Nov
20

The Best Juicers for Beginners

If you’re like a lot of other folks these days, you’ve been hearing a lot about the many benefits of juicing.  If you’ve been thinking that juicing might be a good way for you to get more fruit and veggie goodness into your diet, you might be wondering how to find the best juicer.  There are so many out there that it can be hard to separate fact from hype.  A little knowledge about the different types of juicers can help you decide which one is right for you.

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The first thing to note is that there’s a difference between machines that make juice and those that make whole-food smoothies.  Juicers, as the name implies, separate the liquid in fruits and vegetables from the solids.  Machines that make whole-food smoothies are more like blenders capable of turning whole fruits and vegetables into a drinkable liquid.  While there are any number of machines designed specifically for making smoothies, a good quality “regular” blender that’s good at making frozen drinks can probably accomplish the same goal for considerably less money.

There are two types of general-purpose juicers:  centrifugal and masticating.  Centrifugal models first chop produce into a pulp and then spin that pulp at speeds high enough to separate the liquid from the solid.  The juice is sent to a reservoir, while the pulp is left behind.  Centrifugal juicers are less expensive than masticating models (we’ll talk about them below), but do produce less juice.  The spinning process can also heat the juice up a bit.

The other type of juicer is the masticating juicer.  Masticating juicers get their name from the fact that they replicate the chewing process, crushing and pressing produce to extract the juice.  Again, juice is sent to a reservoir, and the pulp is left behind.  As mentioned above, they do produce more juice than centrifugal models, but do cost more and tend to take longer to produce juice.

In addition to centrifugal and masticating juicers, which work with nearly all fruits and vegetables, there are juicers designed specifically for citrus fruits and juicers meant for wheatgrass (and some of the softest fruits).

When comparing models, one feature to consider is the intake chute, or opening into which you load your fruits and veggies.  A smaller intake chute means you’ll have to spend a little more time cutting your produce into pieces small enough to go in.

Capacity is the next thing to take into consideration.  There are three areas to look at here.  The first is how much you can put into the machine at once.  If you want to make multiple servings of juice at once without reloading multiple times, make sure to look for a model with an appropriate capacity to meet your needs.  The second capacity issue relates to how much juice can be produced at once, or how big the juice reservoir is.  Again, make sure you get a model that can make as much juice as you want without having to stop and empty a full reservoir into a pitcher multiple times during the process.  Lastly, make sure you know how much pulp your juicer can hold before that receptacle needs emptying.  With some models, all three capacities are pretty equal, allowing you to load the chute and empty juice and pulp just once; others aren’t so equal, so be sure you know any potential model’s limits.

The last thing to understand about a juicer is the motor.  Generally speaking, a more powerful motor will accommodate a larger quantity and variety of produce, separate the juice from the pulp quicker, and give you more juice per piece of produce.  More powerful motors are usually noisier and more expensive than less powerful ones, but tend to be more durable in addition to being more versatile and more efficient.  You can also find models that allow you to choose different settings for different ingredients.

While juicing can’t be considered a true replacement for eating whole fruits and vegetables, it’s definitely a great way to get more of the extra nutrition we all need without the spending extra money on store-bought juices that often come with tons of artificial ingredients.

Visit startjuicing.org for the best wheatgrass juicer ratings, or check out this link.

Nov
20

The Best Coffee Makers We’ve Tried

If you can’t imagine starting your day without a cup of coffee, you already know how important a good coffeemaker is.  If you’ve been thinking it’s time for an upgraded model, maybe even hoping Santa will bring you one this year, finding the best one for you can seem like a big job.  Here are a few of this year’s top contenders in alphabetical order by price range.  Giving any single one a higher rating than the others can be difficult, since we’re not all looking for the exact same functions and features.

Under $150

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  • Among the best drip coffee makers is the Bonavita BV1900TS.  It easily keeps up with the highest-end models, but comes in at roughly a third the cost, with a price tag around $130.
  • If you want cold brewed coffee without the usual hassles that come with convoluted straining contraptions, the Oxo Cold Brew Coffee Maker could be your new best breakfast buddy and is a great bargain at around $50.

$150 to $200

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  • Behmor Brazen Plus is great for those who want ultimate control over their coffee brewing experience.  It allows you to adjust water temperature and pre-brewing soak time.  It also lets you adjust for altitude.  This model retails for around $179.
  • Bunn has been around for a while because they know how to make a great coffee pot.  Their Velocity Brew BT takes just over three and half minutes to turn your favorite beans into your favorite beverage.  The Bunn also sells for about $179.
  • KitchenAid is a company that definitely knows a thing or two about maintaining a presence in the kitchen.  Their super retro-looking Siphon Brewer uses vapor pressure and steam to get your morning started.  The Siphon Brewer will cost you around $170.
  • Many of us recognize Ninja as a top name in the smoothie blender world, but the Ninja Coffee Bar proves they’ve got range beyond fruits and veggies.  This great machine accommodates pretty much any size cup, mug, or carafe you might want to fill.  It can also froth milk and offers lots of brewing modes.  Despite it capabilities, Ninja’s Coffee Bar is also a very affordable top performer at about $155.

Over $300

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  • When it comes to major high-end appearances, the Ratio Eight can’t be beat, with features like hand-blown glass and black walnut wood.  This model uses robotics to replicate the pour-over technique.  The performance and appearance of this model definitely put it in the top cost tier, with a price tag of nearly $600.
  • The Dutch-built Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 looks less like an appliance and more like a work of art.  It’s a fantastic drip brewer with metallic geometric lines that really are eye catching.  And it makes a great pot of coffee.  This imported beauty can be found for just over $300.

Given how important a great pot of coffee is for so many of us, finding a model that makes our mornings a little less tolerable should be at the top of our holiday wish list!

Nov
19

Awesome Home Devices to Make Life Fun and Easy

Tis the season to make your home merry and bright.  In a world full of tech companies vying for your attention, the number of home gadget options is increasing by the day.  If you’re thinking of giving yourself the gift of a smarter home this year, check out a few of this year’s top smart devices.

Lighting devices

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  • The second generation Lifx Color 1000 color-changing bulbs are among the brightest and most efficient.  They offer up to 16 million colors, including 1000 shades of white.  They’ve got one of the easiest to use apps that integrates with Alexa (Amazon’s virtual assistant) and IFTTT.  Unlike some other models, these bulbs don’t require a hub.
  • The Philips Hue Wireless Dimming Kit is affordable and simple, making it a great choice for those just getting started with smart lighting.
  • BeOn offers a security lighting system that can mimic your household’s usual lighting patterns while you’re away.  They also come on automatically when the doorbell rings and work even when the power’s out.
  • Lutron’s Serena Shades won’t come cheap, but offer the best remote controlled window shades.  They can be scheduled to raise or lower or controlled by smartphone app or Siri.

Home security gadgets

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  • One of the best DIY home security systems comes from Scout.  It’s not among the cheapest, but it is highly customizable.
  • August’s second-gen smart deadbolt offers great performance, easy installation, and a Apple HomeKit with support for Siri.
  • SkyBell video doorbell offers 1080p resolution and integrates with Nest, IFTTT, and Alexa.  It also offers free online video storage.
  • In terms of smart carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, Nest Protect offers one of the most feature-packed and best looking models available, though it is on the pricier side.

Baby monitors

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  • If you’re in the market for a smart baby monitor, the iBaby Monitor M6S is one of the best.  You get highest-level streaming resolution whether you’re home or away.
  • Project Nursery offers a video monitor system that includes a mini monitor that can be worn like a wristwatch around the house.

Smart cameras

  • Nest Cam has one of the top-rated indoor cameras.  It features 1080p streaming and a magnetic base that installs easily.
  • The Kuna Toucan outdoor cam offers 2 free hours of cloud storage, an alarm, and a cool look, all at a reasonable price.

Centerpieces

  • The Amazon Echo is one of the best control points for smart home gadgets and includes a voice-activated speaker and virtual assistant, “Alexa.”
  • Belkin’s WeMo Insight Switch can be toggled via your phone.  You can schedule it to come on automatically, use IFTTT to trigger it, and even track its energy usage.

Thermostats

There are quite a few different learning thermostats available, but the third generation of Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat tops them all.

While some smart home gadgets aren’t necessarily budget friendly on the front end, don’t forget to account for potential energy savings, extra peace of mind, and maybe even discounted home insurance premiums.