About a year and a half ago I started following the paleo diet. I know there are a lot of believers and haters. I do it because it works for me and I am healthier than I was without it. For the most part, I really enjoy the foods I can have and don’t feel like I’m giving up much.
Early into going paleo, I learned there are a lot of ways to make foods taste like the traditional versions but without all the unhealthy ingredients we are used to. For example, I now use honey, dates, or figs as sweeteners. I’ve replaced rice with celeriac (that deserves another post) and I use coconut and almond milk instead of cows milk.
However, one of the things I did miss was pasta. It’s not as though I had a ton of pasta in my diet. But it’s an easy meal and a good excuse to have some great sauces. I’m all in for easy and great!
It turns out that the same replacement method is true for pasta. Instead of using grain based pasta, I now use vegetables as pasta. Of course, you need a good gizmo to really do it right!
My first attempt at “noodlizing” vegetables came by way of a gizmo called the Vegettie. I saw it in a store for just $9.99. You use it by placing a vegetable inside of it and twisting. The blade cuts the vegetable into strips like spaghetti. I have to say that it works. But there are a couple of less than perfect features. First, there is a lot of waste because you can’t really get your fingers all the way inside. And you don’t want to get your fingers that close to the blade anyway. It is also hard to fit larger vegetables inside of it.
That led me to try another gizmo. I bought a julienne peeler. This was even less effective, made “noodles” that were way too small and was also a little too dangerous for my tastes.
Finally I ponied up the money for a “spiralizer”. The model I bought costs about $35 so it’s considerably more expensive than the other two. On the other hand, it’s costs a lot less than a traditional pasta maker. Here’s the one I bought:
The spiralizer is excellent! It makes veggie noodles quickly, easily and in three different sizes and shapes. You can get other models that have four blades. As you can see in the pictures of mine below, it has a blade on one side. The other side has a handle that helps hold the vegetable and a crank that spins the vegetable against the blade. The alternate blades to make other shapes are stored underneath. The design allows you to cut the noodles without getting your fingers anywhere near the blade. It makes nice even noodles of your vegetable.
The most popular vegetable noodle is probably zucchini. You’ll see them called “zoodles.” It has almost no flavor other than the sauce you use. Plus, it is soft enough that you can heat it for just a minute or so in the microwave or even use it raw. I think zucchini is fine, but it’s not my favorite.
My favorite veggie noodles are made from firmer vegetables. I particularly like golden beets, jicama, sweet potato and daikon radish. The picture below is a sweet potato. As you can see, one sweet potato makes a large amount of noodles.
My favorite way to cook the noodles is to just sauté them with a little olive oil and herbs. You can throw in some mushrooms, onion, garlic, sun dried tomato, olives or any other extras to your taste. It only takes about 4-5 minutes to cook them perfectly.
If you want something even easier, just put the noodles in a bowl, sprinkle with a little water, cover and microwave for about 60 seconds. Then pour your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce over them and serve. Depending on the sauce you use, it can be a very healthy meal or side dish in under 5 minutes.
One note on using the spiralizer is to be sure to use it on a non-porous surface. It uses little suction cups to hold it in place as you spin the handle. My kitchen has two types of granite. One type is just porous enough that it won’t stick well. Fortunately, the other is perfect.
If you get a spiralizer, I recommend you visit the Inspiralized blog. Ali Maffucci is the queen of spiralizing. I’ve picked up a number of cool tips and recipes from her site.
Easy to use, clean, creates great healthy noodles.
Needs a very smooth, non-porous surface.
This has been one of my very best finds! I love the feeling of having pasta using healthy vegetables.