Spiralizing Goodness

By Laura Schmidt, RD, LD

Spiralizing is a new way to eat healthy. It’s making “noodles” out of any and every vegetable, from zucchini to beets to carrots. It’s a simple process to transform produce into long, thin noodles or wide, curly pasta-like ribbons that would be challenging to duplicate by hand.

How do you do it? With a spiralizer, a small kitchen utensil that easily makes noodles and ribbons out of peeled vegetables and fruits. The results can be used in a wide range of recipes from homemade onion rings to veggie noodle salads.

Who would have thought zucchini noodles could taste so good??

Spiralizing is a way to eat more nutritiously, but still enjoy Italian, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Cuban, or American flavors and cuisines. Spiralizing can be used not only to re-create noodle and rice dishes but also to make everyday meals more interesting, writes Ali Maffucci, author of “Inspiralize Everything”. “And when you spiralize, you’ll impress yourself and friends with what comes out of your kitchen,” she says.

For a vegetable or fruit to qualify as spiralizable, and for best results, the vegetable or fruit must be:

1. without a tough pit or an interior with large, tough seeds

2. at least 1 ½ inches in diameter and at least 2 inches in length

3. not be soft or juicy inside – starting with firm, fresh produce is key

The texture of carrots, jicamas, parsnips, beets, and potatoes makes them perfect for spiralizing, but you can also use seedless cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, apples, and firm pears. Eggplant does not work as well because of its spongy flesh.

To spiralize veggies, slice off the ends of the vegetable so it is flat and even. If the outer skin is inedible, peel it before spiralizing. If your produce exceeds 6 inches in length, halve it. Before tossing noodles with a sauce, pat them dry with paper towels so your sauce maintains its thick consistency. When cooking noodles, simmer or stir-fry them so the veggies remain crisp-tender and hold their shape.

Most veggies can be spiralized in bulk and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. To keep parsnips and potatoes from turning brown, cover them with water and add a squeeze of lemon before storing.

What do you do with sprialized veggies or fruits? Use them in a salad, in place of regular pasta, in soups or stews, pasta salads, casseroles or baked dishes. Spiralized noodles can also be enjoyed in the form of a bun, which can be used as the base for sandwiches, as burger buns, as miniature pizzas or simply on their own.

Here is an astounding recipe to get you started:

Sweet Potato Carbonara with Kale

Serves 4 (about 1 3/4 cups each)

All you need:

2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled

3 Hy-Vee large eggs, beaten

1 cup Hy-Vee grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper, plus more for serving

1 tbsp Hy-Vee Select extra-virgin olive oil

3 strips center-cut bacon, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups chopped kale

All you do:

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil.

2. Using a spiral vegetable slicer or a julienne or regular vegetable peeler, cut sweet potatoes lengthwise into long, thin strands. You should have about 12 cups of sweet potato “noodles.”

3. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook, very gently, stirring once or twice, until just starting to soften but not completely tender, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain. Return the noodles to the pot, off the heat. Add the reserved water, eggs, Parmesan, salt and pepper; gently toss with tongs until evenly coated.

4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until crisp. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add kale and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the kale mixture to the noodles and gently toss to combine. Serve topped with a generous grinding of pepper.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 431 calories, 16g fat, 6g saturated fat, 163mg cholesterol, 718mg sodium, 54g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 13g sugars, 23g protein.

Daily values: 989% vitamin A, 317% vitamin C, 51% calcium, 25% iron.

The information is not intended as medical advice.

Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Laura Schmidt is a registered dietitian representing Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.