I have a problem and it begins with P…
No, not pins and needles, not pimples (well, occasionally) and not paranoia (why, should I?)
Yep, it's pasta.
That durum wheat delight, how fitting that my only love should spring from my only hate! You filled the abyss in my stomach and pulled me out of those cataclysmic hangovers but you also made me fat, goddamnit!
Apart from having very limited reserves of self control, the other issue is that I’m a vegetarian. Meaning there is literally nothing else for me to eat.
Take your pick of restaurants – most of them will sadistically have five meat options and good old penne pasta for me.
My weekly supermarket shop will typically yield an optimistic bag of rocket, perhaps a slab of tofu, and of course, ye olde favourite pasta. Sometimes I even buy it in a tin (yes I am horrible).
I suppose there's always rice. Or noodles. Or bread. But quite simply, carbs and me don’t mix and I am rarely satisfied with a salad.
So it looked as if me and my old friend pasta were set to waddle off into the sunset together, full, dazed and very heavy.
Until now. For behold: I have found a contraption which will craft me a version of the Italian noodle that is actually good for me.
Yes, you read that right.
Meet the spiralizer, a kitchen gadget which has taken America by storm and has finally deigned to grace our shores.
Note that it is not from that slightly intimidating stable of cool, chrome, gizmos with more buttons than you have fingers.
Rather, it looks like it would have been featured on the back of Readers Digest circa 1982 and yet it has literally changed my life.
The basic premise is the spiralizer (or Spiralite for accuracy’s sake) will “spiralise” (or slice/ shred) vegetables into ribbons, noodles, chips, rings or twists.
See that courgette? BAM: It’s now a plate of courgette spaghetti.
Now here comes the science bit: According to online calculations, a 125g portion of raw courgette spaghetti contains 21 calories and less than 4g of carbohydrate.
Let's compare this with 346 calories and 64g of carbohydrate for ordinary spaghetti… Seriously, need I say more?
It’s easy, quick and FUN to use: Remember the Play Doh Spaghetti Factory? It’s like that and in this case you're allowed to eat the stuff. You simply mount your chosen vegetable on a blunt spike and cheerfully grind it into plumes of colourful ribbons.
What’s more, once you swap that pasta for courgette spaghetti, the world is quite frankly your oyster. Treat it like the real stuff: add crème fraiche, pesto, slather it in cheese. Fry it. Boil it. Steam it. Wear it. Make loads and store it in the fridge - it will keep. Take it to work - two minutes in a microwave with a splash of water is all it needs.
I've been using this device for a fortnight now and I feel incredible. I no longer need a nap after every meal. I don't experience the heavy, almost drugged sensation I'd typically suffer after coming from work late and cramming some pasta in a pan.
If I had a gun to my head and absolutely had to name one drawback in this brave new culinary world, it would be to remind you that courgettes do retain water - so if you're going to blanch it make sure you drain it well. (Or just briefly wok it and don't worry about that at all!)
As caught up as I am in the courgette capabilities of this machine, that’s not solely all it does.
Potatoes, cabbage, cucumber, carrots, beetroot and even apples can go through this baby.
What's more, it's light, little, goes in the dishwasher, doesn’t require electricity and is delightfully fun to use. Well, what are you waiting for?
What to make? Here are some ideas
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