Going crazy for zoodles

Search the term “zoodles,” and instantly more than one million references come up for the funky faux noodles that are taking the culinary world by storm.

In a nutshell, zoodles are basically vegetables peeled, grated, “mandolined” into strands that look and feel like pasta noodles. So you CAN have your spaghetti AND eat it too – without carbs or gluten or all those other pesky things that can make some meals a guilty pleasure.

The trend started a few years ago when foodies took zucchini and used a variety of kitchen tools to create spiral-shaped zucchini strands. Voila – the zucchini noodle, or the zoodle!

Today, an entire cottage industry of zoodle gadgets (referred to as “spiralizers”) has sprung up, allowing chefs to turn essentially any vegetable, and even some fruits, into zoodles. And the recipes quickly followed.

Again, Google “zoodle recipes” and you’ll have your choice of thousands of zoodle-themed meals – most with the tag line “The Best of…” attached. Who knew there were so many ways to use vegetable noodles, from scampi, to stir fry, to chicken zoodle soup?

And it’s just not boiled and covered in sauce where zoodles shine – although there are plenty of recipes with lots of combinations beyond tomato sauce and cheese to keep you busy for years. Innovative chefs have turned zoodles into taco shells, “meat” balls, French fries, and many other creative spins on the lowly squash.

As the trend in clean eating takes hold, the popularity of zoodle-based meals is gaining ground. The benefits abound – vegan, vegetarian, low-fat, low-sodium, low-calorie, grain-free, and allows you to get your daily dose of vegetables in a tasty way.

For people trying to lose weight, zoodles are a great substitute for a pile of pasta noodles. To take in the same calories as one cup of grain-based pasta, you would have to consume five cups of zoodles! And zoodles also are much lower on the glycemic index, a huge plus for people who need help maintaining the right sugar levels.

So what can you run through a spiralizer? Basically any fruit or vegetable that does not have a core or pit (sorry peaches), is not hollow (pumpkins need not apply), isn’t squishy (think tomato), and is long enough to produce spirals (bye-bye Brussel sprouts). But just about everything else can be converted into zoodles with the right tool and mindset.

For more information on what is best “zoodled” visit http://inspiralized.com/the-complete-reference-guide-to-spiralizing-vegetables/

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