Re-Spiralize Yourself

by moonwatcher on June 12, 2013

spiralized zucchini noodlesSpiralizing carrots

I know eating a Whole Foods Plant-Based diet is serious life-saving business, but I can’t pass up an opportunity to play with my food. In fact, I’d say that’s how I’ve succeeded at eating this way for so long. I play with the colors, the textures, the flavors, the smells, as if my food were a mixed media art project.

Despite my penchant for assemblage, I’m not much of a gadget person. Those of you who read my posts regularly know I don’t have a vitamix, that I hang my clothes on the line, and love the sound of my manual push mower cutting the grass. So it surprised the heck out of me when Susan posted her Zucchini “Noodles” with Peanut Sesame Dressing to find that  my curiosity about the device that made those zucchini noodles wouldn’t leave me alone.

Part of the reason I shy away from devices that slice, curl and dice is that I am pretty challenged at times when it comes to eye-hand coordination. I don’t really like the sound of the food processor, either, and whenever I can I avoid it by doing what I call “chopping meditation” at the wooden cutting board my friend Carolyn made for me that extends out from my small kitchen counter. I don’t mind that it takes a few minutes longer. And if I can mash something with a fork instead of listening to the food processor whine and scream, I’ll gladly do so.  I’ve been known to make my “banana ice cream” by simply adding a few minutes to thaw time, and smooshing it up with a fork, some vanilla extract, a little almond milk and chopped fresh mint (and sometimes a couple of tablespoons of cooked amaranth). It doesn’t have that machine made soft-serve texture, but it’s still tasty as can be. And I haven’t fried my nervous system with high speed spinning blades.

Nevertheless, one afternoon after my nap (and while I was still in “prone” time on the couch resetting my nervous system’s relationship to my legs), I decided to click on the hyperlink in Susan’s recipe that took me to the Spiralizer on Amazon. I was charmed. No plug in. All hand done. And a crank to turn. Like the food mill I use to make pear sauce from the pears on my tree. And made of the same easy to clean and durable white plastic. Nicest of all for my inner cheapskate, it was $25.25 and qualified for free shipping.

Anything that moves in spirals and circles or makes a spiral or a circle of itself fascinates me. It’s a direction my brain grasps and processes naturally, even after the MS made my linear tracking ability more unreliable. When I think and visualize in circles, I tend to be able to access that wonderful mostly photographic memory I once had, even if some of the “area” of the circle or spiral is seemingly  missing. It’s one of the things I love about interpreting astrological birth charts: they are cyclical, and thus, circular. And a circle always leads me back to anything I may have forgotten, and reminds me that everything is indeed connected.

I’d like to say it was love at first arrival, and until I got it out of the box and tried to use it, that’s true. The handle kept falling off, and sadly, I had to pack it back up, and return it in exchange for another one. By the time I got the second one, I realized why trying to work the whole thing seemed counterintuitive to me, not the natural “turn” I had thought it would be: I am left-handed and this spiralizer is designed to turn in harmony with the right handed universe. Because of the mild CP affecting my right side, I am an extremely left-handed person. Trying to orient myself to a right-handed device, can make me feel a bit like Buddy Hackett’s Martian in the old Lays Potato Chip commercial, who resorts to trial and error to figure out where the potato chip “goes.”  After  staring at it, poking it and wondering:   WTF? What is  this? A bar? A lever? . . .Ah. . .hah. . .it holds the veggies to the blade. When I had it turned the left-handed way (backwards from its right-handed design), it seemed like a spare part that was there for no reason whatsoever, like an external appendix.

But once I turned it the right-handed way, and happily discovered I could indeed turn the crank with my right hand, and that the strength of my left hand was better used to hold the lever I had discovered was a lever, and apply pressure to move the veggie along through the blade, I had made it to first base in my love affair with the spiralizer.

Just seeing the strands of zucchini and carrot curl their way out of the small noodle blade got me giggling, and reworking that old Police Song “Rehumanize Yourself” into “Respiralize Yourself.” Music to make veggie spirals by. And so, for the next few days, laughing to hear my goofy version of that song in my head, I spiralized zucchini, carrots, red cabbage, cucumber, yukon gold potatoes, an apple, and even the butt end of a butternut squash.

Here is a shot of a salad made with some of the fruits of my spiralizing:

red cabbage carrot and zucchini "noodles"

And here is a shot of the “butternut squash noodles,” which went into an impromptu butternut squash noodle soup:

butternut squash "noodle"

I’d  like to say that handling the spiralizer from start to finish was as easy as slurping noodles. But I had come across yet another  seemingly intransigent obstacle: the blades, which have to be locked into place for best and safest spiralizing, were refusing to become unlocked. They stuck, making their removal from the shaft perilous at best, and often nearly impossible. As a safety stop gap, I took to bringing the whole thing over to the sink and running water into the cracks to loosen the blade.  Meanwhile, despite my exasperation, I began to have the feeling that there was something about the design I might be missing that was adding to this “sticky” stituation (the Martian-potato chip challenge). While resigning myself to yet another one of these “rinsing to loosen” sessions I discovered there is a small very thin rectangular “tooth” at the bottom of each blade that fits into an equally thin notch at the bottom of the shaft. I had missed that this is what actually locks the blades in place. I made sure it was clean, and congratulated myself for my emerging powers of observation. An important piece of the sticking puzzle was now solved. But I still had a feeling there might be more to it.

Whenever I’ve had problems with getting something to “go,” whether is is untangling or taking apart or putting together parts, I always find it helps me solve the msytery by turning whatever I’m working with around or upside down (or even inside out). Perhaps this comes from being a left-handed person having to decode a right-handed world. For me, things often work “right” when they are turned to their mirror opposite (like right handed sewing scissors working better if I turn them “upside down”). Until I was given a pair of left-handed scissors by my grandmother at age 10, I had no idea I was turning scissors upside down to use them.).  So after I spiralized my veggies with the spiralizer turned the right handed way, I turned it around so it was “backwards,” and applied pressure with my left hand from that orientation to remove the blade. Sure enough, with my dominant hand in a comfortable position,  it clicked out of the slot without the slightest hitch, as if some genius had thought of every detail.

I’m certainly not a genius, but I have to say that sticking with the manual difficulties of figuring this out, and being able to have my hands and brain work together so nicely to figure it out so I can spiralize to my heart’s content is a little victory over MS and CP all its own. There was frustration in this process, and concern that I truly might hurt myself as I casted around for how to make it all work. And patience was required. But unlike in the years before eating this way, I could feel myself sorting out the problems each time I attempted to solve them. I knew I would figure it out if I persisted. I didn’t have to paw at it blindly, while my  mind was blank and my body exhausted, only able to make a vague approximation of what might be expected. Instead I could touch, figure, feel, observe, notice, wait, solve.  Oh, plants I have eaten for the past 5 years–to you I am forever grateful! You truly are power foods for the brain, as Dr. Barnard says.

I certainly don’t think of myself as a person who needs to find a way to eat more salads. I’ve been happily crunching away for as long as I can remember. But once I mastered the spinning and spiraling of this device, I have been crunching away on even more interesting and innovative salads and concoctions.

In the years I listened to the Police (and saw them twice in concert), I had a shock of yellow hair in my bangs, and a bright fuschia tail down the nape of my neck. I played with my hair and made it look like feathers. Now I’m playing with my food and making cabbage look like lace, carrots look like slinkies, and all of it look like the spinning spirals that are the shape of life itself. Galaxies spinning in space and within our DNA. Poetry in a bowl. So, if you dare, go full circle with your veggies. Re-spiralize yourself. It’s a playful, healthy way to celebrate the shape that connects us all.

Maria (moonwatcher)

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nicole O'Shea June 12, 2013 at 9:16 am

Now I want one! Looks like so much fun to make and eat :-)

Also – Yellow and fuschia hair! So pretty and bright. Love it.

xoxo

Nicole

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2 moonwatcher June 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Thanks Nicole! Yes, spiralizing is contagious!! xo

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3 Silvia June 12, 2013 at 10:15 pm

I have got such a type of spiralizer and somehow work it.
And I had to grin when I read your text because I didnt figure out half the stuff you did.
One example: I use a lever (nearly broke the knife I used the first time) to get the blade out… Oh well, it works somehow …
And I love the taste of spiraiized zuchini, carots and kohlrabi.
But I really cannot figure out how you managed to spiralize the red cabbage (or any type of cabbage. The strunk, yes, but the leafy part ???

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4 moonwatcher June 12, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Hi Silvia,

My spiralizer comes with three blades. One of them is a single blade that can be used to cut cabbage. I made a flat edge by cutting off the round top and put that at the blade. The directions to do this were in the box! It worked even with a wedge of cabbage, as long as you could get it to stay and turn, if that makes sense. I kind of went crazy trying everything! Kolrabi. . .hmmmm. . .maybe I’ll try that, too, once it shows up at the Farmer’s Market. Thanks!!

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5 kally June 12, 2013 at 10:59 pm

what kind of spiralizer did you eventually buy?

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6 moonwatcher June 12, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Hi kally, it’s a Paderno. You can see the exact one by clicking on the hyperlink in the post. It’s the same one Susan has.

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7 Susan Voisin June 13, 2013 at 8:14 am

Maria, I’ve had to pry the blade out of mine using the handle end of a fork, so it’s probably a common problem. Thanks for pointing it out! And your spiralized salad is so lovely. You’ve been much more adventurous in your spiralizing than I have!

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8 moonwatcher June 13, 2013 at 8:57 am

Thanks, Susan, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that’s been at the battle of the blades! Once I even sent it flying, which really scared me. It ejected out of its slot when it finally came loose like it was being shot out of a cannon! That said, discovering this little slot and tooth at the bottom helped tremendously. If there is even a tiny piece of vegetable matter stuck to that slot, left there by rinsing and not noticing and it dries, it literally gums up the function of how the blade moves in and out of lock.

I did get kind of carried away with all this, but so glad you find my salad lovely!! xo

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9 carollynne kelly June 18, 2013 at 3:37 am

Moonwalker, I had to write again, and say that I really enjoy your musings on your life, food and virtually all that you write about.
but when I read the name Professor Mary LeGare, I thought, could there be more than one of these woman out there in the world ?? I grew up near a family of 16 children, named LeGare!! and Mary was going to Univ Of Illinois last I knew for her Masters, but I never knew in what, since I was older. Seh adn her brother Tom, were students at U of Illinois, Champagne, Urbana, IL. But they could have moved on to another college too. Sadly, she did die of a brain tumor, a few yrs ago, and I am not sure how many. She was married, I thought, but no doubt kept her own name for teaching. this is so unreal to me, and I will have to write the oldest of the family, Ailene, and ask her where did Mary teach. So you have given me a glimpse back into some good memories from my childhood, climbing apple trees, playing softball in their 43 acre field and tons more.
And I will have to get a spiral cutter machine one of these days too. I barely have any room in my kitchen, but will have to see about it! thanks sweetie!

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10 moonwatcher June 18, 2013 at 7:57 am

Hi Carollynne,

Wow, this is truly amazing in the way the world just IS amazing. It could be the same Mary LeGare. It sounds familiar that she went to the University of Illinois. By the time I was her student she was Dr. LeGare, at what is now California State University, Sacramento, affectionately then called “Sac State.” I am so sorry to hear she passed a few years ago. She truly was a memorable and remarkable woman and teacher to me. Helped me understand right off the bat what college can, and should be, in terms of an educational experience. I’d have to say she is one among a few women professors I had in those first years that later would help me realize that I could teach at that level too. I don’t know if she was married, can’t remember. She was small, pretty (I thought), wore black tights a lot of the time (it was the seventies) and rode her bike to work. Please let me know what you found out. Magic!

I have absolutely no room in my kitchen, either, but somehow I managed to squeeze that spiralizer in! I am a little crazy for it, I know, but I love the veggie “noodles” it makes–I hope you have some fun if you decide to try and squeeze it in.

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