Do you ever come across a person and find yourself in awe of how crazy talented they are? That’s how I feel about Ali. Every time I go to her site, I’m blown away by her talent. A whole site full of recipe created using a spiralizer. Healthy, innovative, and gorrrrrrrrgeous food.
Tell me about yourself and how you started food blogging.
First off, thanks for having me on the blog today! I’ve always loved this series. Back in 2011, my mother was in a restaurant in Florida and ordered an “Asian Zucchini Noodle Salad,” not knowing what zucchini noodles were. She loved it, found out about the spiralizer and made me a dish with it one evening, a couple months later, in 2012. I was so amazed by how it tasted just like regular pasta that I literally took her spiralizer back to my apartment that night. It still stuns me every time — the consistency is unbelievable!
I was interested in the spiralizer because, like many, I’m constantly looking for ways to eat smarter. I’ve always been into healthy cooking and as an Italian American, I’m a big lover of pasta, but not the refined sugars, carbohydrates, calories and gluten that come with it! For me, the spiralizer was a healthy and light way to eat my favorite pasta and noodle dishes.
In the beginning, I started spiralizing for dinners and lunches at home. Honestly, at first, I had no immediate goals — it was just a blast, new way to cook healthy, without sacrificing flavor. It wasn’t until the encouragement starting pouring in from my friends, family and boyfriend that I decided to make something of my spiralized cooking. I just really wanted to spread the message that eating healthy doesn’t mean giving up the good stuff and restricting ourselves — it just means eating smarter and making better choices! The spiralizer allows us to do all of that, while having fun in the kitchen.
So, I quit my job on June 25, 2013 and started Inspiralized.com the next day. And here we are!
Each day of mine is different! If I don’t have any meetings or calls, this is what a day typically looks like:
*Sometimes I go to the gym in the mornings, so I’ll wake up at 6:15am and work out until from 6:30-7:30am. If not:
7:15-8am: Wake up, make coffee and sit down at my desk, while my boyfriend, Lu, gets ready for work. Usually, I spend this time for myself – checking out my favorite non-food blogs, reading the news and tightening up my to-do list for the day. Also, my desk is in our bedroom, so I’m also talking with Lu as he gets ready for work. It’s just a way to get centered before I switch over to Inspiralized-mode. Sometimes, I’ll walk out the door with him and stop by the little grocery store that’s in the bottom of our building, for last-minute ingredients I may need for a recipe later that day.
8-8:30am: E-mail catch up time! I devote 30 minutes to responding to all of my Inspiralized emails. That usually covers it. I’ll also make breakfast – it’s usually a big green protein smoothie.
8:30am-9:30am: Social media time! I spend about an hour on social media promoting my blog post for the day and checking out what other food bloggers have made, sharing the recipes I love and commenting on their pages. I do this because I love the blogging community and am always impressed by what people create- the energy online at this time is also great!
9:30am- 11:30am: Cookbook writing! In late March, I signed a cookbook deal with Clarkson Potter (Random House). For two hours, I “sign off” and write my book. I have a “Cookbook Writing Playlist” on Spotify, so I’ll put that on and write. Sometimes, I have an “I have to test that!” moment and I’ll go to the kitchen to experiment, but I try to keep these two hours strictly for writing.
11:30-3:30pm: Time to cook! The bulk of my day is spent in the kitchen. I usually try to test 2-3 recipes for the blog. I’ll make a recipe, style it, photograph it, clean up and then repeat a couple more times. During this process, I always “tease” my readers with Instagram and Facebook pictures of my recipes – I love hearing their feedback and getting them excited about an upcoming recipe.
Of course, sometime during these 4 hours, I’ll stop and make lunch. You guessed it – it’s always something spiralizd! Whether it’s a big wrap with turkey and veggeis or an actual bowl of pasta, I always eat zucchini noodles at lunch! I crave them. Since becoming a full-time food blogger, I’ve found it tough to feel satiated when I’m just “tasting” my recipes. Therefore, it’s easier for me to stay on a healthy track when I make a proper, light lunch.
3:30-5:30pm: After I’ve cleaned up the kitchen (ugh!) and lit my favorite vanilla frosting candle, I sit back down at my desk and upload and edit all of my photos from the day. Then, I write all of my posts, insert the edited photos and schedule them. I’m usually a week ahead of schedule, but lately, because of the cookbook, I’ve been 1-2 days ahead.
5:30-7pm: Time to write more for the cookbook! I usually end my “work” day with more cookbook writing. If it’s a Friday, this time is spent back in the kitchen, testing cookbook recipes. The last 15 minutes, I spend making my to-do list for the next day. This is crucial – when I don’t make a to-do list after a long day, I feel so disorganized! It takes a few minutes and makes a world of difference for the next day.
7-8:30pm: Gym and debrief time! When Lu gets home (usually around 7,) we debrief for about 30 minutes. This is actually the favorite part of my day – I need it, especially after not talking to anyone in person (and only speaking to my mom on the phone, most likely.) We just sit down and talk, no phones, no TV- and usually a healthy snack, like some carrots and hummus or fruit. After that, we head to the gym for about an hour. We have a gym in our building, which is convenient. I’ve been loving the Tone It Up girls’ workouts, so I usually do 30 minutes of those exercises combined with 20-30 minutes of cardio.
8:30-9:30pm: Dinner time! I usually just heat up leftovers from the day’s recipe testing, unless I didn’t save anything or it’s not enough for two. I love easy oven dinners – fish, a veggie and sweet potatoes, all baked at 415 degrees on a baking tray. Dinner’s ready in 25 minutes that way!
9:30-11pm: Most nights, Lu and I will veg out on the couch and watch our DVRd Jimmy Fallon or whatever TV show we’re into (last month it was The Walking Dead on Apple TV.) However, while we’re vegging out, I’m on Pinterest, engaging with my followers on social media, and usually on Foodgawker or news-oriented food blogs (like Eater or HuffPost Taste,) following the trends and brainstorming future recipes.
11-11:30pm: I plug in my laptop and iPhone and get in bed. We’ll usually talk with the lights off or read a little bit, to unwind.
What is your one must-have kitchen tool or gadget?
Isn’t that obvious? The spiralizer, of course! If it wasn’t the spiralizer, I’d say a food processor. A food processor allows you to make healthy sauces and marinades in seconds. Also, I make rice out of sprialized vegetables in the food processor! By placing your veggie “noodles” in the food processor and pulsing until they’re rice-like, you can make fluffy, Paleo-friendly bowls of rice.
What is your favorite day of the week? Why?
Saturday! I’m usually wandering about NYC with Lu or just relaxing and spending time with friends here in Jersey City. I usually spend Saturday morning doing something for Inspiralized and then I pretty much “check out” from “work” on Saturdays. I think it’s important to find a balance and Saturdays are my days to really focus on myself, my friendships and my relationship.
Also, I never cook dinners on Saturday evenings! Lu and I usually pick a restaurant near our apartment or in NYC and have a nice, long dinner with good wine, good food and good friends.
If you had to choose one place to travel to every year, where would it be? Why? Have you been there before?
I would repeat the trip I took last summer with Lu to Santorini and Mykonos, in Greece. Hands down, the best trip of my life (so far!)
What is your favorite quote or verse?
I have so many! I have my favorite quotes above my desk, pinned to a corkboard. These quotes include:
“Treat others as you would like to be treated”
“You can do anything you put your mind to.”
“It wont’ be easy, but it’ll be worth it.”
“If you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen.”
“Yesterday you said tomorrow. Just do it.”
What recipe on your blog do your readers seem to love most? (Please include picture.)
What is your guilty food pleasure that you’re embarrassed to fess up to? Kraft Mac & Cheese? Spagetti-o’s? Canned cheese? We promise not to judge!
Chocolate Teddy Grahams!!!