One of the hottest trends in the food world right now is "spiralized" vegetables. I will confess that I am a bit suspicious of any diet or food fad that eliminates an entire food group for anything other than physician-ordered health reasons, but something really good has followed in the wake of the Atkins/paleo/gluten-free movements.
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There is little question that healthier eating means, as Michael Pollan says in In Defense of Food (now a wonderful show on PBS), "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
But adding more fresh vegetables and fruits to your diet can be a real challenge, particularly if you have a family to feed. Spiralized veggies (or "voodles") can add interest and fun to the task of expanding your intake of plants, as well as subbing for some of the less healthy foods like pasta.
There are several kinds of spiralizers on the market right now, from mixer attachments to horizontal and vertically-oriented standalone versions. Check out the in-depth reviews below for each to figure out which one will best suit your needs!
Pros: This attachment has a great rating on Amazon: 76% of a large pool of reviewers gave it 5 stars. The KitchenAid Spiralizer Attachment is touted as being sturdy and easy to use, as well as producing beautiful, uniform spirals. The attachments are said to be easy to swap out, and they are all dishwasher-safe even if the motorized "base" itself is not.
Cons: This is easily the most expensive in the lot, if for no other reason than you have to have a stand mixer to which to attach it. Some reviewers claim that some of the attachments/parts are a bit less sturdy than others, and there is no question that it occupies a lot of real estate both in its box and on your counter. That said, if you already have a stand mixer, it is not going to add to the space that takes up.
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Try this: Because of its capacity for peeling and slicing apples, this would be the perfect tool with which to adapt this French apple tart from Roots of Taste.
Pros: This manual, countertop spiralizer generally comes in models with 3, 4, or 5 blades that resemble something like a guillotine for veggies and fruits. It is available at a variety of price points, including this versatile, mid-priced model from Paderno that is the best seller (and has an average rating of 4.5 stars) in Amazon's "Mandolines & Slicers" category. Blades not in use are stored on the machine itself—which makes them harder to lose!—and they are all top-rack, dishwasher safe.
Cons: Users note that you have to be particularly careful that the ends of the veggie or fruit you are spiralizing have to be very flat. So though it claims to work on tiny vegetables like radishes, more of the onus is on you to properly prep them. Because these are generally made of white plastic and the base is only hand-washable, some staining may occur with beets and other colorful vegetables/fruit.
Try this: Because beets naturally have wider ends that are easy to cut flat (and they wouldn't fit into the handheld models), they would be the perfect vegetable to use with this type of spiralizer. This beet "voodle" salad from Stony Hill Farms' CSA sounds as delicious as it is beautiful!
Pros: The most impressive aspect of vertical spiralizers is the lack of food waste the vertical design allows and the ease of use and cleaning. The Brieftons model also receives praise for the fact that the blades don't need to be changed out: different cuts are made with the turn of a knob. Users rave about this specific model, giving it 74% 5-star ratings.
Cons: Some users are stymied by the fact that they have to both push down and turn the crank to produce "voodles," and a few mention that more slippery veggies (cucumbers, for example) can slide out of place too easily. Other complaints echo those with the similar, horizontal model, including the fact that the ends of your vegetables or fruit need to be very evenly cut off in order to get perfect spirals.
Try this: I would be remiss if I didn't include a recipe for something using "zoodles," the zucchini noodles that really started the whole spiralizer craze. This recipe for turkey bolognese with voodles from Katie Lee via The Kitchen TV show keeps the sauce light and healthy as well.
Pros: These spiralizers strike the balance between versatility and a lower price point (albeit some of the pricier tools in this category cost about the same as the other non-motorized ones I've already noted). Users note its simplicity and the fact that the pronged cap feature may lead to fewer wasted "leftover ends." Its small size makes it easy to store, and several of these types of spiralizers—such as the Kitchen-nv— house the small blades in the tool itself. Also notable is the fact that many of them come with a separate vegetable peeler.
Cons: To be fair, these vary widely across reviews, leading me to believe that the primary drawbacks of this type of spiralizer may be either the quality of the tool itself and/or user error. In fact, the only recurring criticism of the aforementioned Kitchen-nv model was that it did not include instructions. Denunciations of other handheld spiralizers include the fact that they do not provide as much variety in type or thickness of slices as their pricier brethren and that they are difficult to clean.
Try this: Serena of Domesticate Me blog waxes poetic about the beautiful and healthy carrot salad with herbs and toasted almonds she made when she "unearthed" her spiralizer.
Pros: This simplest of all slicers is also the least expensive. Having been around longer than the other tools mentioned in this article, it has garnered far more reviews—almost all of which are positive. In fact, the UberChef Premium Julienne Peeler has over 2,000 reviews of which 84% are 5-star! Users point to its ease of use and the speed with which one can julienne large quantities of vegetables and fruits.
Cons: Even in the most positive reviews, users mentioned how sharp the blades are on this peeler. Many noted that you would need to store it where small (or large) hands fishing around in a drawer couldn't inadvertently slice themselves. The simplicity of this tool makes it the most fallible in the face of user error, and numerous reviewers cautioned that you needed to apply just the right amount of pressure to the peeler in order to get an even julienne. It is also noteworthy that this does not produce spiral cuts unless the peeler is positioned and maneuvered a certain way.
Try this: Blogger Kristin at Tastefully Gluten Free makes a gorgeous sweet potato mac and cheese that doesn't conflict with her celiac disease, yet allows non-celiac members of her family to enjoy the meal as well.
The possibilities for using "voodles" in recipes that would normally use pasta are limited only by your imagination and willingness to experiment. Likewise, you can make snacks more fun using spiral-cut apples or pears; I mean, what kid wouldn't want a fruit salad that looks like a bowl full of Slinkys?
We're eager to hear about your ventures into the world of spiralizing, so please share your tips in the comments below.