My experience with the NutriBullet and their Customer “Service” department.

RIP NutriBullet. You will be missed.

UPDATE:  The day I posted this (09/26) I received a call from the NutriBullet folks.  I was told they were shipping me a replacement unit and I would receive it in “7-10 days”.  Giving them the benefit of the doubt I counted only business days and even deducted a day for Columbus Day.  Even with that I’m here at 11 business days and still no NutriBullet.  Over 2 weeks since they called me and exactly ONE MONTH since it died and I first contacted them.  Without a doubt some of the worst customer service I’ve experienced.

UPDATE 2:  Well, I’d really hoped this update would be me saying I got my replacement NutriBullet.  Ummm… no.  I did get an email from them saying that it was shipped on 10/11 via USPS and that they suggest I wait 10-15 days for delivery.  I replied asking them why they told me it was shipped on 09/26, no answer to that yet.  I now officially hate everything my NutriBullet stands for.  I’ll be pushing two months of a dead blender before I get my replacement, that is if they actually shipped it on the 11th.

FINAL UPDATE:  Today is 10/17/12.  After 21 emails, 4 phone calls and 5 weeks I received my replacement parts.  I was told Friday they’d just shipped and replied backing asking them why they told me it shipped on the 26th.  They replied today telling me they were sorry for the delay and hoped to ship it to me soon.  Seems like it’s one huge train wreck over there.  If this thing breaks again I’ll simply throw it away and never look at another NutriBullet again.

——————————————————————————————

Around September 12th my NutriBullet sprung a leak.  I didn’t overload it or misuse it in any way, I followed the same method I had every other morning to make a smoothie, or “NutriBlast” as they call them.  Unfortunately as soon as I started the machine it began to leak, a lot.  I immediately stopped the unit and attempted to clean out all the smoothie in the housing however it had leaked behind a thin plastic shield that I could not get to.  I also noticed when I picked it up that smoothie was leaking out of the bottom of the machine and had formed a nice puddle on my kitchen counter.  I immediately unplugged the unit and tried calling their customer service number.  After working my way through a maze of automated prompts I was told, “Our call queue is currently full, please try your call again later.”  I was busy the rest of the day and the next morning (Sept. 13) decided to send a request for replacement through their website.  I received my first reply from NutriBullet Customer Service the following Monday, Sept. 17.

Here is the text of the email I received:

We are pleased to be of assistance with your request for a replacement Power Base. Now, where did it leak from? Did it leak from where you screw the cup on or from underneath the Blade? If you are getting leaking issues you may need your cup or blade replaced also. Please try different variations of cups and blades to determine if there is another part you need replaced.  The NutriBullet is covered by a 1-year limited warranty from the date of purchase.  If it does not operate to your satisfaction due to defective parts or workmanship, Homeland Housewares will repair or replace it for free (excluding shipping and handling).

Since the purchase was made within 30-days we will waive the shipping and handling fee and promptly ship a replacement(s) at no additional charge. Please confirms if the Base is all you need or another part as well. Also, please reply back with the barcode number underneath your Power Base.

Cool, looks like the issue has been resolved… or so I thought.

I don’t want to ramble on too much so I’ll give a summary of the exchange from there.  At this point I tried the unit (I hadn’t tried it again since the leak) and it would not come on so I replied with details of what happened and told them I tried it with no luck.  A couple days later I get a reply with a list of  more questions, many that I’d already addressed in my first two messages.  I replied again and waited, at this point it had taken a week to get this far.  I received two more emails over the next week and the last one, two days ago, asked more questions and then told me I’d need to call and give them my credit card info to cover shipping – even though their FIRST email to me told me that cost would be waived.  After a couple more emails they asked me to try the unit again, check tabs on the cups, seals on the blades, etc.  I did and after hearing a crunching sound the unit started up, I assume this was breaking the crust of dried smoothie loose before it could be started.  There was a burning smell as well.  Even if the unit worked fine now there is food stuck in it as you can see in the pics below.  There’s no way that can be sanitary.  There’s also condensation in the motor housing after two weeks of not being used.

You can see the food stuck behind a plastic lining in the NutriBullet where it leaked.

I figured to expedite things I’d try calling them again.  This time the phone rang once then I got a busy signal.  I tried a few more times with the same results and emailed them back.  This time I told them that it was ridiculous this should take two weeks to resolve when I was told in the first email it would be replaced without cost, I have not heard back from them again.  Today is two weeks since I first tried to reach them about this.  I attempted to call again today and got the same ring then busy signal.  Amazingly I did manage to eventually get through and waded through the swamp of automated prompts again.  This time once I was in the queue I received a recorded message that said something to the effect of, “Due to extreme demand your hold time will be very substantial, we will hold your place in the queue and call you back.”  I’m still waiting for the call back.

I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that a company that pushes sales so hard totally ignores the importance of customer service.  It shows me what they think of me as a customer, now that they have the sell they could care less.  The volley of emails actually seems like they are trying to delay or avoid replacing my NutriBullet.  I guarantee there’s no shortage of shipments going out to new customers.  I see ads for the NutriBullet everywhere online, I use a site called MyFitnessPal.com for calorie tracking and see their banner ads on there at least a few times a week.

I’ll update this once I see what the end result is or if there are any other developments worthy of mention.  As of right now I would not recommend the NutriBullet based on their lack of service after the sell.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wildcat Creek Trail – #30 from the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

Looking up Wildcat Creek from the bridge

Once a year my dad and I get together for a week.  This past week was my birthday (Wow, I’m 41 now… sheesh) so he came over to Atlanta to spend the week with me.  My dad and I normally get together at the holidays, but that’s with all the family around, we still make sure to squeeze in a week each year for the guys to hang out.

My dad has also started trying to live healthier so I tried to plan our activities here based around being more active rather than what we’ve done in the past, which is to eat everything in sight.   When I suggested a hike to my dad he was game and said he’d like to go somewhere with waterfalls.  I looked around Amicalola Falls area and found a trail I haven’t hiked, I took him to see Amicalola Falls but the trail there would have been to steep for him so we hiked Wildcat Creek Trail first then checked out the falls.  We had a great time but I think my pops got a bit more than he bargained for.

At the trailhead to Wildcat Creek Trail there is a sign showing the blaze colors for the four trails there.  We were taking the Green trail, marked at 1.6 miles just like the book says… this was the last green blaze we saw the whole day.  I’ve discovered that the book is more of a listing of trails rather than a guidebook.  I’ve found many of the trails don’t match up with what’s listed in the book, fees have changed or places that didn’t have fees do now.  At Wildcat Creek we found the state has implemented a pay to access system where you must have a pass or license to access.   The pass is called a GORP Pass (Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass) and is now required in 32 areas across the state.  More info can be found here.

A view across Wildcat Creek

My buddy Brian joined my dad and I and my dog Boo came along as well.  Although we couldn’t find the green trail we didn’t let that stop us.  We followed a trail off into the woods and before long we were doing more trailblazing than hiking.  There was somewhat of a trail around but we spent more time climbing over logs, under limbs and avoiding hidden holes covered with leaves than anything, it was actually quite fun.  Once we came up along Wildcat Creek we followed it back up and ended back at our destination.   In total we did about 1.4 miles, less than we anticipated but I think as far as my dad was concerned that was a good thing.  We found some neat items along the way – a turtle hanging out on the creek bank, a fallen limb that looked as though it had been set up as a torture device and a squirrel’s acorn stash in a hollow log, you could even see where he’d been gnawing on one of the acorns.

The weather was awesome and the hike was fun.  We didn’t get remotely close to the trail as listed in the book but from here on I’m going to consider finding the trailhead to count as me making that hike.  This makes 7 hikes down, 53 to go!  I may detour some from the book as we’re making plans to hike and stay at the Len Foote Hike Inn and also to hike Brasstown Bald (highest point in GA) here in the early fall.  North GA gets some amazing fall colors so we want to get these hikes in soon.

I got the feeling this guy wanted to be left alone.

A squirrel’s winter stockpile, you can see where he was snacking on one of the acorns.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Johnson Ferry Trail – #5 from the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

Look for this in bronze in about 20 years.

Johnson Ferry Trail is my 6th hike from the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta.  I’ve set a personal goal to hike all 60 trails in the book, no time limit but at my current pace I’m on track to finish in about 2 1/2 years.  Hiking through this book is introducing me to a lot of places in metro Atlanta I’d likely never have seen and also showing me what beautiful surroundings we have just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of the city.

My friend Brian and his wife Uma joined me for this hike and I took my dog Boo along as well.  The trail was pretty deserted so I was able to let her off the leash for most of the hike.  Brian quickly learned that Boo’s motto is not “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way“, but simply, “Get the hell out of the way.”  It’s interesting to see how dog’s act sometimes.  She definitely made it known that she intended to lead and in the narrow parts of the trail she would dart left and right trying to pass anyone that got in front of her, at one point she was on Brian’s heels and pushing along as they came up to a spot where the trail split and quickly came back together, she wasted no time in entering the passing lane to regain the lead.  However she paced herself in front of us and if we lagged back too much she’d stop and look back at us to make sure we were still following.  She also stayed right on the trail except for the occasional detour to check out any movement in the leaves.  She’s a pretty sharp pup.

Boo Swimming

Boo managed to get in a quick swim.

Johnson Ferry Trail is a 2.1 mile loop (on the main trail) that follows the banks of the Chattahoochee River.  The trailhead was once home to the Chattahoochee Outdoor Center where thousands of people each weekend would set off in rafts to be picked up at points further south.  Sadly, pollution levels in the river caused the popularity of rafting trips to drop and the Center closed in 2002.   You can still see the buildings and pavilion the enter at the trail’s entrance and there is still a boat ramp available.  However the parking lots are grown over and the ruins of picnic shelters are other structures are scattered in the woods along the trail.

We set off to hike the trail as listed in the book but we ended up taking a left when we should have taken a right at a small sign on the trail and we ended up in some off the beaten path terrain.  This was actually the most enjoyable part of the hike with the trail winding in and out of the riverbed and up and down some hills.  Most of the riverbed is smooth rock scattered with larger chunks of rocks with small pools throughout.  At a couple of bends in the stream there were larger pools and Boo took advantage of these to get in a quick swim.  To check out this part of the trail take the left fork at the small sign located about 1 mile along the trail as measured from the parking fee collection box, there is a $3.00 per vehicle fee to park.   The trail here is less worn but noticeable however the further back you go the more it becomes overgrown.  After hiking about 3/4 mile up we decided to turn back as it wasn’t clear where the trail went from there.

GPS Map of Johnson Ferry Trail

Take a left at the red arrow for a bit more scenic and challenging hike.

The main part of the trail is enjoyable but nothing exciting.  It’s a nice and very easy hike with some great views of the Chattahoochee River.  There were a couple of benches on the trail on the return leg where you could sit and look out over the river.  There were also a couple areas where you could get down to the banks of the river if you wanted to do some fishing.  The water here moves along fairly quickly so this isn’t a place to toss a pole in and sit back, you’ll have to stay active to fish here.  There were also a few people fishing along the river in small boats and canoes.

If you want a super easy hike with the option to add in a bit of interesting terrain then this would fit the bill.  Total hike for us came to 3.62 miles but would have been 2.1 as stated in the book if we’d stayed on the marked path.  Our total hiking time was right at 2 hours.  As mentioned before there is a $3.00 parking fee at the facility, there is an upper parking lot just off Johnson Ferry and a lower parking lot closer to the trailhead, the fee collection box is in the upper parking lot.  There are restrooms and a covered picnic area at the trailhead and if you want to drop in a canoe or even a larger boat there is a ramp available.  That makes six down now, only 54 more to go!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Healthier Shepherd’s Pie

I. Love. Shepherd’s Pie.  The stuff has all the making of an awesome and hearty meal – meat, potatoes, veggies in a PIE!  Damn.

Buuuut, I’m trying to get fitter not fatter so I had to go to the lab with this one and try to tweak it to make it healthier.  The end result was the best Shepherd’s Pie I have ever made with a 33% drop in calories from a traditional recipe.  I used two main tricks to accomplish this, using creamy mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes and using extra lean ground beef.  Plus, I really loaded the veggies up instead of having a small layer you end up with about 50/50 meat to veggie ratio.

So here’s how you do it…

Healthier Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 6

Ingredients

Mmmmm…. pie.

1 lb lean ground beef (93/7)
¼ yellow onion, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup beef broth
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 cup small lima beans (pre-cooked or canned)
1 cup sweet peas (pre-cooked or canned)
1 cup sliced carrots (pre-cooked or canned)
1 medium head cauliflower
2 oz low fat cream cheese
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Spray a heated pan with cooking spray, set heat to medium and saute onions until soft then add ground beef and cook until it’s almost done.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook until beef and mushrooms are done.

Stir corn starch into cold beef broth making sure the corn starch is thoroughly mixed into the broth.  Pour the broth slowly into the pan of ground beef and stir continuously until hot.  Once heated it will start to thicken, you can add a bit more broth to thin the mixture or a bit more broth and starch to thicken.  You want the sauce to be very thick, but not pasty.  Add lima beans, carrots and peas to the beef mixture and cook until heated.  Add a generous amount of black pepper to the mixture and place on low to keep warm

To make the creamy mashed cauliflower:  Clean and cut the head of cauliflower into small florets.  Cook in salted, boiling water for 15 minutes or until fork tender.  Do not overcook as the cauliflower will be mushy.  Drain and place into a mixing bowl.  Add the garlic, low fat cream cheese and Parmesan and mix with hand mixer until smooth.  Taste to see if additional salt or garlic is needed.

Pour beef mixture into a casserole dish and spread into an even layer.  Top with the creamy mashed cauliflower spreading that into an even layer covering all the beef mixture.  You may add additional grated Parmesan, ground pepper or parsley to the the top prior to baking.  Place in preheated 400F oven for 30 minutes.  Remove and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Tips, tricks and shortcuts

  • You can use any mix of vegetables you like for this.  If you don’t like lima beans, don’t use them.  Some people use corn, some simply the peas and carrots.
  • Do yourself a favor and get some REAL Parmesan cheese, not the stuff in a shaker can but a block of the real deal.  It will actually last longer as the flavor is much more intense so a little goes a long way.
  • The creamy mashed cauliflower makes a great side dish on its own.  Also, the cauliflower recipe is not my own, I found it on a Google search.

BASIC NUTRITION INFO (per serving)

Prepare to be amazed…

HEALTHIER VERSION
Calories: 257
Carbohydrates: 22 grams
Fat: 8 grams Fat: 21 grams
Protein: 24 grams
Fiber: 7 grams

ORIGINAL VERSION (WITH POTATOES & GROUND CHUCK)
Calories : 433
Carbohydrates: 38 grams
Protein: 21 grams
Fiber: 6 grams

I was really impressed with how this turned out.  The bit of cream cheese in the cauliflower really helps to nail the consistency that makes mashed potatoes so damn good.   Since the veggies are mixed in with the meat and sauce mixture they have a ton of flavor as well, this one is a winner.  I guarantee you will like this recipe or I’ll send you a link to someone else’s recipe… you have my word on that.

If you try this recipe please let me know what you thought!  If you have any awesome ideas to make it healthier or more awesome please feel free to share those, too.

Click here for printer-friendly version.

Shepherd’s Pie fresh out of the oven.

Cheatham Hill Trail at Kennesaw Mountain – #16 from the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

View from the top of Kennesaw Mountain with Atlanta in the distance.

Once again I hit a trail that not only gave me a good hike (5.6 miles) but also was chock full of history.  As I mentioned before in my post about hiking #14 – Allatoona Pass, I love a hike that has historic value, especially Civil War era and there’s no shortage of that in the Atlanta area.  Cheatham Hill is inside Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park and is one of several you can choose from covering a rather large area.  This trail was 5.6 miles and is, amazingly, the first trail I’ve hiked that match up with what the book said.

First, a little history… The battle at Kennesaw Mountain lasted from June 19 to July 2, 1864 with a total of 5,350 casualties between the Union and Confederacy.  The heaviest fighting took place on June 27, 1864.   The hiking trails throughout the battlefield cross through many historic sites and the ruins of the encampments there.  The Confederate troops were camped all over the mountain with the Federal troops scattered around the base.

I met up at the visitors’ center with my friend Brian and before heading out to hike we checked  out the visitor’s center museum and took the shuttle bus up to the top of Kennesaw Mountain.  You can hike to the top, that hike is The Burnt Hickory Loop #19 in the book, and the most difficult hike of the 60.   I hiked some light trails at the top of the mountain and took a few pics from the top before heading back down to hike.  If you are in the area to hike any of the trails and have not been before, the visitors’ center and mountain top are worth checking out.  We went on Labor Day and they were having artillery demonstrations so I also got to hear a presentation on the use of cannons and see them fire one a couple times.  Very cool to see but those bums wouldn’t let me shoot it.  Whatever.

After checking out the history we drove to the trailhead as it’s a few miles from the visitors’ center.  Almost immediately after hitting the trail you come to some earthworks with two cannons on display, a little further and you come to the Illinois Monument.  After the monument there are a few more historical markers but from here on it it’s mostly your basic hiking trail.  I’m assuming Mr. and Mrs. Golden (the book’s authors) are in better shape than I am as on a couple occasions they’ve ranked trails as easy that I would say are moderate difficulty.  To me an “easy” trail is going to be simple flatlands where the Cheatham Hill Trails does have a nice scattering of moderate hills.  My buddy agreed with me that he would rate this as moderate.

I really enjoyed this trail.  It had some great scenery with a mix of heavy tree cover with narrow trails, wide trails through lush fields, streams/creeks and and decent hills.  There was also a decent amount of flora and fauna to see with lots of unusual mushrooms, insects (lots of spiders, which I thought was cool), squirrels and chipmunks and I’m sure others.  One note, this trail allows horses on it and that is very obvious but the massive amounts of horse poop on the trails, I mean seriously a lot of poop.  I don’t know how many horses it would take to poop that much but my guess would be around 850.  No but seriously, there was a lot of poop on the trail.

Huge mushroom along the trail at Cheatham Hill. One Brian included for scale.

We chugged along at a pretty good pace and thankfully there was a strategically placed water fountain about 3/4 of the way through the trail.  Speaking of that, make sure to take plenty of water and maybe some GORP or energy bars and charge up your cell phone or GPS before heading out – this hike took right at 3 hours.  The pace of flatlands and hills is just enough to keep your blood pumping without overworking those that are in less than stellar shape.  At one point Brian wanted to throw a rock at a young lady who ran by us at the end of the trail and up a hill just as we were dragging ourselves up it with out last bit of energy… I just barely talked him out of it.

As I type this up I realize how much I enjoyed this trail.  It’s never boring as there’s such a variety of history and nature to check out and it gives you a good workout.  I definitely recommend this hike.  Pack a light bag with water and a camera and go enjoy a great day hiking.  This is my favorite hike of done so far.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.