The Kitchen Tool You Never Knew You Needed

In case you missed it, check out my recent video on YouTube! We made rutabaga noodles using a table-top spiralizer. They’re SO good, and a perfect dish for a fall party. Plus, you can brag about the fact that you made noodles out of a rutabaga. I mean, really! Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and give the video a thumbs-up.

I use peelers for everything from cheese to squash, and recently (like within the last year) got into spiralizing using a variety of hand-held and tabletop varieties. Spiralizers are like a peeler on steroids but in a good way. They’ve been around for quite a long time but have had a sudden rebirth the past few years with entire blogs and cookbooks devoted to them (see: Inspiralized. Mind blown.). As a dietitian, I’m totally loving seeing people get excited about vegetables! Get ’em any way you can! When you spiralize or peel in ribbons, you’re still getting the fiber and all the nutrients. The look is just different. Face it, a bed of steamed broccoli trees just doesn’t have the same appeal as a big ol’ pile of zucchini “zoodles” tossed in a zesty marinara sauce with grilled shrimp. Sounds delicious, right?

My husband could survive on potatoes and potatoes alone (like Matt Damon in The Martian), so the other night, I showed him a new way to prepare his favorite starchy veg using a hand-held spiralizer. We made baked curly fries to go along with our burgers. Naturally, he now wants to spiralize everything. Watch out zucchini and carrots! You can be fancy and spend $50 or more on a table-top version, or you can be cheap like me.

Here are my top picks for spiralizing and peeling that will fit any budget:

OXO Good Grips Handheld Spiralizer, Green – $14.99

This little guy is so simple to use, and it gives you the perfect size of noodle or curly fry! It prefers softer vegetables, so stick to zucchini, carrots, potatoes, and other squashes.

Kuhn Rikon Julienne Peeler with Blade Protector, Stainless Steel Handle – $13.29

You can’t go wrong with Kuhn Rikon products because they last forever. I’m not actually sure how old mine is, but I have used it for everything. You won’t get swirly, noodly peels, but you can peel a zucchini and get perfect little strings for “pasta” just the same.

Tri-Blade Vegetable Spiral Slicer – $29.97

I haven’t used this particular version, but the reviews are great and the blades are high-carbon steel. You want something sharp that will last a long time!

Benriner Turner Slicer – $54.99

My friend Stephanie (the Chef RD in my YouTube video) has a table-top Japanese spiralizer she bought a while ago on Amazon. We can’t find the exact same one, and I don’t know Japanese, but this one seems pretty similar both in functionality and price. Seriously though, the Amazon find worked even better than a similar one from Sur La Table!

Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget?

Have you ever spiralized anything before?

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Cottage Cheese Doesn’t Suck

I’m about to try to convince you that cottage cheese is the shit. I’ve brought it up to so many people looking for a high-protein, budget-friendly option, and I either get a blank stare or a wary nod. Let me try to persuade you! You see, I loathed cottage cheese when I was a kid. My mom and dad ate it all the time, but to me, it would never compare to a bowl of Trix or Cookie Crisp. I had quite the extensive palate for an 8-year old.

Finally, a few years ago, I was staying with my family and couldn’t find anything to eat for breakfast. I opened the fridge, and the first thing to catch my eye was an unopened container of cottage cheese. Long gone were the days of cereal, and I knew I should give it a second try. So, I pulled up my big girl pants, spooned some into a bowl, diced up some pineapple, and fell in love.

Cottage cheese. I’ve got your back!

It’s gotta be a texture thing, but with the right “accessories,” it can be a delicious meal or snack any time of day. Cottage cheese is packed with protein, potassium, calcium, and is generally low in fat. A 1/2 cup of low-fat (2%) cottage cheese is only 100 calories, 2 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 5 g carbs, and a whopping 13g of protein! I often buy the full-fat cottage cheese because the flavor is even better. Remember that time I said you need fat in your diet? In the past few years, I’ve enjoyed cottage cheese in quite a few different ways; whipped in a blender, added to a smoothie, spooned on toast, but my favorite, simple combos are below.

cottage cheese recipe

Option 1:

A fruity bowl of fresh blueberries and sliced apples. While I love the pineapple combo, blueberries and crunchy apples add a crisp contrast to the creamy cottage cheese. Sprinkle with cinnamon if you’re feeling feisty!

Option 2: 

Don’t think you shouldn’t eat oatmeal from a packet! Look for ones that are low in sugar (less than 5g) and have a simple ingredient list. The packets are convenient, but often not very satisfying. I know one packet of oatmeal does not have the staying power I need for a busy day. That’s why I like to pair cooked oatmeal with a 1/2 cup of protein-rich cottage cheese, 1 tablespoon of high-fiber flaxseed, and 1-2 tablespoons of chopped pecans. Boom.

Option 3:

A savory option! Skip the ranch dressing and go for the cheese. Stir in your favorite seasonings for extra flavor like dried onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. You can then layer on top of salad greens or use as a dip for chopped veggies. I happen to like cherry tomatoes and red pepper strips.

Other Ideas:

Whip in a blender and spread on toast (tastes like cream cheese, OMG)

Go half cottage cheese, half mayo in tuna salad.

Layer in lasagna instead of ricotta cheese

Use in homemade macaroni & cheese. (this recipe is one of my faves)

The possibilities are endless, I swear. My favorite brands include Shamrock Farms and Sprouts, and Daisy. If you go to Costco, they sell Shamrock Farms cottage cheese in a giant, 3 lb. tub and the price is ridiculously low. I may or may not always have one in my fridge.

cottage cheese tub shamrock farms

Hearts not included

Do you like cottage cheese? If so, what are some of your fave ways to eat it?

What foods do you not like?

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This Will Save Your Life

For the majority of my life, my family has been scattered across many states from California, Oregon, Connecticut, to Pennsylvania. I lived away from my parents for about 6 years, and just recently they decided to move back to Arizona. So now, instead of a 4-hour plane ride, I can hop in the car and be at their door in 40 minutes. This proved to be quite useful this past weekend when I got a call from my stepdad saying my mom had been in an accident, a bicycle accident.

Like I mentioned previously, my family loves being active. We love to hike, bike, run, walk, and swim. Most weekends you can find my mom up at the crack of dawn, riding her horse, or out in the garden. She’s always on the go. She also loves to ride her bike everywhere. Like any other Saturday, she was out on a bike ride, but this one ended with a stage 3 concussion, an acute loss of memory, coordination, and a bruised body. A truck clipped the side of her bike, and down she went. The main reason she suffered that type of damage to her head was simply because she wasn’t wearing a helmet. You probably heard it many times while you were younger, “don’t forget your helmet!” “Wear your knee pads!” “Look both ways!” I definitely rolled my eyes many times at all these statements, and sneakily hid my helmet because I thought it was dorky. Be active, go outside, but remember to protect yourself if you can!

Check out this video below from Howcast on how a bike helmet protects your head and skull.