Tess Masters is the first to admit she’s not a trained chef, but she has been experimenting with food for as long as she can remember. As a smoothie-obsessed teen, she started exploring the various virtues of the blender as a food prep tool, and she has never looked back. It was also starting in her teen years — after a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr virus — that Masters began searching for the perfect diet to help her feel healthier. Macrobiotic, vegan, raw food — you name it, she tried it. Ultimately, what she discovered is that her perfect diet (like everyone’s) was a blend. And so, The Blender Girl was born, and this spring, The Blender Girl Cookbook.
Let’s start with the obvious question: Why the blender as the basis for all your recipes?
It’s an extremely accessible way to prepare food. It’s not like baking or other techniques that involve chemistry and require real skill. With blending, you really can’t screw it up, which makes it very appealing to novice cooks. Plus, it’s really fast. Time is the most precious commodity we have, and I don’t want to compromise health, nutrition or taste just because I’m short on time.
What’s the most surprising creation to come out of your blender?
I think maybe my curry smoothie. I like to make smoothies that have interesting combinations of flavors and textures — just like a real meal. This one has spices and even chopped onion which give it the dimension, taste and texture of a true meal experience.
Are you advocating an all-smoothie diet?
No, the whole point is that there’s so much more you can do with a blender than juices and smoothies. You don’t need to check your teeth at the door. You can use the blender to make — or enhance — plenty of foods you can sink your teeth into. Like a chimichurri sauce for chicken, salad dressings, cake batters.
What are your favorite, unexpected, ingredients?
Miso paste would be number one on that list. You can use it in so many things, but my best discovery is that white miso paste totally replicates the taste of aged Parmesan cheese when I use it to make vegan pesto. I also love using the leafy greens no one else wants. I’ll go to the farmers market and vendors will give me bags of free beet greens, radish greens and carrot greens that other customers asked them to cut off and toss. And raw almonds, cashews and macadamia nuts are staples in my kitchen. Toss just a handful into a soup or smoothie and it replicates the creaminess of adding real cream.
You’ve said that blending isn’t just a food prep technique but a metaphor for how you live your life. Explain.
What I call the perfect blend goes beyond food — it’s also about work, exercise, spirituality, relationships. And your diet should be a blend too. I do believe that you really can help heal your body with food. But food should also be fun. It’s one of the great pleasures in life. I purposely designed all the recipes in the book to be tweaked and personalized so that everyone can turn them into their own perfect blend.
½ cup (120ml) coconut water
½ teaspoon probiotic powder (optional)
1 packet (3.5 ounces/100g) frozen acai pulp, or 2 tablespoons dried acai powder
2 teaspoons maqui powder
2 cups (320g) mixed fresh or frozen berries (1/2 cup each of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries)
½ cup (85g) red seedless grapes
1 ripe pear, skin on, cored and diced
½ teaspoon minced ginger (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest (optional)
1 cup (125g) ice cubes
1 chopped pitted date, soaked
Throw everything into your blender and puree on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and creamy. Tweak the sweetness to taste.
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.
Recipe and photos reprinted with permission from The Blender Girl by Tess Masters, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.
Photography (c) 2014 by Anson Smart