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Spirals Are Now a Straight Line to Convenience Food

(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)

By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate

Is your world spiraling out of control? Maybe it should be. Although that might sound hectic, in the culinary world it's actually currently the opposite. Spiralizing your food just took some turns toward even the more convenient for quick "pasta" meals of everything from soups, salads, breakfasts, and entrees.           

For the last few years, the rage has been spiralizing "noodles" from vegetables for health. The process involved often peeling vegetables, inserting blades and cranking a kitchen appliance with your arm to do it. The popularity of the trend, though, has now led to much more convenient twists.           

Walking down the fresh produce aisle at Whole Foods Market recently revealed prepackaged fresh spiralized beets, sweet potatoes, zucchini, and summer squash. The cover of Rachael Ray's Everyday magazine showed off a tart made from frozen spiralized vegetables that are now available at many supermarkets.           

Big brand Green Giant recently introduced frozen Veggie Spirals prepared from carrots, butternut squash, and zucchini. They are 100 percent vegetables that contain no sauce or seasonings. Green Giant ads refer to them as "an exciting new take on noodles" that are "a family-friendly alternative to pasta."           

Those who have bought home spiralizers in the last years know that if you pepper such curly creations into your diet in place of pasta, you get the fiber and nutrients of vegetables without as many carbohydrates. The texture is similar to pasta as well as the appearance and the way they absorb sauces and function in recipes. Often, they also add vibrant color to meal presentation, which reflects them being packed with antioxidants.           

If you're ready to take that helpful and delicious curve at the next fork in the road, use either your own spiralized vegetables or the new convenient ones available in many supermarket fresh produce and frozen food aisles to create the easy examples that follow. All ingredients are to taste.

Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for preparing homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.           

    Gently combine carrot spirals with raisins, chopped walnuts, honey, minced cooked chicken, turkey or ham, ground cinnamon and low-fat vanilla or plain Greek yogurt (if plain, add a dash of pure vanilla extract).        

    Gently combine zucchini spirals with pressed garlic, freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Just before folding cooked omelet, fill with zucchini mixture, finishing heating omelet until mixture is heated.           

    In a nonstick skillet, heat the following, while carefully and gently stirring occasionally: beet spirals, pine nuts, dried basil, oregano and thyme. Place in serving bowl and toss with small amount of olive oil and cooked shrimp or cooked mock crab.          

    To store-bought or homemade tomato-basil soup when first heating, add pearl onions and chopped green beans. Cook and let simmer. When almost done heating, gently stir in butternut squash (or other squash) spirals. Just before serving, top with freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated Romano cheese.

QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: If you need some inspiration for what to do with spiralized vegetables - whether they emerge from your own kitchen appliance or fresh produce or frozen food aisles of your supermarket - Ali Maffucci's "Inspiralized: Turn Vegetables into Healthy, Creative, Satisfying Meals" has a lot to offer. The blogger obviously has put much thought - with gourmet results - into chapters on everything from breakfasts to desserts. There is lots of Americana, as well as stops around the world, including egg drop soup (with spiralized zucchini), spring rolls (with spiralized cucumber), nori rolls (with spiralized beet), enchilada bake (with spiralized carrot) and hummus wraps (with spiralized golden beet).            

Lisa Messinger  at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on

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