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spiralizer also spiraliser (British)

noun [countable]

a piece of kitchen equipment used for cutting vegetables into very thin, long strips

spiralize also spiralise (British)

verb [transitive]

to cut a vegetable into very thin, long strips by using a spiralizer

'Swap pasta for spiralised vegetables for a healthier version of your favourite dishes … I say the spiraliser wins gadget of the year! What makes this unassuming kitchen appliance so fantastic, you ask? Well, quite simply, it has the potential to transform one of the health world's greatest foes (high-carb, calorie-laden, diet-spoiling pasta) into a close ally'

Vogue 13th January 2014

The carrot might be a humble root vegetable, but there are so many different ways of describing what you can do to it – chop, slice, grate, dice … the list goes on. And as if all that weren't enough, it seems in 2015 there's yet another way to prepare this ubiquitous veg – courtesy of a gadget known as a spiralizer, it can now be extruded into copious lengths of string!

the emerging popularity of the spiralizer is another indication of a growing interest during recent years in finding healthier alternatives to conventional eating habits

The spiralizer (also spelled spiraliser in UK usage) has been described as the 'must-have' kitchen gadget for 2015. Reminiscent of an old-fashioned peeling machine, it attaches to kitchen work surfaces with suction cups, and consists of a crank handle, a selection of different blades, and a spike-like grip which impales whichever unsuspecting vegetable you intend to spiralize. A typical example is shown here. The blades supplied each have different cutting mechanisms which instantly transform vegetables into a variety of weird and wonderful forms – carrots, courgettes, cucumber, sweet potato … all effortlessly becoming long and shoe-stringy at the turn of a handle.

If you prefer your veg in chunky, hearty pieces, it might be difficult to understand what all the fuss is about. Predictably, it's all to do with health benefits – specifically the potential to use vegetables as a substitute for carbohydrates. A spiralizer can, for instance, turn courgettes into spaghetti-like strings which can be eaten with bolognaise sauce instead of conventional pasta. This veg-masquerading-as-pasta creation has been wittily dubbed courgetti, or in the US, zoodles (=zucchini + noodles). But it doesn't begin and end with courgettes. With the spiralizer, the likes of butternut squash, beetroot, celeriac and just about any hard vegetable has the potential to be miraculously transformed into spaghetti, tagliatelle or linguine.

Though some, myself included, remain to be convinced (ribbons of courgette rather than al dente pasta? Maybe not …), the emerging popularity of the spiralizer is another indication of a growing interest during recent years in finding healthier alternatives to conventional eating habits. Other linguistic markers of our developing fixation with healthier options include a new sense of juicing (to describe drinking as well as extraction), the adjective free-from (not containing dairy, wheat, etc) and the expression clean eating (a diet avoiding all processed or refined foods).

Background – spiralizer

The words spiralizer (and corresponding verb spiralize) were new in 2014, the concept notably popularized by healthy eating gurus Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley.

Over the past few decades, the culinary lexicon has been augmented with a number of food portmanteaus like courgetti, though they're largely sporadic, novelty terms rather than words in general use. Some recent examples include pineberry, a strawberry/pineapple cross, and duffin, a sumptuous hybrid of doughnut and muffin which immediately cancels out the dietary benefits of courgetti.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 28th April 2015.

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