Q&A: Tess Masters, aka Blender Girl

May 12 2014, 10:30 AM

Anson Smart © 2014

Tess Masters, aka Blender Girl, has been known to put just about anything in a blender, but she also has a sense of humor. When I asked the internet sensation for her take on the popular video series Will It Blend, which mixes everything from Justin Bieber CDs to iPhones, she replied, "It's a bit of fun, isn't it? And blending and food should be fun!" Far from prescribing any hard and fast rules about diet, she encourages readers of her popular new cookbook, appropriately titled The Blender Girl, to play with their food. 5280 caught up with Masters before her arrival in Denver on Saturday, May 17, where she'll appear at the Le Creuset store on Fillmore Plaza at 1 p.m., and later at Williams-Sonoma at Aspen Grove at 4 p.m. She'll sign copies of her book and demonstrate recipes.

5280: How did you get started blending?

Tess Masters: I've always loved smoothies—they're impossible to screw up, the ingredients are flexible, and everyone likes them, even kids. But when I was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus I became convinced that the way to manage that was to take my health into my own hands. Food is medicine, and I dabbled in all kinds of health food diets. One day my dad sat me down and asked whether I was having fun with all these restrictions, and I knew I had to leave fad diets behind and develop my own way of doing things. I started researching bio-individuality, the idea that every body is different and every person has different dietary needs. I focused on that instead of the so-called “perfect” diet.

5280: What are the health benefits of blending?

TM: Blending is a great way to get lots of alkaline and whole foods into your diet with very little time or effort. It goes far beyond smoothies. Smoothies are a great entry point, but blending can offer so much more. Unless you have the lifestyle of a panda, it can be hard to get enough leafy greens into your diet with such a limited amount of time. But you can blend alkaline-rich foods with lots of nutrients into smoothies, soups, sauces, and get a lot of health benefits from them. Blending for me is about more than just food, it's really more like my whole philosophy on life. I love mixing cultures, flavors, and foods. The message behind the cookbook is “What's your perfect blend?” and it became a theme: the recipes can be tweaked to taste and have optional ingredients, so each person can do what works for them.

5280: Do I need any special equipment? Must I have a top-of-the-line blender to make the recipes in your book?

TM: No, any blender you have will work. The only other things you need are a knife, a cutting board, and measuring cups. I had 65 recipe testers around the world testing the recipes, using everything from entry-level machines to top-of-the-line machines. We used ingredients that are budget-conscious. We also used kids as both tasters and preparers of the recipes to make sure they were simple to make. It wouldn't make it into the book without being foolproof. The idea was to give people a blank canvas for inspiration, celebrate whole foods, and get maximum nutrition by giving people ideas. They can do what works for them, and tailor it to their needs and tastes, and still get the benefits of healthy food, fast.

5280: What advice do you have for people who are just getting started with blending or adding whole foods to their diet?

TM: Time is our most precious commodity, but that doesn't mean we have to eat things that are nutritionally barren, like processed foods. Put healthful foods into a blender and take your health into you own hands. The possibilities are endless: dips, cocktails, soups, smoothies, juices, even things that bring value and flavor to a textured meal.

5280: What would you tell people who may find some of the ingredients you use unfamiliar or intimidating?

Tess Masters: I tried to make the book very accessible with ingredients that are available at a mainstream grocery store. The recipes are very forgiving, many times ingredients can be omitted, whether for taste, availability, or budgetary reasons. You can't screw these recipes up, so be bold and experiment, and change them to your liking.

Bonus: Masters shares one of her favorite recipes from the book, her speedy, flavorful version of raspberry jam (pictured).

All But Instant Raspberry Jam

Makes 2 cups (500g)

1/4 cup (60ml) coconut water

1/2 cup (85g) firmly packed chopped pitted dates

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 cups (320g) fresh raspberries (frozen don’t work well)

Natural liquid sweetener

Pour the coconut water into your blender and add the dates. Blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until the dates have broken up. Scrape down the sides of the container, then add the chia seeds and one‑half of the raspberries. Pulse on low a few times, just to break up the berries. Add the remaining raspberries and pulse a few times on low to get a thick, chunky consistency. If the jam is too tart, stir in liquid sweetener to taste. Go easy, or the jam will get runny.

Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes—the chia seeds will thicken the jam and the flavors will develop.

The jam will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days