Beyond Inspiralized with Ali Maffucci

Podcast Episode #356: Beyond Inspiralized with Ali Maffucci

Diane Sanfilippo Featured, Paleo and Primal, Podcast Episodes 1 Comment

Beyond Inspiralized with Ali MaffucciTopics

  1. News and updates from Diane [1:38]
  2. Introducing our guest, Ali Maffucci of Inspiralized [3:56]
  3. The Inspiralized story [9:16]
  4. Starting the business [13:38]
  5. The evolution of Inspiralized [15:43]
  6. Supporting an audience with authenticity [17:58]
  7. Sharing more than just the highlights [25:30]
  8. The Inspiralizer [29:36]
  9. 30-plus fruits and veggies [34:42]
  10. Meal prep with spiralizing [36:04]
  11. Soggy noodles [38:00]
  12. Cooking methods of spiralized veggies [40:27]
  13. Beyond Spiralized recipes 42:11]
  14. Handling haters online [46:12]

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Beyond Inspiralized with Ali Maffucci Beyond Inspiralized with Ali Maffucci Beyond Inspiralized with Ali Maffucci

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 356.

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Diane; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and the 21-Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide. I live in San Francisco with my husband and fur kids.

I’m the co-creator of the Balanced Bites Master Class with my podcast partner in crime, Liz. And together, we’ve been bringing you this award-winning podcast for more than 6 years. We’re here to share our take on modern healthy living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at http://balancedbites.com or watch the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram account or Facebook group for our weekly calls for questions. You can ask us anything in the comments.

Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Vital Choice wild seafood and organics. The leading source of high quality, sustainably sourced seafood and a certified B corporation. Spring has sprung, and it’s time for light but powerful paleo-friendly fare. Like omega-3 rich wild seafood and delicious grass-fed meat. For something easy on the go, grab one of their pocket-sized tins of sardines, or some salmon or bison jerky. They’ve got our favorite wild salmon and shellfish; plus salmon burgers, dogs, bacon, and even organic bone broths. Check it all out at www.vitalchoice.com.

1. News and updates from Diane [1:38]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright you guys. Before I get into my interview with Ali Maffucci, I wanted to bring up a couple of quick notes. The Balanced Bites Master Class is now in full swing. So if you're in class with us, we’re psyched to have you. If you missed it this year, go ahead over to www.balancedbites.com/MasterClass. We have a waitlist, and you’ll be the first to know when it opens up again next year.

And, hint, hint, there may be some special bonuses for those of you who do get in on it early next year. So stay tuned for that.

Many of you know that I’m working on a new book, and it is a book that’s about keto. I was really surprised at the response when I posted over on Instagram of all the questions you guys have had. And how much you wanted to hear from me on this topic. Because this has been on my mind for a couple of years now. We’ve talked about keto a lot on the podcast. We’ve talked about the ups and downs. The positives and the potential downsides, or just sort of who it’s not for. Which I will be covering a bit in the book. But of course, the book is talking about keto. So it’s 99.9% how to do it; what to eat, all of that good stuff.

If you have questions that you would hope to be able to get answered in the book, I will do the best that I can. Head over to www.balancedbites.com. There’s a blog post that says I’m writing another book. You can leave questions there for me, and I will do the best that I can.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; Liz, I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal.

The NTA’s nutritional therapy practitioner program and new fully online nutritional therapy consultant program empower graduates with the education and skills needed to launch a successful, fulfilling career in holistic nutrition. To learn lots more about the NTA’s nutritional therapy programs, go to http://www.NutritionalTherapy.com. Don’t forget to check out their free Nutritional Therapy 101 course, and their brand-new course, Foundational Wellness, launching this summer.

2. Introducing our guest, Ali Maffucci of Inspiralized [3:56]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, you guys. Today I have Ali Maffucci of Inspiralized on the show to chat about building her business, Inspiralized. And her product, the Inspiralizer. Spiralizing food and balancing it all while being a new mom.

To give you guys a little bit of background; if you don’t already know who Ali is, you can follow her over at Inspiralized on Instagram. Ali Maffucci is the founder of the culinary brand, Inspiralized. The ultimate resource for cooking creatively, healthfully, and deliciously with the spiralizer. The kitchen tool that turns vegetables and fruits into noodles.

In 2013, Ali quit her corporate job to pursue Inspiralized, starting first with her blog, Inspiralized.com. Since then, Maffucci has been referred to as a “digitally savvy millennial entrepreneur.” As well as the creator of “a spiral empire” by Food and Wine.

She’s authored two New York Times’ bestselling cookbooks; Inspiralized and Inspiralized: Everything. And her third cookbook, Inspiralized and Beyond, released in May of this year. Ali launched her brand Inspiralizer called The Inspiralizer; which, side note, is my absolute favorite. And continues to provide daily free recipes on her blog and through her iOS mobile app. She currently lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. Shout out, New Jersey! With her husband Lou, and their baby son, Luca. Welcome to the show, Ali!

Hey Ali! I’m super excited to finally have you on the Balanced Bites podcast. I think this is your first time, right?

Ali Maffucci: Yes, it is. I’m excited to be part of it. I’ve obviously been talking to you for a very long time on social media. So it’s great to connect with you here on the podcast.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s so funny, because Nikki who basically; I guess she produces the podcast. She’s like my right-hand gal. She wrote a note that she wanted me to talk about how we met. And I’m like; we actually have never met in real life.

You're one of my only Instagram friends.

Ali Maffucci: I love that. I mean, I feel like we’re friends in real life. We will meet in real life one day.

Diane Sanfilippo: One day. The chances were higher when I was living in New Jersey. I think we almost did at one time, right? We had a day that we were almost going to meet and the stars didn’t align. But it’s all good.

I’m really excited to have you here. We love to do a fun little ice breaker. Not that this whole show won’t be fun, because it will. But a fun little ice breaker. What’s a new thing you’re digging lately? It can be food. It can be lifestyle. Something new that you're digging.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah; gosh. There’s a lot of products that I’m digging lately. Because, for those who are listening and don’t know me, I have a 9-month-old, so I’m always looking for mom-hack items and things like that.

Something that I was really late to the game on that I’m really loving is a pressure cooker. I’ve been using that a lot, so that’s one of them. And then my Allbirds wool sliders. I wear them everywhere. Even though it’s summer now. My feet don’t sweat somehow in wool shoes. But I love those, and they’re so comfy. I actually want to get another pair just to have them as house slippers, because they’re amazing.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ooh. Do they feel like slippers, but they’re an outdoor shoe?

Ali Maffucci: They don’t look like slippers. I’ve walked through Manhattan in hours in them. And I feel support.

Diane Sanfilippo: I like this idea. Because I’ve been thinking about getting some house shoes that are a little less comfortable than a slipper; just like a little bit. Just so I feel; do you know that feeling. I know you work from home, too. We can both see each other’s offices while we’re recording this. But that feeling of just a little more productivity when you're a little less comfortable?

Ali Maffucci: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: Like when you have shoes on. Or for me, it’s like if I put a bra on that day. {laughing} Something like that. It’s like; I’m just a little more productive for some reason. I feel like I have to get something done.

Ali Maffucci: No, I feel that too. It’s kind of like when you're cold, you work harder. You're more alert.

Diane Sanfilippo: Something like that.

Ali Maffucci: Maybe put the temperature down in your house. Yeah, they’re very comfortable. But they don’t feel like slipper-slippers. Bedtime slippers. So I recommend them.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, I’m going to look into that. Hashtag not sponsored. Go look into it.

Something I’m digging lately; which, people who follow me on Instagram will see this because I keep posting pictures of it, is a breakfast salad. I eat breakfast salads all the time. But I made one for the 21-Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide, I guess it was a year ago. Because I had leftover peanut sauce in my fridge from making fresh spring rolls.

And I was like; I’m just going to throw this on a salad. Who cares, it’s all the same stuff. It’s lettuce and cilantro. And I put the peanut sauce on it; and I was like, ok. That was a game changer. Putting that on breakfast was so good, and I’ve been back into it again lately. So that’s something I’m totally obsessed with. And I feel like other people are starting to pick up on it.

Ali Maffucci: So do you do like a salad and then put; I know you eat meat first thing in the morning, too. So you eat an actual salad, or it’s more just greens with eggs?

Diane Sanfilippo: I mean, am I not allowed to call that a salad?

Ali Maffucci: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s greens, with eggs and bacon, and I usually like to do cilantro. Because I really love putting herbs in a salad. But it’s mostly just greens with eggs. But it’s like; it’s not just a little bit. It’s a big bowl of lettucy goodness. {laughs}

Ali Maffucci: That sounds really good.

Diane Sanfilippo: It is really good. Ok, maybe one day you’ll try it. Maybe I’ll influence you.

3. The Inspiralized story [9:16]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, so we have a lot of questions that came in for you from Instagram. I gave folks a little bit of background in the introduction, but before we get into questions, I would love for you to just chat a little bit. I know you just recently had the 5-year anniversary of your business. And we have tons of; mostly women, but tons of folks listening who are in the nutrition space, or they’re curious about starting a business. Or they just want to know more about you and what you're doing. So can you talk a little bit about your journey. You had a job, and you decided, I’m going to go full steam ahead with this Inspiralized business. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Ali Maffucci: Yeah, of course. So two days ago was my 5-year anniversary. I used to call it; the first couple of years I called it my blogiversary. But it’s evolved into much bigger than that, so I just called it my business anniversary.

So what happened was, my mother is type 1 diabetic. Was trying out raw veganism to help with her blood sugars. She discovered spiralizing just by going to a raw vegan restaurant. Found zucchini noodles, and she got a spiralizer and started spiralizing. Was having a lot of fun with it. And invited me over for dinner one night. She said, “Ali, I want to make you this zucchini noodle dish.”

This was back in early 2013. And back then, no one was spiralizing except for raw vegans or a limited, very small, foodie crowd. And I had this bowl of raw vegan noodles. I took one bite, and I couldn’t believe how much it tasted like real spaghetti. And people who have spiralized, they’re very adamant about spiralizing, because it really is a great noodle substitute.

So I thought immediately if I put a hot sauce on this; maybe a lean protein and some cheese, it will taste just like pasta. And I had always struggled with portion control, being a pasta lover. Everyone loves pasta, but being Italian-American, always eating pasta. So I took her spiralizer home that night, started experimenting. Made a dish for my husband.

And we went online, and we were like; ok, maybe we’re just late to the game. Maybe everyone is spiralizing. But we were right; no one was spiralizing. We looked at who hash tagged the word spiralizer; there were barely 200 people. Now it’s like 70,000 or whatever it is. And I said, basically two months went by. I was spiralizing. I was making all these healthy recipes. And I said to my husband; I’m more excited at work for lunchtime so I can write recipes, and then go home and cook them at dinner time. I wasn’t feeling stimulated in my job. This is giving me a creative outlet.

So pretty much what happened was, one day, I just was like; I’m so inspired to spiralize. I’m Inspiralized. And a few days later, I walked into my boss’s office. No business plan. Which I don’t really recommend. I walked into my boss’s office, quit, and then the next day I went to a coffee shop. Bought Inspiralized.com. and started my blog, just with the goal of creating a resource and community around eating healthy with the spiralizer.

Diane Sanfilippo: I did not know your whole; that’s not a long story that you gave us. But I really didn’t know the details. I felt like I knew your story. But when I put zucchini noodles in the first edition of Practical Paleo, I used a handheld grater. I actually can’t even think of what it was called. It’s like a peeler that basically peeled the zucchini, because I don’t think I knew what a spiralizer was back then. That was 2011.

So you're totally right. Even people who were into healthy eating, and the paleo people who weren’t doing noodles. I didn’t know what a spiralizer was. And it was probably later into it. I was probably into 2013 that I actually even discovered it. And now, of course, we’ll talk about more, your product is my favorite. I kicked anything else out of the house.

I think that’s amazing. That’s so gutsy to not have been moonlighting. Because I think most of us; even as a nutritionist, I didn’t quit my fulltime job until I had a few clients and I had actually started my business. Just from a personal perspective, what was your mindset like deciding; “Ok, I’m going to start this.” Did you have money saved up? We don’t need specifics. But I know a lot of people listening are like; “I want to start a business.” What was that whole process like for you?

4. Starting the business [13:38]

Ali Maffucci: Yeah, it was just one of those things. And I tell people this all the time who want to start a business. I could not think about anything else but Inspiralized. Once I said the word Inspiralized out loud, it was kind of like this is going to be my business. I couldn’t do anything else but think about it. And personally, I’m just the kind of person who’s all in or all out. I’m very black and white with things. So I knew that I wouldn’t be able to grow it as quickly, and as well as I wanted to if I was doing it part time.

I mean, I’ll get specific. I had $3,000 in my savings account. I’ve never been a good saver. {laughs} I just told myself; I’d give myself 6 months to a year. And if I couldn’t keep splitting the rent with my then boyfriend, which now husband. If I couldn’t keep paying my half of the rent, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll go back to corporate America. There will always be jobs available.

But I just knew that wouldn’t happen. If I have a chance to just devote all my time to it, I would grow it. So that’s sort of my mindset around it. I never thought I wouldn’t succeed.

Diane Sanfilippo: Have you had businesses before this?

Ali Maffucci: I mean, like a lemonade stand. {laughing} No, I’ve never been an entrepreneur. My father is an entrepreneur. My grandfather is. My husband. I’ve always been surrounded by entrepreneurs. So starting a business and being a business owner never scared me. It seemed normal.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s so interesting to me. Because starting my nutrition business, it was not the first business I ever started. But I totally had the same mindset where it was like; alright. I’m going to give myself this much time. And if it doesn’t work, I can always get a job again. Just not having that ego about it. Just thinking, I’m going to work really hard to make this happen.

Because exactly like you; I would be tweeting about nutrition at my graphic design job during the day. And I was getting boxes of grass-fed meat sent to the office. They’re like; “Who is this girl in the corner over there?” Larabar was sending things. It was the same kind of thing where it was like, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

So I love that. I think that that’s so inspirational. It’s inspiralizing to everyone. I’m taking over your story. {laughs}

5. The evolution of Inspiralized [15:43]

Diane Sanfilippo: Well I will say, I remember when I very first heard of you and your business. Truth be told I was like; “Really? Someone is going to make a whole business out of spiralizing?” {laughing} That was my first. I mean, what a jerky reaction to have. But it was more like; wow, that’s very specific. But you’ve shown over the last five-plus years that it can be specific, and have this really specific niche. But you’ve obviously also expanded upon that so much. Because now you have three books. And the third book, I know, it’s Inspiralized and Beyond, and that’s really where you kind of step your toe outside of that all spiralized all the time approach.

So can you talk about the evolution of that? How you decided to incorporate some of that into your most recent book.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah, definitely. So my first book was Inspiralized. It was the actual first book about spiralizing that was ever published. And then my second on, Inspiralized Everything. Those first two were all spiralized recipes.

And then what happened, evolution of my business and my social media. I don’t eat spiralized food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, 365 days a year. I eat other things. And I was posting these other things on Instagram. And people were asking, “Oh, that’s so creative. Where’s the recipe?” But I couldn’t post it on my blog. I’m putting couldn’t in air quotes, because that’s a rule I put on myself. I couldn’t post it on my blog, because that was just for spiralizing, and I wanted to stay true and authentic to my original goal.

So basically my editor approached me. She said; “You have all these creative recipes. You use vegetables very creatively in other ways. Why don’t we put that all in a book and go beyond spiralizing.” So we called it Inspiralized and Beyond.

I just think, the way I’ve listened to my followers and my readers; they love spiralizing. But they also follow me for other healthy inspiration. So I was excited to go outside my comfort zone and write that book.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that. Because I think that’s really true of all of us. We get known for one thing, but we’re so much more multidimensional than that. In our lives and in our food. And all of it. So I think that’s great. And it’s awesome when you have a community that’s been grown so organically that you can keep being yourself with them. You don’t have to hide that one side.

6. Supporting an audience with authenticity [17:58]

Diane Sanfilippo: I know a lot of people get really pigeon-holed, or put in a box. Even around plant-based food. And I know that’s something over time you had more, I think, more plant-based recipes and you’d always kind of dabble back and forth. Because you don’t just eat plant based. You do eat animal protein as well. Can you talk a little bit about that? Just how being able to support what your audience wants, but at the same time, remaining true to yourself.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah, definitely. So I was actually a vegan for three years. This was before the blog. And when I started the blog, I think I was a pescatarian at that time. So I wasn’t eating meat at all. I wasn’t eating dairy. I was just eating seafood and veggies.

I was like; I want to make this blog for everyone. I don’t want people to come here and say, “there’s nothing for me.” So I basically just started eating meat again. I still prefer mainly plant based. But the issue now is that I’m postpartum; I was pregnant, and I had all these cravings. So I started cooking more just listening to my body and myself.

What I realized through that is that people do want those meat recipes. So now I’m trying to incorporate more of that. Early on, I discovered that my following was very paleo, very gluten-free just by the nature of spiralizing. Most people who were spiralizing at that time were looking at it to replace wheat, or gluten. So I’ve had to listen to people along the way.

But I made a rule for myself this year, 2018, to only post things on my blog that I would personally eat. Because I was finding that I was making these recipes “because people want this.” But those recipes weren’t my best recipes, because I wasn’t emotionally invested in them. So I’ve kind of made that rule going forward. But it’s helped open myself to different types of proteins and meats and that kind of thing.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. I love that. And I love that you also share a lot. This is something that I notice that naturally. Maybe it’s because more of your adult life has been spent with the internet than mine. I’m 40 now, so we have quite a divide.

Ali Maffucci: Which I can’t believe. Because you do not look 40, Diane.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s because I don’t have kids. That’s always what I say. {laughs} But thank you, that’s kind. It’s also that Beautycounter life. I know you’re a fan of Beautycounter as well. But now I’m like; what was I going to say? I’m being flattered. {laughs}

Oh, you share so much of your life really authentically through social media. And I always watch your stories. I can’t not watch your stories. I’m just; I don’t know what it is. I love seeing your husband. I can’t get my husband to be on my stories as often as Lou seems to be on yours. But it’s like; husbands on Instagram stories are my favorite thing. Because they have this weird sense; they always want to pretend like they don’t want to be on it. But then they’re just hilarious. And it’s the best thing ever.

But how do you decide how much of your life to share? And how much to kind of keep private? Because I think you definitely are somebody who, I wouldn’t say you overshare, because I don’t feel that way at all. But I think you share a pretty good amount. So where do you feel like you make that decision, or draw the line, or any of that?

Ali Maffucci: Well, first of all, I’d like to see more of your husband on your Instagram stories, so let him know that. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: He will hear that when he edits this podcast.

Ali Maffucci: {laughing} I would say that when I decide to share, I try to share relevant things. So I could overshare and share things that aren’t really; not necessarily on-brand but are kind of irrelevant, I guess, to my overall mission of providing this healthy, positive space for your life. But I find that when I do share something that’s super personal that I normally wouldn’t, because it’s not very relevant, it gets an even larger reaction.

So I’m not afraid to share something super personal. Because what ends up happening through sharing all those little things, is I become closer to my community. They open up to me. They follow my story more. And they share their stories, which I love to hear at the end of the day.

But I don’t know. I think I live very authentically. So what I’m sharing is on-brand and is very Inspiralized. I’m not hiding anything. Because this is my life. And I’m lucky that the brand I started kind of emulates my actual life. My in real life, life. And I would actually share more. But my husband, also, likes to be a bit private. I’ll post something, and he’ll make me take it down. He’s like, that’s too personal. Especially with the baby. He’s a little paranoid.

He’s also 40. I don’t know if that’s it; he didn’t grow up with social media. {laughs} I don’t know.

Diane Sanfilippo: Maybe. His brand and his work that he does are in real life things. And it’s funny because my husband is on social media, but when I’m posting something. It’s definitely better than he used to be. He used to be a little more shy about it. He’s not shy about it now. But I feel bad sneakily trying to get him on camera. I usually show him before I post it. I’m like; is this ok? I don’t want you to get annoyed. He wouldn’t; but you know.

Ali Maffucci: Well, I think it’s funny because the way Lou has evolved, especially. My husband’s name is Lou. In the beginning, he was very, very nervous. And now he’ll literally say to me, “Get this on your Instagram stories. It will be really funny!”

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing} He hams it up.

Ali Maffucci: And then he’s like; let me see it. Then he’s like; no, no, let me do it again.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Ali Maffucci: Oh my god. It’s really funny.

Diane Sanfilippo: That is hilarious. And I love what you said about when you do share something that’s more personal. It really helps form that connection with your audience. Because one of the things that we see so much out in just; I guess Instagram land. A lot of our listeners follow tons of nutrition voices, and then a lot of our listeners are nutrition practitioners. They’re coaches, or they’re potentially becoming them. And they’re so overwhelmed by what’s out there, and the “competition” of people teaching things or people posting recipes. Like myself and yourself. Maybe, I post recipes like twice a year.

People call me a blogger. I’m like; have I blogged in the last year? I’m not even sure. Something got on the blog. I’m not sure how it got there.

But I digress. I think people get really scared about sharing personal stories. And I think the reality is; most of us who have been able to build a substantial business online have shared very personal things over time. Not the most intimate details. You’ve shared some pretty personal things. We don’t need to share everything. But I do think that that goes a long way. And I can say for sure that I feel like I enjoy following you more because of that. So gold start for that authenticity.

Ali Maffucci: Thank you. There are some topics that aren’t relevant, or don’t make sense for me to share. Like, I’m not going to lie in bed at night with my husband, and be like, “Look at us in bed.” {laughs} There’s a fine line.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ditto. Yeah, ditto.

Ali Maffucci: But there are some lifestyle people who might share that. Snuggling in bed, that sort of thing. I definitely pick what I share. But I don’t just share the highlight reels. So I appreciate you saying that. If I’m having a bad day, or an illness or something, I’m going to share it.

7. Sharing more than just the highlights [25:30]

Diane Sanfilippo: Which, you had Bell’s palsy not too long ago. That was fascinating to follow. And; if you guys didn’t see this. I can’t imagine a better person to have been stricken with this condition, and then follow and watch you come through it. Because I feel like I just learned so much about staying positive. I’m sure you had a lot more down moments that were not always on camera. That’s to be expected. But I just felt so inspired by the way that you handled that. Just as a 30; are you 30 now? {laughs} 30-something.

Ali Maffucci: 31, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, fine. I just thought that you handled it so beautifully. And you share so transparently how you go through all of this stuff. And I think ultimately all of that helps people. Not just the recipes. You help so many people just by being yourself and sharing that, so I thought that was amazing.

Ali Maffucci: Thank you. Yeah, I joke around with the people who followed me during Bell’s palsy. I say; I don’t think my life is going to be that exciting. It’s like; a Gray’s Anatomy episode. People were messaging me, and were like, “It’s like I’m watching, literally, a medical television show.”

Yeah, I think I’m a very positive, grateful person. And I think that I just, in the back of my mind, I said, ok. Once I come through this, I have all of this; I hate to use the word content. But I have all this content for people who do get Bell’s palsy in the future. They can come back. I made it a highlight on my Instagram story. I wrote a blog post about it. Because I still get messages from people who message me and say, “I just got Bell’s palsy and my friend told me to go to you for it. What do you do? What happened?”

So in the back of my mind, I said, “Well, the silver lining is I’ll come out of this. I’ll be fine. And then I’ll be able to help people.” So that kind of guided me through the whole process. And my husband was making fun of me the whole time, making funny faces. Keeping it very light. So.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And I just want to encourage people listening not only to be super supportive of people when they share things that are outside of their “normal content.” Because this is our lives. So we have to share as authentically as we can. But I think that ultimately, what was so cool about watching that experience is that; hearing a doctor tell you to do something is one thing. But watching someone have the experience. That sort of peer influence.

It’s like; if this ever happened to me, I would go watch that highlight. And be like; “What did Ali do now?” Because I felt like you had a good thought process around it. You had a good attitude about it. And that’s the kind of thing that does influence people in a greater scope. I know that you know this. When we share healthy recipes, it’s not just about the recipe. It’s somebody whole life that’s changing. But I’m just praising, giving kudos for the fact that you really shared a lot about that. Because it will help a lot of people.

And there’s no rule that just because you're not a medical expert or a nutritionist that you can’t share your personal experience. Because like you said, it is going to help somebody. And that’s the only goal. Is just to help somebody else.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah. And it was more; it ended up being much more. For people that are listening, who are Googling Bell’s palsy right now. Half my face was completely paralyzed. So aesthetically, it was very challenging. It was very difficult for me to look like that. But what I learned through it is that if you're happy with who you are on the inside, it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside.

And people said, “Did you not leave the house? Were you so embarrassed?” I’m like, the same words are coming out of my mouth. I just have a crooked smile and my eye really itches. {laughs} So I had that as well. It really helped me, again, affirm that beauty on the inside is what matters.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well thank you for sharing about that. I just loved watching that whole experience.

Ali Maffucci: Of course.

Diane Sanfilippo: Not for the downsides of what you were experiencing. But I was proud of you from afar, is what I felt like.

Ali Maffucci: Thank you.

8. The Inspiralizer [29:36]

Diane Sanfilippo: So let’s talk about spiralizing, because that’s obviously your whole business, centered around that. Really quickly, why don’t you tell people about the Inspiralizer. Which is a product you created. Tell everyone why you decided to create it. A little bit briefly about how that process was for you. And just talk about it.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah. So when I first started Inspiralized, I knew it wouldn’t just be a blog. I knew I wanted to make a business out of it. And I knew I wanted to have a product. I just have no experience in that. That’s not what I used to do professionally.

So what happened was I just started the blog, and I was recommending the one I was using at the time. And I would obviously; I would place an affiliate link, and I would say, “If you want to spiralize with me, you can buy this one.”

My entire blog and livelihood for those first six months was based off of that one affiliate link. So many people were buying the spiralizer because of me. So I said; “Why would I throw this guy all this business, and I’m making; what, 80 cents on this. It doesn’t make any sense.”

So my original idea was, I’m going to go to this company and just slap my name on the side of theirs and sell it myself. Fulfill it myself. I went and had the meeting with him. I was like; what was I when I started Inspiralized? Not that my age matters. But I was in my mid-late 20s. And I’m like, “I’m going to make spiralizing the next hot thing! You want to work with me!” And he didn’t take me seriously at all. He kind of laughed, and gave me this weird quote.

And I just got a really icky feeling at that meeting. And I listened to my gut. And I said; “Why do myself this disservice? Why not believe in myself? I can create my own product. I can figure it out.”

And I actually have a family friend who, I knew, I didn’t know exactly what he did, but I knew he manufactured products. So I went to him with a business plan for the Inspiralizer. I sketched it out by hand. I had a whole PowerPoint. And he looked through it, and we had this whole conversation. He was like; I’d like to partner with you on this. I originally wanted to borrow money from him. And he was like; no, I want to do this with you. I want to be your partner. I think this could be really huge for you.

So he guided me through. I was very, very fortunate to have him. Because he guided me through the whole manufacturing process. From getting my hand-written designs to a designer in a factory, to having prototypes sent back and forth. Knowing how to communicate with them. How to get quality assurance checks on my products, and things like that. And we manufacture overseas, we manufacture in China. So there’s a lot of rules and regulations and steps you need to take. So I was very fortunate.

But what I tell people about that is, you’d be very surprised who you know through your network that can accomplish whatever business goal you need to accomplish. Just ask. Network a lot. Ask family friends to ask family friends, even if you're not close with them. Don’t be afraid to ask.

So he helped me. I got; when my first cookbook came out, I announced preorders of my Inspiralizer. In my first cookbook, if you look at it, my second prototype for my product is in there. So my Inspiralizer has a noodle twister on the side that changes the blades to make the different noodles. And the noodle twister is on the opposite side. So it’s basically an old prototype that barely worked. We had to fake the shot in the book.

But when the cookbook came out, I announced preorders. I sold my Inspiralizer starting, it was probably March 2015. Is that when my book came out? 2015. And people who spiralize know. Usually they have one of the spiralizers they buy on Amazon. It has suction cups on the bottom. Mine has vacuum based suction on the bottom, using these counter clamps. It has a noodle twister that changes the blades. You don’t have to have those cartridges you change in and out. It’s really sleek and compact. I wanted something pretty to put on your counter top, you’d be proud to display. It has my logo on the side.

And you know; I feel that it’s the highest quality spiralizer out there. There are, obviously, you have the heavy-duty Kitchenaid electric spiralizers. And I have a lot of people coming to me saying, what a waste. All you need is a really good, high quality, plastic spiralizer to get done what you want to get done. You can spiralize all 30-plus veggies and fruits with the Inspiralizer really well. Because I use it every day, obviously.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that. I remember as soon as it came out. I think you sent me one with the book, and I was telling every single person I knew. This is the one to get. Because I was frustrated by both of those things. I was like; this suction does not stay down. This is so annoying. Especially once you had used it a few times, and any of the rubber wasn’t maybe as soft and pliable as it was the first day you had it or something. We were using it a lot. Also, those cartridges. That was just a nightmare.

And I remember being like; this is so smart! Being able to just twist it to whatever blade! I’ve been obsessed since then. And I think I gave it; I definitely gave it to a friend with at least one of your cookbooks for a bridal shower. I’m just obsessed with it. I think it’s the best.

Ali Maffucci: Thank you.

9. 30-plus fruits and veggies [34:42]

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s awesome. So, we have some questions. What are some great foods; you mentioned there are 30 different; at least that’s how many you’ve counted. 30 different veggies and fruits that you can spiralize. What are some great foods to spiralize that might not be obvious?

Ali Maffucci: I mean, there are tons of root veggies that people wouldn’t think to spiralize. Rutabaga, jicama, and things like that. People are usually surprised by cantaloupe. You can spiralize cantaloupe. I have a recipe in my new cookbook for a granola yogurt bowl with spiralized cantaloupe on top. It’s really good.

You can actually spiralize citrus. So you can spiralize oranges, lemons, and limes. If you want to make margaritas, and you want to make pretty spirals, you can do that. I’m trying to think of something else people would be surprised. Bell peppers and onions; people usually don’t think you can do that. But I never hand slice bell peppers and onions anymore. I use the Inspiralizer. It’s much easier and quicker.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’ve seen you do that so many times, and I still. I’m slicing them.

Ali Maffucci: No!

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m like; I really need to stop slicing them. I’m going to actually take my maiden voyage into spiralizing red onions. That will be the first one I do. Maybe for the next batch of pickled onions that I make, I’ll spiralize them. I’ll make sure I tag you.

Ali Maffucci: Ok, good. I’ll be looking.

10. Meal prep with spiralizing [36:04]

Diane Sanfilippo: How far in advance; that one was from another reader. This one is from Give me 90. “How far in advance can you prep spiralized veggies without losing too much nutrition?” If you can really speak to that. Or just how long do you prep them ahead in terms of texture and things like that? Because I know you sometimes do meal prep.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah. I have a whole blog post about this, because it’s actually the number two question I get asked the most. This one, and then how do I avoid watery zucchini noodles.

So for this question, I usually spiralize on a Sunday, and I put them in an airtight container. Usually a glass bowl, or if I don’t have them, a Ziploc plastic bag or a stasher bag. And make sure it’s air tight. Not much air is in when you lock it. And that lasts me, honestly, 5 days. Zucchini starts to get a little crunchy. Flavor changes of like a sweet potato noodle. But like bell peppers and onions, they don’t really get soggy until the fifth day.

Cucumber noodles are tough, but I’ve spiralized cucumber noodles before, and they’ve lasted in the fridge three to five days. Generally that’s it. You can’t freeze zucchini or cucumber noodles. Because if you do, they’re just really soggy, and you’ll get really watery, gross noodles. You want to have that al dente crunch. So it’s best to just refrigerate them.

Diane Sanfilippo: Which noodles do you find you can freeze? And they’ll be ok when you defrost?

Ali Maffucci: I love carrot noodles frozen. Because when you defrost them, you kind of don’t need to cook them. Because they’re wilted from being defrosted. Those are really great. Beet noodles are really great. Especially because it’s very messy. So if I’m going to spiralize beets, I want to do them in bulk. And freezing them is great.

Sweet potatoes freeze pretty well. They can break up, but if you store them properly, they work. Butternut squash is a really good one. Those are kind of the top ones I would freeze.

11. Soggy noodles [38:00]

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s good to know. So you have a blog post on this, but you mentioned your number one question is how to avoid soggy zucchini noodles. I will tell you, when people ask me this, I’m like, “It’s a vegetable. Not a starch. First of all, you need to lower your expectations just a little bit.” It’s a vegetable. This isn’t; I’m like, it’s not a grain-based starchy noodle. So I don’t think it’s every going to be exactly the same. But let’s hear your tips, because you are obviously the expert, not me.

Ali Maffucci: I mean; exactly what you said. I think people, when they have the zucchini noodles, and obviously it’s made up over 95% water; a zucchini. So you're going to get water in your pasta dish. But there are little steps you can take to minimize that.

I don’t recommend salting zucchini noodles. It just makes them really soggy, and I think even wetter. So what I do, is after I spiralize them, I will pat them dry. And when I cook, I cook them in a skillet. Never boil them. I think it makes it even watery. Unless it’s in a soup, and it’s staying in a soup. So I will sauté the zucchini noodles, drain them in a colander.

And then when I go to plate, that’s when I’m ready to eat. It’s not like I’m going to let it sit there for a while. So I’ll plate it, and pour over whatever sauce and toppings that I have. And then by the time you eat it, not much moisture will have released. And you’ll have time to drain it and all that. Pat it dry after you drain it.

You can add in things like cheese or other veggies that will absorb moisture into your dish that will help minimize it. Those are really the big ones. But like you said; it is a zucchini. So it’s going to be kind of tough. But those are the main ones. Drain them in a colander, and adding the sauce on top. Instead of adding the sauce right into the skillet when you're cooking.

Diane Sanfilippo: I like that. Yeah, it will definitely make it more watery. And one other thing that I do, if I care. Because most of the time I don’t care. It’s fine, there’s some water in there. {laughs} But if I care, I’ll try and reduce my tomato sauce a little bit. In a skillet. So it’s not; not obviously a tomato paste. But some tomato sauces are a little bit more watery. We’re Italian, we can say that. And I’ll just try and reduce it a little bit, so that when I add it back to the noodles, maybe it’s a little more balanced. But I don’t really care that much.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah. There are other dishes you can make. You can use your peanut sauce that you love so much with the zucchini and it won’t be very watery. You can use a pesto. There are other sauces. It’s mainly hot sauces where you have that issue.

12. Cooking methods of spiralized veggies [40:27]

Diane Sanfilippo: Good point. That’s a really good point. OK, cool. So we talked about freezing. And so, you just talked about the best way to cook them. So usually do it in a skillet. Do you ever put them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven? Or do you only ever do it in a skillet?

Ali Maffucci: I find that when; obviously, when you bake zucchini, if you’ve done cubed zucchini, whatever, stripped zucchini, the moisture gets absorbed. So it kind of loses life. And when I eat zucchini noodles, I like them to taste like pasta. So to do that, really sautéing is the best way.

I also will, like I said before. If I’m making, say, a ramen noodle dish and I use zucchini, as long as it’s still in the water, obviously because water is a process of water leaking out and going back in. It still remains life; it’s plumpness, and its crunch. So really in a soup. In a pasta salad, with like a dressing or a vinaigrette. I’ll eat it raw as well. And sautéed in a skill. Those are the three ways I recommend it.

And I really recommend people having it raw. When it sits in a pesto that has an acid in it, it softens so it’s not super crunchy. But I really love a dressing, like a Thai peanut sauce dressing, on a zucchini noodle. I really love.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, the first recipe I ever made with; it wasn’t spiralized. I don’t even know. Oh, it was a julienne peeler. That’s what it was. And it made the noodles. The first recipe I ever made with it was like a caprese salad. And it was that with basil and tomato, and it was totally raw. But then by the time you got to eat it, it just had that little bit of softness, and it was fine. You don’t need to cook them, totally agree.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah.

13. Beyond Inspiralized recipes [42:11]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, I just want to talk a little bit about your Beyond recipes, and how do you actually incorporate. Because I’ve seen you incorporate spiralized things into something like a donut. Or; I don’t know, you do an oatmeal bake. Does that have anything spiralized in it, or it doesn’t? I know not everything does.

Ali Maffucci: There are two versions of my oatmeal bake. The one in my cookbook, it does not have anything spiralized in it. But the one on my blog does. It has spiralized apples.

Diane Sanfilippo: So, what are some of the other fun, creative ways that you use spiralized veggies or fruits that are not just as is. Just not into the dish.

Ali Maffucci: So I’ve had to get very creative over the years. Because after 5 years of spiralized recipes, I stopped obviously making pastas. I had to come up with different ideas. So sometimes I will use the veggie in sort of a classic way. Onions, for example. We were just talking about onions. People like caramelized onions. And normally you have to slice onions to caramelize them. So I’ll spiralize them and top them on a burger or salad. So that’s a little different. It’s not like an actual pasta.

I put zucchini noodles in a lot of things. Zucchini noodle bread instead of a classic zucchini bread. Zucchini noodles in turkey burgers or chicken burgers or beef burgers. It works really well in turkey and chicken burgers, because it makes it moister, actually, because the moisture releases when it cooks. Beef you don’t really have that issue. But with a dryer meat like with turkey or chicken, it helps.

I do donuts. It’s basically a donut batter that I put zucchini noodles into. I do muffins. I’ll do egg muffins with zucchini noodle, or any kind of vegetable noodle. I’m just talking about zucchini right now. I love an egg muffin with potato noodles. Frittatas, as well as egg muffins. What else have I done?

Diane Sanfilippo: I feel like you’ve probably raised the national demand for zucchini. How do you feel about that? Are you like; we should talk to the zucchini growers of the world. {laughs}

Ali Maffucci: Timing was impeccable for me. I don’t know if it was me promoting spiralizing, or the time that I found out about spiralizing. It was just fortuitous. Because paleo and gluten free was just taking off. And people had been using zucchini noodles in their diet, they just didn’t really call it that. They called it julienne zucchini, or whatever.

I hate taking credit for it; even though when you Google it, I was coming up for that a lot. But it excites me. I still remember the first time a national magazine featured a spiralizer in their cookbook. I still remember the day William Sonoma first started selling a spiralizer in their stores. It was December 2013. And it was so exciting. I was like; I don’t know who is helping this happen. Maybe it’s me. But it really excited me. Because my whole goal was to get spiralizing to the masses.

And when I first wanted to write a cookbook; I always tell the story, I went to a friend who had written a book. He had a literary agent. I went to the agent and I said; can you just throw this idea of a spiralized cookbook in front of this editor. And he was like, yeah, sure, of course. And the editor came back and said, “Spiralizing will never appeal to the masses. It’s very niche. It’s for a very niche crowd of people. Certain type of diets. If you want to go with a small publishing house, or maybe independently publish. Make an eBook, you could try that. But I don’t want this book idea. I don’t think this is a great idea.”

So whenever I see my book making, “Top 10 books sold in 2015.” Or, it’s number one on Amazon when it first came out. I’m just like; “I hope he sees this.”

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Ali Maffucci: He’s a very prominent editor. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh, he’ll see it. For sure.

Ali Maffucci: We’re Facebook friends, so he has to see it.

Diane Sanfilippo: All the doubters! Man. You’re like; I’m crushing everything. Don’t you worry about me.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah.

14. Handling haters online [46:12]

Diane Sanfilippo: Cool. So, I want to ask you this. This is kind of circling back to some of the more personal stuff. But how do you handle haters on Instagram or the internet in general. I think you do a really good job with that. But how do you process that?

Ali Maffucci: I think you do a better job.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think I am more; let me tell you what’s happening, everyone. But I think you’re graceful with it. You had, even not just an internet hater. You had somebody in real life who was criticizing you. I remember, when you were pregnant, was it?

Ali Maffucci: Oh, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You were like; I’m pregnant. Where do you find that sort of fortitude to just stand up for yourself and not let haters or criticism or any of that just push you down.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah, I mean I think. Like I said this a little bit earlier. But I think if you love yourself, and you're confident in who you are. And you know who you are and you own it, then you tend to not really care what other people think. Anything they’re going to say, you're going to say, “I could be the juiciest peach in the world, but maybe you just don’t like peaches.” You know? And that’s kind of been how I’ve just felt about myself all through my life.

When I get the haters; you know how it is. Sometimes you just want to share with your followers that this is happening. And you kind of want to stand up for yourself. And you want to stand up for other people who are getting bullied on the internet and don’t have the courage to share they’re getting bullied. And want them to feel like they’re not alone.

So a lot of times when I share that, it’s not necessarily for me. It’s more for the community at large.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. That’s exactly why I share it. I don’t care.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah. And I think it’s important. Obviously, I’m not sharing every single hateful comment I get. But when it is something very hateful, or negative, I want to share it for that reason. But like I said; I just posted a quote today that was like, if you hate me now, you're going to really hate me soon. Just be patient. Because I’m always working on myself, and my business. And I want to obtain all these goals. I have very lofty goals.

There’s always going to be haters, and people bringing you down. Because honestly, they’re not happy with who they are so they can’t be happy with other people. And you just need to know that. Once you kind of understand that. It’s kind of like a healthy lifestyle. Once you understand the concept of a healthy lifestyle, you're like; ah, ok. So much less pressure. You can just kind of roll with it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. 100% agree. I can’t imagine someone who is happy with themselves being a hater. It just doesn’t happen.

Ali Maffucci: Yeah, because you look at people and you're happy for them. I look at your success and I’m like; she’s crushing it! She has this amazing business. She’s a strong woman. I would never feel hate towards you, even though you're an extremely successful person, because I’m happy with my success. You know?

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. 100%. And I’m curious, too. Where do you think; we’re taking a slight left turn on this topic. But where do you think your confidence comes from? Because one of the things that I’m trying to figure out with all of the work that I do in helping; whether it’s people with their nutrition or people who are trying to create a business. I just feel like anything we are trying to do in life to change ourselves for the better. Whether it’s changing our nutrition; which I know you did years ago, just getting healthier. Or starting a business. There’s this element of confidence I find. It’s intangible, and it’s lacking in a lot of people. And I’m like; I’m not sure how to instill that in someone.

Just looking at your life, can you see where you think you got it from? Or along the way? Maybe your life took a certain path, and you can see some friends who maybe had a similar life at some point. Just the way they view the world is different now? Where do you think that comes from?

Ali Maffucci: There’s a few things. I’ve recently thought about this, because I’ve been asked. “Why are you so happy and positive?” This kind of thing. “You’re always smiling and happy.” I’m very grateful. And I think that stems from a lot of my confidence. When you're a grateful person, you're happy for your life. And there are so many people in the world. We see on the news every day who are struggling just to live. They don’t have freedom. They don’t’ have Siete chips. They don’t have all these beautiful conveniences that we should be really grateful for. So I find that my gratitude is what stems my confidence. Because I just feel very grateful to even have a MAC desktop and be able to work on my business. I take every little thing to be grateful for.

I think my mother had a lot to do with that. She’s always had so much confidence. I’m so lucky to have her as a role model. She’s a very strong woman. I think if you surround yourself by other people who lift you up, I think that has a lot to do with it. I find people who struggle with self-confidence, they haven’t had good parental role models. They have friends who are toxic. It causes them to doubt themselves. Relationships with boyfriends/girlfriends who are toxic. Husband/wives.

So I’ve always been very quick to kick someone out of my life if they don’t make me feel my best. And I don’t think that’s a selfish thing to do. I think that’s what everyone should do. Same with Instagram. I do purges of my Instagram a lot. Like; ok, this person isn’t serving me. I’m hate following this person, I have to stop that. And I’ll stop following them. It’s just not good.

And I had said before, for the business part of it, I had always been surrounded by entrepreneurs. So I just always knew that that was sort of where I was going to end up. But I think those are the main reasons.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that. I think gratitude is such an important thing. I think that’s; honestly, actually I think that’s probably where a lot of it comes from for me, too. Because growing up, I wasn’t like the smartest, straight A everything student. I had good grades, but not everything. I wasn’t good at everything all the time. And I’m still not. And I think it always perplexes other people when someone has “flaws” or things they’re not good at, yet they still feel confident and happy. I think you're hitting the nail on the head with that. Gratitude is really where it all comes from.

I feel lucky to wake up and open my eyes every single day. So I think that’s; I love hearing that wisdom from someone. I know you probably don’t feel “so young”, I say with air quotes. But I love hearing that from somebody who is a decade younger than I am. And it gives me hope for everyone. All of our generations can continue to have that to lean back on, and you can continue to be that example for your peers and for everyone who is following you through social media and your whole journey. So I love it.

Ali Maffucci: Thank you. Yeah, we should all be very grateful for our lives, and for our health. Those sorts of things.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. Well, I think that’s it for today. We had so much to talk about. This was really fun. Selfishly, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you through this last hour. So I really appreciate you taking the time.

Where can everyone find you, if they don’t already know you. Which I think would be crazy, but where can they find you?

Ali Maffucci: Of course. I had a lovely time talking to you, Diane. We need to do more of this. You can find me. My website is Inspiralized.com. All my social media channels are at Inspiralized. Except YouTube. It’s Get Inspiralized. I can’t figure out how to change that. I’ve tried a lot. I can’t figure it out.

But I respond to 99% of my direct messages, so feel free to send me a message. You can email me, [email protected] But I hope to hear from people if they just heard about me. I can’t wait for them to follow along my journey.

Diane Sanfilippo: Love it. Thank you so much.

Ali Maffucci: Thank you.

Diane Sanfilippo: We are thrilled to announce a brand new sponsor to the podcast this week, Kettle and Fire. We’ve talked about bone broth before and the many benefits, but to name a few, it’s been shown to reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and improve the quality of your skin. While I do like to make my own bone broth, there’s not always time for that. Kettle and Fire is the next best thing. They use organic chicken bones, and a slow simmer time to extract as much protein as possible. Not to mention the fact that they use chicken feet; yay! Which increases the collagen and gelatin. And you can store it directly on your shelf for up to two years. Which is pretty cool, considering they’re a fresh, never frozen broth with no added preservatives or additives. Check them out at www.KettleandFire.com/BalancedBites and use coupon code Balanced Bites for 10% off, plus free shipping. That’s one per customer. It’s 10% off, and free shipping.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok guys, that’s it for this week. You can find me, Diane, at http://dianesanfilippo.com and Ali at Inspiralized.com. Don’t forget to join our email lists for free goodies and updates you don’t find anywhere else on our websites or even on the podcast. While you’re on the internet, hop over to iTunes and leave us a review. We would love to see it. Thanks so much.

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