Sunday, January 4, 2015

Finding the Right Vegetable Spiralizer and a Recipe for a Refreshing Cucumber Salad #InstantVeg #Brieftons


Low carb and gluten free diets are all the rage right now, and there are many products coming to the market that help you to avoid carbs and gluten.  Which is great for me, because it is easier to find something "Celiac safe" to eat.  However, gluten free doesn't necessarily mean low fat, low sugar or low sodium. Contrary to popular belief, foods marketed as being gluten free tend to have more fat, more sugar, more salt and more calories than their traditional counterparts.  The reason why, to make these foods taste better. Sometimes it helps and in most cases not so much. I have tried just about every gluten free product on the market since going gluten free ten years ago.  Most of them are bland. Most of them are grainy. Most of them are heavy.  Most of them are just plain gross. Any one who tells you otherwise is either delusional or has no taste buds.

Not only is there the yuck factor, these foods are also incredibly expensive..$6.99 for a loaf of bread.  A very, very small loaf.  That doesn't even taste good. Trust me, it's depressing.  I have found that the best way to be on a wheat free, gluten free diet is to make all of my own food. From scratch.  There are some things that I have perfected, and others that are near impossible to make at home.  Like pasta.  I haven't had real spaghetti in ten years, yet I can still remember the taste and texture and can quickly tell if I had found a reasonable pasta substitute.  GF pastas are heavy, grainy, too hard when cooked "al dente" and completely turn to mush if cooked even a micro second too long.  I had given up hope until my sister introduced me to veggie noodles.

She was on a health kick and had found a way to make low calorie veggie noodles at home. She tried it and insisted that I did too.  Doubtful, I gave it a try...then I was hooked!  Spiralized vegetables not only look cool, they also added something to my "pasta" meals that I had been missing...TEXTURE!!
Eager to replicate her success I got a spiralizer of my own. A hand held thingy I saw on TV that works like a pencil sharpener.  You stick in a veggie and twist it to make long veggie "pasta" strands. In theory it works great...if you are only cooking enough for one person and the type of veggies you can use are very limited.  As in just zucchini, carrots and cucumber.  


As Seen On TV version, InstaVeg Spiralizer, Tri-Blade Spiralizer
As Seen On TV hand-held version
However, I was recently selected to try not one but TWO different vegetable spiralizers by Brieftons. The first one I tried was the InstaVeg Spiralizer.  This uniquely designed tool has a easy to use hand crank and attached container that allows you to easily catch and store your "noodles."  Or remove the catch container to use over a larger bowl to allow for more servings.  Like every kitchen tool, there are some pros and cons...
Pros:
  • Easy to assemble out of the box.
  • This unit cuts four different styles of veggie "noodles" allowing for versatility.
  • I like that this product has a catch container that keeps everything contained neatly.
  • No sharp blades exposed so it is a lot safer to use so I can let my kids help out with dinner. Hand crank makes it quick and easy to use.
Cons:
  • The handle comes off occasionally, I would have like to see this all one piece.
  • The whole unit is really easy to clean but the blades. Luckily they included a brush to make things easier. Simply loosen any stuck pieces then put the unit into the dishwasher.
  • This unit is small so you have to trim veggies to fit.
  • In order to get a clean, effortless cut, you need to cut the ends off of the veggies. The helps them to remain flat and stay on the prongs when you are turning the crank.
  • There is a bit of "waste" left over once you are done cranking. Trying to get it out of the blades can be a bit hazardous. I use a fork to remove excess.

All in all I think the InstaVeg sprializer works well and does what it says it will do. I think it is best for doing small amounts of veggies for one or two servings. So in other words it works great as long as you have a smaller amount to make. I use this one when I am making enough for a side salad for the family. Teenie loves to use this one, she thinks it's tons of fun, because she can do it herself and she likes to crank the handle.


Briefton's InstaVeg Results
The other spiralizer I was sent was the Brieftons Tri-Blade Vegetable Spiralizer, I was excited to try this product because my sister has one of those large as seen on TV slicers.  When I received it, I opened it up and realized that it is pretty much identical to my sisters'. It was really easy to set up right out of the box. However there are some pros and cons to this product as well.
Pros:


  • The larger open style lets you spiralize just about every veggie and hard fruits. 
  • Strong design that stands up to harder veggies.
  • Easy to use right out of the box.
  • Easy to clean. Just rinse the blades under hot water.

Cons:


  • Exposed blades...Needless to say I won't let Teenie touch this one.
  • If you are cutting something really hard. It really takes some muscle to get it started. Cutting the ends off helps. As does peeling the fruit or veggies first.
  • It's kinda messy- If you are cutting a particularly juicy veggie, the juice leaks out everywhere. Even if you have a bowl underneath the catcher.

I really like the Tri-Blade Spiralizer and even though there are some cons, I still would choose this one over other styles. Its great for making large amounts of veggie noodles for parties or for family meals. This spiralizer really makes quick work of the largest pile of veggies. In minutes you will have a ton of beautiful veggie noodles ready for recipes!  Also I noticed that my kids will actually eat the spiralized veggies and that alone is worth the price

One of my favorite things to do with spiralized veggies (besides a noodle substitute) is to make  a delicious, refreshing cucumber salad.





Brieftons Tri-Blade Results

As seen on TV, InstaVeg. Tri-Blade

And of course I had to do something with all of that cucumber!


Refreshing Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:
2 large cucumbers spiralized with the skin on
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Roma tomato, diced
a few slices of thinly slice onion (about 3 slices worth)
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
salt 
pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Lightly toss together all ingredients, season to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.  This salad is great for a light dinner or lunch served along side fish or chicken. Serve up some yummy!

Disclaimer, because the FTC says I have to:  I got this stuff for free. It's part of the many perks of being a blogger. I was not paid to do this review, and all of the opinions expressed are my own.