“Oodles of ‘zoodles’ come out the other end when I do this!” I shouted at Nate and Alex, when they came home from a swim meet Saturday night. Nate bought me a “spiralizer” for my birthday and I was using it to shove chunks of zucchini into the machine. That zucchini was then transformed into beautiful, curly “noodles” (zoodles) which, in my opinion, is a game-changer for what I call Nature’s Least Exciting Food Next to Honeydew. Now I’m wondering if I can put honeydew through the spiralizer. The instructions say that cantaloupe is allowed, but what about honeydew? Also, could I bring a spiralizer to a restaurant in case my food tastes awful when I get it? I can just picture my next “Yelp” review: “The service was terrible and my chicken was raw, but I had a spiralizer with me and thank goodness I did! It gave that chicken just the touch of whimsy it needed.”
In any case, my spiralizer can do more than create a much happier looking vegetable. It can distract a moody teen. Alex’s swim meet did not go well at all for him, so in order to lighten things up a bit, I put him to work on the spiralizer. Instant smiles! This illustration, I believe, proves that distraction techniques work on toddlers AND teens. Parents of tantrum-throwing toddlers, pets, and teens NEED a spiralizer. Within minutes, there’s a bowl full of festive-looking vegetables and enough wide-eyed wonder to keep the hope of unicorns alive for years to come.
“Great. Now what will you do with all the zucchini noodles?” Nate asked when we were done.
“I’m going to treat them like ‘real’ noodles and make a healthy chicken Pad Thai.”
“So, you’ll boil them? Won’t they get soggy?”
“Don’t worry. I’ve got this.”
Nate looked doubtful and a little nervous. Perhaps he needed a distraction. We had enough zucchini noodles, so I couldn’t just stick him in the corner with the spiralizer. Instead, I handed him a beer. Then, I also drank one and put together a Pad Thai “zoodle” recipe based on various flavors and ingredient ideas from the Internet. I added in a few touches of my own as well:
4-4 ½ zucchini, washed and scrubbed well—cut into 2-3-inch chunks
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
½ Serrano pepper, chopped/divided
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tsp. garlic (chopped)
½ cup of mini sweet peppers in various colors—sliced.
8-10 chicken tender strips—boneless/skinless—cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs (I used Egg substitute—about ½ cup)
¼ cup green onions/cut on a bias
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup chopped peanuts—add more if you wish
1) Push the chunks of zucchini through the spiralizer.
2) Boil the zucchini “noodles” in salted water for 2-3 minutes and set aside.
3) Make the dressing by whisking together the lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, and half the diced Serrano pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
4) Lightly salt and pepper the chicken.
5) Heat up the oil in a skillet and add the garlic and the rest of the Serrano pepper. Cook the mini sweet peppers. Then, add the chicken and cook it through.
6) Heat up the eggs in a separate skillet with nonstick spray or a little bit of cooking oil. Break the eggs into small-medium-sized pieces after they cook. (I used the microwave instructions for the egg substitute and then broke the eggs into small-medium-sized pieces).
7) In a large bowl, combine the cooked zucchini noodles, the chicken and pepper mixture, eggs, and dressing. Mix well.
8) Top with chopped peanuts, cilantro leaves, and onion slices.
Nate and Alex agreed that I should make this recipe a “keeper.” They devoured it in seconds and there were very few leftovers. The spiralizer then, in my opinion, is one gadget I could never tire of using. I would dare to say it creates relaxing “work” that brings me happiness. It’s what I’ve always imagined knitting or crocheting would be like, if I ever had the patience. I’d just sit in front of the television for hours and crank out cute little bowls of zoodles. Yes, that’s just what I’ll do with less-than-exciting foods and bad days from now on: Send them both through the spiralizer.
Your Turn: Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget that you enjoy using? If so, what is it and why do you enjoy it? Or, have you ever used distraction techniques on toddlers/teens/bosses,/customers/students/co-workers? If so, what did you do and how did it work out?