If you’re looking to eat healthier in 2017, then you’ve probably already discovered the beauty of zoodles and other spiralized veggies. But have you heard of Ali Maffucci, the founder of Inspiralized.com, creator of the Inspiralizer (which she designed herself to be resilient, compact, durable, and reliable)? The businesswoman and food blogger recently sat down with Brit + Co to dish on how she got started, her must-read cookbooks, and go-to quick recipes.
When it comes to comfort food, fall salads, and summer favorites, Maffucci knows that a healthy journey begins at home. She lost over 30 pounds spiralizing, and her own healthy living has inspired readers to “re-invent their favorite childhood classics that a mother, grandmother, or other close family member used to make.” In turn, this year she started “Living Inspiralized!,” a weekly series on Facebook for more healthy inspiration. Whether you’re a novice or experienced fan, read on for Maffucci’s go-to-ingredients, favorite recipes, and how you can “spring clean” your way to a healthier life.
Brit + Co: How did you first get inspired to inspiralize everything?
Ali Maffucci: I first learned about spiralizing when my mother first discovered it. She was trying out raw veganism and ordered zucchini noodles at a restaurant, not even knowing what they were. She was instantly hooked, had me over for a (raw vegan) meal, and I was blown away — I couldn’t believe how those green spirals tasted like actual spaghetti noodles! I thought to myself, “I bet if I put a hot tomato sauce on this, some cheese, and a protein, it would taste just like real deal Italian pasta!” I was right. About 2-3 months went by; I was spiralizing almost every night, and after going online and finding no resources or community built around spiralizing, I decided that I wanted to be the person to build it. I quit my corporate job and started Inspiralized.com in a coffee shop. I’ve never looked back!
B + C: Tell us about your cookbooks. You’ve got two already! So what’s next?
AM: My first cookbook Inspiralized features blockbuster recipes from my blog, along with brand new ones. It goes more in depth about my story, and has slightly more instructions on spiralizing. It’s definitely a robust “starter guide.” My second cookbook, Inspiralize Everything, contains more recipes — and all of them are 100 percent brand new! The book is organized differently than the first — the first was by course, and this one is more intuitively divided by vegetable. So, if you have a zucchini, you can go to the zucchini chapter and find all the zoodle recipes.
B + C: We LOVE easy + quick recipes. What are your tips for creating simpler meals?
AM: Prep some basics, so you can whip up meals in no time. My go-to is to prepare grains and legumes (quinoa, beans lentils, etc), roasted vegetables (brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc), and perhaps your favorite refrigerator-friendly protein (tofu, chicken, etc). I always have avocado and eggs on hand so I can create a grain bowl with those veggies and top with avocado and a fried egg. Sometimes I’ll massage some kale and add it into the bowl for extra texture and nutrients.
B + C: What are your go-to recipes for busy weeknights when you still want to bring dinner to the table?
AM: The bikini bolognese from my first cookbook, Inspiralized — it’s a turkey-based bolognese sauce, chock full of veggies like carrots, onions, and celery. The sauce comes together quickly (you can even just use a jar of healthy sauce instead of simmering the can of diced tomatoes) and saves well for lunch the next day. I serve it with zucchini noodles, which take no more than three minutes to cook. It’s definitely an under-30-minute meal — and the more you make it, the quicker it gets!
B + C: What about easy make-ahead tips for packing lunches and making dinner party-perfect meals?
AM: When you’re meal planning for the week, make sure the meals you make for dinner save well as leftovers, so you can bring them for lunch. I love my Winter Sausage and Brussels Sprouts Butternut Squash Lasagna from my latest cookbook, Inspiralize Everything — it saves well and lasts for multiple meals.
As for dinner party-perfect meals, I think all you ever need is a couple big, hearty salads (perhaps a massaged kale salad with chopped veggies and chickpeas and a shredded brussels sprouts and quinoa salad with walnuts), a crudite and cheese spread (I love serving Brie with celery and sliced bell peppers), and a mini-meal, like mini meatballs in sauce with crusty whole grain bread. There are many great frozen meatballs out there, just reheat them and cook them in a healthy jarred sauce.
B + C: Spiralizing veggies and using fresh produce seems more like a “summer” thing. How do we incorporate more vegetables into our cold-weather comfort foods?
AM: Actually, that’s false! There are more vegetables available to spiralize in the fall and winter months than there are in the summer. Think: butternut squash, sweet potatoes, beets, celery root, parsnips, rutabaga, and turnips.
B + C: Now that spring is approaching, what are your favorite go-to recipes and ingredients to use this season?
AM: You can’t go wrong with a fresh pasta primavera, using broccoli noodles or zucchini noodles. I love stir frying fresh peas and asparagus into my spiralized dishes.
B + C: What are some of your go-to ingredients?
AM: It depends on what I’m making. One of my go-tos in the summertime is zucchini noodles with chickpeas, a basil pesto, and chopped cherry tomatoes. In the summertime, I love a lentil bolognese over sweet potato noodles. Anything you’d think to serve in a traditional pasta or noodle dish, you can serve in a spiralized meal! Whatever the season is, the ingredients follow — lots of corn, tomatoes, and grilled proteins in the summertime and more heartier sauces in the wintertime, and plenty of soups and stews, like the Hearty Beef Stew With Spiralized Root Veggies from my latest cookbook, Inspiralize Everything.
B + C: If someone was looking to “spring clean” their pantry and fridge and start cooking healthier for the first time, what tips and advice would you give them?
AM: Get rid of anything that is processed! If it’s not a real whole foods, toss it. That’s the simplest rule and it’s the rule I live by! And start reading your labels religiously.
B + C: What is your FAVORITE recipe? Tough to ask but… if you had to pick just one?
AM: This may seem predictable, but… spaghetti and meatballs! I make the Vegetarian Meatballs and Celeriac Spaghetti from my new cookbook almost weekly. It’s just such a classic Italian dish made healthier — it’s totally #inspiralized.
B + C: You’ve mastered the art of healthy eating, but, c’mon, what’s your guilty pleasure?
AM: I have many! As for sweets, I love white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and brownies. As for savory, I can’t resist dipping pretzels in almond butter or yellow corn chips and homemade guacamole (I make a mean guac!).
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(Photos via Ali Maffucci)