Why the Spiralizer is the Healthiest Kitchen Tool You Could Own
Ali Maffucci, author of the new book 'Inspiralized,' breaks down what you need to know about the gadget and shares a delicious pasta recipe.
A look at Ali Maffucci's Instagram feed will have you salivating in seconds, thanks to its rainbow assortment of creative dishes made using a spiralizer. It's hard to believe that so much can be done solely with vegetables but Maffucci, the blogger behind Inspiralized, has built a huge following of readers by making healthy eating accessible and, dare we say, fun. From rice made out of broccoli to spaghetti made from zucchinis, she has introduced such innovative recipes. Today, she shares more in the launch of her new book, Inspiralized ($13). We got a chance to speak with the new author about how you can get started spiralizing and why it will do your body good.
For those unfamiliar, how would you describe what spiralizing is?
"Spiralizing is the act of turning vegetables into noodles, using a spiralizer. That’s the basic definition. With those noodles, you can cook deliciously, creatively and healthfully by using those spiralized vegetables in recipes for pastas, noodles, buns, rice dishes, casseroles, salads, wraps, breakfasts, sides, appetizers and even desserts!"
What are the health benefits of spiralizing?
"The great thing about spiralizing is that each vegetable comes with its own health benefits. For example, if you're spiralizing a sweet potato, you're loading up on iron and Vitamin C, helping bolster our immune systems. If you're spiralizing a beet, you're fighting inflammation and lowering your blood pressure. Vegetables, in general, lower our cholesterol and keep our bodies functioning at optimal levels. In general, replacing processed, glutinous pasta and noodles with vegetables allows us to eat a cleaner, more wholesome diet."
What tips do you have for those new to spiralizing?
"I'd say to start with spiralizing the 'easier' vegetables, like zucchini and simply 'inspiralize' their favorite pasta or noodle dish. For example, if you love bolognese, prepare the meat sauce as you would and place it over zucchini noodles. This way, you're making something familiar with a healthy twist."
What vegetables do you suggest starting out with?
"Zucchini, cucumbers, apples, pears and soft white-fleshed potatoes, such as red potatoes."
When and why did you start Inspiralized?
"In the winter of 2013, my mother was trying raw veganism to help regulate her blood sugar levels, as a Type 1 diabetic. With this, she discovered the spiralizer after dining at a raw vegan restaurant in NYC with me. She bought it and in March 2013, she invited me over for a raw spiralized dinner. Immediately, I was hooked—the zucchini noodles she made tasted just like regular pasta, I couldn’t believe it. Of course, I thought that it would taste even more pasta-like if I cooked the noodles and topped it with warm sauces and proteins. I took it home that evening and the next day, I made a simple shrimp and tomato basil zucchini noodle dish for my then-boyfriend—now fiancé—and me. He put his fork down and had the same reaction as I had had—he jokingly said, 'You should quit your job and build a community around this.' Two months later, on June 25, 2013, after experimenting and having so much fun with the spiralizer and building up the courage, I quit my job and the next day, I started inspiralized.com without a business plan, just a passion for spiralized cooking and a strong desire to help others learn to cook healthfully. I wanted to create a community around something I felt was so exciting. I wanted to provide that same level of excitement to others!"
What has been the most exciting part about running such a popular blog?
"The feedback from people who have started spiralizing because of me. Every day, I look forward to waking up and reading the messages from people who feel their lives have become healthier, thanks to Inspiralized. It's so rewarding to be able to help people become healthier and more inspired. I couldn't do what I'm doing without the loyal support and encouragement from my readers—they're the best!"
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
"Aside from the fact that the spiralizer is the healthiest kitchen tool? [I hope readers learn] that eating healthfully and nutritiously doesn't have to mean saying goodbye to your favorite meals—you can still eat a big bowl of ramen, but now, those ramen noodles are made of daikon radish instead of processed wheat noodles. Spiralizing is a win-win!"
Now that you've got the basics, try this recipe straight from the book!
Vegan Celeriac Alfredo with Broccolini
"This vegan alfredo has a go-to sauce that works with any vegetable pasta. In this version, the earthy taste of the celeriac noodles, the warm tenderness of the broccolini and the alfredo consistency from the cauliflower encapsulate everything Inspiralized is about: eating nutritious and energizing food. You’ll feel like you’re in Italy, twisting forkfuls of a creamy bowl of indulgence."
Makes: 4 servings
Time to prepare: 20 minutes
Time to cook: 20 minutes
Florets from 1 small to medium cauliflower
2 bunches broccolini, about 1 inch of tough stems trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 cups vegetable broth
1½ tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 large celeriac knobs, peeled, spiralized with Blade C
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1. Place the cauliflower florets in a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and cook for five to seven minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon.
2. With the water still boiling, add the broccolini and cook for two minutes or until firm-tender. Fill a medium bowl with ice cubes. Drain the broccolini and immediately place in the ice water to stop the cooking. Pat dry and then slice off the florets. Chop the stems into 1-inch pieces.
3. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add one garlic clove and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the shallots and cook for two to three minutes or until translucent. Transfer to a high-speed blender or large food processor, and add the cauliflower, the vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, mustard and lemon juice. Generously season with salt and pepper and blend the sauce until creamy, about one minute.
4. Return the broccolini pot to medium heat and add the remaining one tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the remaining garlic and the red pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add the broccolini florets and stems. Add the celeriac noodles. Season generously with salt and pepper, cover, and cook for five to seven minutes, tossing occasionally, until the celeriac noodles are al dente. Transfer the celeriac noodles and vegetables to a serving bowl.
5. Place a medium skillet over medium-low heat and add the cauliflower sauce. Simmer to heat through, at least five minutes. Stir in the parsley, then pour the sauce over the noodles. Toss to combine and serve warm.
Note: It’s essential to lightly boil the broccolini first to minimize its bitterness. A quick blanch will highlight its robust, grassy and slightly sweet flavor.