Ali Mafucci has been putting a fresh "spin" of vegetables since her blog Inspiralized launched in 2013. Her blog and two subsequent cookbooks – Inspiralized and Inspiralize Everything – feature low-carb veggie and fruit noodle recipes that are fresh, colorful and fun to make. She spoke with us about her mission from her home base in New York City.
If you could describe your blog in three words what would they be?
Healthy, creative, friendly.
Why are you so passionate about eating allergen-free?
I have no food allergies, so my blog isn't dedicated to food allergies. However, I know many struggle with food allergies related to the consumption of gluten, and I try my best to accommodate those readers.
What is your favorite meal of the day?
If it's a weekend, then breakfast! If it's a weekday, then dinner! That's when I have the most time, and I'm usually the most relaxed and focused, so I can enjoy my meal.
What’s an ingredient that you just can’t live without?
That's tough, but I'd have to say avocado - I use it in everything and it's my number one source of healthy fats.
This year I plan on eating more?
...from cookbooks! I have so many beautiful cookbooks in my kitchen, and I never make the time to follow recipes from these great authors and chefs. I want to do more of that!
If you were stranded on a deserted island what two spices would you want to have with you?
Garlic powder and smoked paprika.
Where is your favorite place to shop for ingredients?
Not surprisingly, Whole Foods. I also love Asian specialty grocery stores, I always stumble upon a new ingredient I've never heard of before!
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
The Inspiralizer, of course!
You’re a popular food blogger with thousands of followers. Is there a food blog that YOU follow?
So many! I'm a huge food blog reader – I think it's important to be part of that community, and I love supporting other bloggers. I love Gina from Skinnytaste for healthy inspiration and I love the diary-esque nature of Molly Yeh.
Who would you consider a culinary icon?
It sounds cliche, but Julia Child. She was so experimental, fearless and of course, such a lover of food! Who wouldn't love that perspective?
As a health conscious food blogger, do you still treat yourself to guilty pleasures?
Oh yes! I'm a firm believer in moderation, so I indulge, but I balance it out with an overall healthy diet and consistent exercise.
What is your favorite late-night snack?
I love sea salt popcorn, frozen grapes and almond butter with banana.
What are the biggest challenges and greatest rewards of being a food blogger?
The biggest challenges are coming up with consistent, creative content that appeals to everyone. On Inspiralized, specifically, I have gluten-free readers, vegetarian readers, protein-loving Paleo readers and dairy-free readers. There are a lot of people to cater to, and sometimes I run in circles trying to make a recipe "one size fits all." The greatest reward as a food blogger is seeing other people making your recipes and then loving them so much that they share a picture or a message on social media! There's no better feeling, as a cook, to have someone love your recipe and want to share it with their loved ones.
What’s one piece of cooking advice you’d like to share with our readers?
Prepare to succeed! Before I start any recipe (even if it's just one I've typed up for myself to test), I prep every single ingredient, even if it's a measurement of spices I place in a pinch bowl. If you're not an experienced home cook, the biggest frustration can come from lack of preparation and last-minute scrambling that can cause a cooking blunder.
Do you have any recipes that stand out for being epic fails?
Anything baked. I remember I tried to make gluten-free pancakes for my fiance once and they tasted like chalky hockey pucks.
What’s next in your career?
I'm focusing on my branded spiralizer: the Inspiralizer. I want to encourage younger people to cook healthfully, and I am working on projects that help with that. TBD!
Finally, can you share one of your favorite recipes?
Of course! One of my favorite recipes is a newer one - Citrus Golden Beet Salad with Crab, Avocado and Toasted Almonds. It's light, refreshing, filling, beautiful and colorful. All meals should look like this!
Citrus Golden Beet Salad with Crab, Avocado and Toasted Almonds (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
Hands-on Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
For the salad
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 4 large golden beets, peeled, Blade C
- 2-3 cups watercress greens
- 1 cup lump crab meat
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and insides sliced thinly
For the dressing
- 3/4 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3/4 teaspoon seeded and finely diced jalapeno
- 1 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once heated, add in the almonds. Toast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. Taste and adjust to your preferences. Then, in a large bowl, toss together the beets, watercress, crab and dressing. Divide into plates.
- Garnish with avocado and toasted almonds.
Check out Alexis Nilsen's blog Cow Crumbs where she is proving one recipe at a time that gluten-free can be so much more than rice flour and tapioca starch.