You don’t need to be a health junkie to enjoy a good smoothie. Whether it’s breakfast, morning tea or a pick-me-up after a workout, a fresh, fruity beverage really hits the spot.
But with the plethora of smoothie-makers, blenders, processors and various other food-pulverising machines crowding the shelves, it’s not easy to know what to buy.
Enter Nutribullet, a ubiquitous brand familiar to even the strictest couch potatoes among us. The company has dominated the smoothie market for some time, and its latest product – the Nutribullet Balance – is an intriguing addition to its arsenal.
Inside the box is a base, a set of blades, two large cups, two lids and two rings to help you use the cup on the go.
Using the Balance is, like most Nutribullet products, a simple endeavour. Fill your cup with ingredients, screw on the blades, upend the whole thing and stick it in the base. When you push the cup downwards and twist it slightly, the 1,200-watt motor spins the blades until you release pressure. Because the blades come separate to the base, they’re easy to detach and clean alongside the cup without needing to give the machine a few rinse cycles.
The device’s ease of use is excellent overall – you just can’t use it with anything hot, and you’ll occasionally encounter difficulties with frozen fruit and vegetables. But that’s the same with any of Nutribullet’s products; where the Balance sets itself apart is the corresponding app and the smart scale hidden within its base.
The goal of the Balance is to take the guesswork out of your smoothie. By linking its built-in scale with an app on your smartphone or tablet, the Balance makes it far easier to understand what you’re putting into your body with breakdowns on calories, protein, fat, carbs, sugar and fibre.
Ultimately, it’s the app that will determine whether or not the Balance is for you.
Using the app
Anything that connects to your phone via Bluetooth is a roll of the dice: some take forever to recognise your device, others connect smoothly and effortlessly. Thankfully, the Nutribullet Balance fell into the latter category when I set it up.
Opening the app for the first time will start a video that includes instructions on connecting your phone to the Balance and getting the most out of the app.
Once you get through the tutorial, you’ll see a bunch of features within the app:
- Dashboard: View daily and weekly nutritional reports based on the smoothies you’ve made.
- Recipes: Find a bunch of recipes for smoothies and other healthy dishes.
- Pantry: List items from your fridge, freezer or pantry and find recipes using those ingredients.
- Shopping List: Record what you need to buy on your next shopping run.
- Profile: Create an account, set goals and adjust preferences.
When it comes to making a smoothie, you have three options: make a smoothie using a recipe from the app, make up your own recipe using the app’s nutrition counter or wing it entirely and use it as a classic Nutribullet. If you find yourself doing the latter, you’ve wasted your money.
When you open a recipe within the app, it’ll instruct you to add each ingredient one by one. As you add each ingredient, the smart scale will ensure you’re putting in the right amount each time. Once everything is in the cup, push and twist the cup to start blending – the kicker here is that you can walk away and the app will tell the Balance to keep blending for the time specified in the recipe.
You can still make the most of the app when making up your own recipe on the go. As you add each ingredient and record it in the app, it will give you a detailed nutritional breakdown of your creation – often leading you to realise it’s less healthy than you think. Any successful experiments can be saved for future reference.
If you’re one to make smoothies by throwing ingredients in at random and praying to the heavens your creation won’t taste like gutter sludge, there isn’t much to justify forking out $280 for the Balance over $120 for the Nutribullet 600 or 900.
But if you’d like to achieve specific health or fitness goals that rely on a carefully balanced diet, the Balance is an excellent kitchen companion. The main obstacle is the price tag. Personally, paying more than double for a more powerful motor (which doesn’t seem entirely necessary), easy access to recipes (we’ll always have Google) and extra nutritional information (the Balance’s major strength) doesn’t quite cut it. However, if you’re willing to invest, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.