We recently caught up with blogger and cookbook author Ali Maffucci of Inspiralized to chat about all things spiralized, what it’s like to make the transition from blogger to cookbook writer, late-night snacks and her new book, Inspiralized — a big hit with our customers and our staff!
How did you first get into spiralizing?
My mother actually first discovered zucchini noodles and then had me over one night to try them in March of 2013. I was so amazed by how it tasted just like regular pasta that I literally took her spiralizer back to my apartment that night and the next night, I started spiralizing. The rest is history!
Was it hard to work spiralizing into your routine?
Not at all — there are so many vegetables and fruits that can be spiralized (over 24!), so you can pretty much incorporate spiralized vegetables easily into every meal.
Do you spiralize something for every meal, or just when you can?
It depends! I spiralize nearly every single day for the blog, but on the days that I don’t cook for the blog, I usually take a night off and go out. It’s hard to stay away from a spiralized meal — spiralizing is so quick and easy. I don’t spiralize much for breakfast during the weekdays, but I do on the weekends!
How do you feel now that you’ve added more vegetables and fruits to your diet?
Fantastic! Since committing to a consistent exercise regimen and spiralizing at least once a day, I’ve lost 30 pounds! My skin glows, I’m more energized and I’m never hungry — always nourished and satisfied.
What are some of your favorite recipes from your cookbook and why?
Definitely my Bikini Bolognese and my Grape Leaves Casserole. The Bikini Bolognese is an example of a classic, indulgent Italian pasta dish made into something lighter and better for your body. The Grape Leaves Casserole shows truly how versatile spiralizing is — it’s a rice casserole, made from spiralized celeriac — and it tastes absolutely incredible. It’s one of my most surprising recipes.
Did you ever try spiralizing something and it just failed miserably?
Yes, eggplant. I really wanted eggplant to work, but because of its spongy, seeded flesh, it won’t spiralize.
How was writing your cookbook different from writing your blog?
With the blog, I have so many opportunities to present my audience with new recipes, so if one doesn’t work for someone one day, the next day it might. With the book, I tried to make the recipes as universally appealing to all types of eaters. With this, I had to consciously divide up the recipes by type of vegetable, because I wanted to truly show the versatility and creativity that spiralizing offers.
What are some of your favorite kitchen items? The ones you can’t imagine cooking without?
Definitely a food processor — it’s a must in my kitchen. A food processor allows you to make your own dressings and sauces, which is important in a healthy kitchen. I always make my own pestos, which really can’t be done without a food processor! Other than that, I love grill pans for cooking meats and a wok for when I’m cooking more than two spiralized veggies. A basic skillet won’t cut it; you need something with more space.
What are some of the essentials always stocked in your pantry?
Spices! I think the healthiest, easiest way to add great flavor to meals is with spices. I definitely splurge on spices, but they last for a long time and they’re so easy to cook with, it’s worth the investment. With a few pinches of a certain spice, you can transport yourself to different cultures. For example, a pinch of oregano and you’re in Italy, but with a pinch of ground cumin you’re in India.
What’s your favorite thing to eat for a late-night snack or a guilty pleasure?
I’m a big fan of frozen grapes, sea salt popcorn and bananas with almond butter. If I’m really indulging, I can’t say no to a gooey chocolate chip cookie.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in the last few weeks?
I had an appetizer at a restaurant near my apartment in Jersey City called Bistro La Source. I ordered the Grilled Spanish Octopus with Lamb Merguez Sausage. It came served with an amazing cucumber, celery and chickpea salad. It was outstanding!
So what’s next for you?
I have a few tricks up my sleeve! Right now, I’m working on my own product, the Inspiralizer, but I’m also really trying to focus on growing my presence and reaching new people. There are so many people who don’t know about spiralizing and that blows my mind — everyone should know about it. It’s the best!
Thanks, Ali! If you want to try spiralizing — or are already a devotée — here’s a simple recipe Ali shared with us that has summer picnic written all over it:
Reprinted with permission from Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci, copyright © 2015. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House LLC.