and thus retaining more vitamins etc when you drink it. However, as it's name implies, the fruit also spends more time going through a slow juicer (about 30 times more, in fact) so it is in contact with the heat for longer. By the end of it all, if you take into account the total heat applied to the ingredients, the difference isn't that much for a slow and fast juicer, if there is any difference at all. For this reason, there is actually little difference between vitamin and mineral content of a slow juice VS a fast juice.

  So, why buy a juicer or blender when you can just get juice off a supermarket shelf or from a juice bar? (1) The cost; and (2) the nutrition you actually receive. Firstly, cost. A juicer may seem to be an hefty investment at first because it is so much more expensive than a juice, for example. But if you drink a fair amount of juice, you are going to have to buy a fair amount of juices. And if you add that all up, it easily makes up for the juicer in about 20 or so juices. Also, having your own juicer lets you make your own juice (duh) and that way you can chose what goes into your own drink. Don't like carrots? Leave them out. I have found that smoothie companies often try to be inventive with flavours and some of them have just one ingredient in it that just isn't working (picky eater confession). Juices themselves are heavily overpriced for the ingredients actually in them, so bite the bullet, invest in your health, in saves you a lot of money in the long term. Secondly, nutrition. Stuff on supermarket shelves are pasteurised, maybe they have stabilisers and preservatives. All these reduce the nutrition of the drink itself. Juices left sitting out on a juice bar shelf, while maybe fresh when looking at the bigger picture, actually lose nutrients as they sit out there. When you juice it yourself you have the option to drink it immediately. More vitamins for you. Win win.

While I would love to ramble on and on about the whole debate, I don't want to bore you. If you are interested in reading more about the science behind it all, I really loved this website called Juicing Science, it was really informative and was backed by solid evidence and really had no ulterior motive, so it's probably one of the least biased sources out there.

And if you have found yourself, after reading my juice VS smoothie debate, that you're more of a juice kinda person, Sage has a fabulous rage of juicers that I have had my eye on.

  I have been talking a lot about smoothies when it comes to blending, and while The Boss makes a mean green smoothie (and even has a smart setting for that BOOYAH), the sky really is the limit. It can make hot soups, mill you fresh flour from buckwheat or quinoa, grind you ridiculously creamy nut butters, whip up some banana ice cream, frozen cocktails (wink wink), mix up the batter for a baked good... I could go on.
  I mentioned a green smoothie smart setting, and it also comes with one for crushing ice, normal smoothies (which is different from the 'green' kind because you don't have to blend through fibrous leaves and what-have-you), frozen desserts and soups. The manual settings on The Boss itself are very easy to use, just twirl the dial to up the power. It also has a timer (for those emergency loo breaks) and a pause button (when you just don't know if a soup is done enough). The Boss is a winner for presets and functions.

  Often high speed blenders require you to use a paddle (or tamper... depending on which school of blender lingo you subscribe to) to push the ingredients down towards the blades. Which, as someone with a very tall vitamix and very low overhead cabinets on the kitchen counter, involved a lot of me knocking my hand on the bottom of the cabinet itself (i.e. much pain). While The Boss does come with a paddle, I found that I didn't have to use it as often as I had with my other blender. I suppose this has to do with the design of the blades and also the angle of the base on the jug. It is designed to push food up and away from the blades as the spin, allowing the un-blended food to fall down towards the base to get ground up themselves. That isn't to say you can just ditch the paddle, some of the tougher things (i.e. nut butters) require a bit of coaxing, but smoothies and soups seemed to blend without me having to intervene.
  Clean up on this is a breeze. I forgot to mention it also has a smart setting for washing up. So pour a bit of water into the blender post-soup-making, add a drop of fairy liquid and press 'auto clean'. Then just rinse it out with water. Easy peasy.
  The blender is a bit on the noisy side, but you have to remember that it is after all a high speed blender, and nothing that has a power to crush solid ice into a beautifully fine granita is going to be very silent. It is still quieter than my vitamix, though. I have thin walls in my room and was afraid of angering my neighbours, but I never actually ended up blending for very long for it to be annoying. I hope. Otherwise I have very polite neighbours and have myself been ridiculously inconsiderate.
  Something I struggled a bit with, was getting all my smoothie/banana ice cream/other wet blended food item out of the jug. Because the base is narrow to allow the ingredients to be pushed up, it is difficult to get, for example, every little bit of an acai smoothie out from under the blade into your glass. I had to buy a very small and long spatula to solve this problem. Which, considering the silky smooth smoothies it gives me, is fair enough.

  The boss comes with several really great recipes and also has loads of beautifully-shot recipe videos on youtube. Heston Blumenthal also has several videos on how the design of the jug makes this blender stand out from other high speed blenders. So check that out if you are thinking of this baby.
  I know that cost is an important factor when choosing what to buy, and any high-speed blender isn't going to come very cheap. I personally did toy with the idea of just getting a regular blender when I was thinking of buying my first high speed blender, but when it came down to it, I realised that I was willing to pay for the better quality result I would get, and also the additional features of a HS blender. For example, it may just kill an average blender to crush ice or to grind nuts into a butter, something I now use The Boss for on a regular basis. Also HS blenders often come with fairly long warranties, seven years for The Boss, which guarantees you many years of beautifully smooth soups. And even then, they often last years and years beyond their warranty. So it is an investment, yes, but in my opinion, it's an investment worth making.

Now that I have given you my two cents on how I liked The Boss, here are a couple of recipes I have made and that I adore:

Smokey Sunflower Butter

2 cups sunflower seeds, toasted while stirring constantly in a dry pan on the skillet until fragrant
1 tsp rice malt syrup
1 tsp pink himalayan sea salt

Place the ingredients into the blender and blend on the highest spin setting until a 'butter' consistency is obtained. This spread is the perfect replacement for PB if you've got an allergy, or if you just want to try something a little different!

Raw Vegan Chocolate Vanilla Cheesecake

1 cup sunflower seeds
8-9 big medjool dates
Pinch of sea salt

200g cashews, soaked in water a minimum of an hour but preferably overnight
1/3 cup honey/sweetener of choice
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cacao powder
1/3 cup coconut oil, softened

For decoration:
Sea Buckthorn powder/edible flowers/cacao nibs...

Grease a cake pan with a removable base with coconut oil, you can line the sides with parchment, it helps with removal but isn't necessary! Blend the crust ingredients (I used the mill setting) together into a dough and then press it evenly into the bottom of the pan. 
Drain the soaked cashews and blend them with the rest of the ingredients for the cheese layer, until it forms a smooth paste. Pour this on top of the crust layer and smooth the top out. Add any garnishes if you want! Freeze it for a minimum of 6 hours to let it set, and you can either cut it with a knife dipped in hot water and dried or move it to the fridge an hour before serving.

'Nana Ice Cream Bowl

2 bananas, sliced and frozen overnight
Granola, or muesli - I made my own mix for this my using 1/2 cup toasted and dry oat mix, a handful of flame raisins and some pepitas
Sliced fruit - figs, persimmons, berries, peaches... more bananas
Chia Seeds

This is almost too simple to be a recipe, think of it more of a guide. It's very customisable and just tinker with it to suit what you like and hand on hand!
Place frozen banana chunks into The Boss and blend on the 'frozen dessert' setting, using the paddle if necessary until a creamy thick paste has formed. I waited a bit too long while decorating my bowl so mine melted quite a bit! Place in a bowl and top with muesli, fresh fruit and chia seeds for some extra omega 3s (yummmm). Drizzle a bit of honey and cinnamon if you fancy, or add a spoonful of peanut butter... get fancy!

Spiced Carrot soup

6-7 small carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 a head of a large cauliflower
3 cups vegetable stock
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Salt, if desired
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 cup red split lentils, washed
Seeds of 4 cardamom pods

In a pot, boil the red split lentils in 1 cup of vegetable stock until they are cooked through and mushy, about 15-20 minutes. Add all the ingredients into the blender along with the cooked lentils and blend on the soup setting.

How simple are these? It's made my student lunches so quick and easy to whip up, meaning I cook for myself a lot more and it's so much healthier and cheaper than eating out all the time! These are only 4 of the many things I made, and I have many lots of other recipes already on the blog in them:
Falafels, Brocc-Cauli salad, Dosa, Hummus, Pesto,  Shiitake Pate, Buckwheat Porridge, Hazelnut Mousse, Bliss balls (of course!), my FAVOURITE raw fig rolls, healthy cookie dough and 'nana popsicles.

  Small disclaimer: I was sent the appliance to review and give it a spin (heh heh see what I did there?) but the opinions are all my own!

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