It's a cool tool, but not every root needs to go through it.
Credit: Anthia Cumming

Pasta can feel like the ultimate comfort food. But of course it's also loaded with carbs. Enter the spiralizer: It's the ultimate kitchen tool for turning vegetables into long, curly spirals. And it gives even the most paleo or gluten-averse eater a pseudo pasta experience with a fraction of the calories and carbohydrates.

In fact, here at Cooking Light we’ve attempted to spiralize every food we could get our hands on: Apples. Beets. And every variety of potato. It's all fair game.

New Year. New Food. Healthy eating starts here, with the Cooking Light Diet.

And we’ve learned from our efforts that some produce is just not meant to take on the tubular shape of pasta. I’ll even go as far as to say that it does some vegetables a disservice to be forced to impersonate a breed of noodles. Let me state my case.

When it comes to sturdy root vegetables such as beets, carrots, or turnips, I’m a vegetable purist. And I believe there is a statute of limitations when it comes to their culinary execution.

Beets are one of the most fantastic vegetables to roast. Caramelize their natural sugars and you turn them into luxurious sweet jewels. They can also be delicious raw—shaved into a spring salad or scattered over a grain bowl for an extra layer of earthiness and texture.

Watch: For a veggie that does a great pasta impression, try this Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi.

But when it comes to beet "noodles" (which now come conveniently pre-packaged in the produce aisle), I’m at a loss.

They’re too tough and unwieldy to enjoy in a salad, too stiff to twirl around a fork, and insufferable as a stand-alone side. They’ll stain your hands, face, and leave permanent marks of disappointment on your once-beet-loving soul.

And the same goes for carrots. Raw, they’re too cumbrous in noodle form to casually toss in a salad and expect any degree of cooperation. Roasted, they become too sweet to pair with a glug of acidic marinara sauce or toss in an Asian-y peanut sauce. There are many ways to enjoy carrots, but spiralizing just doesn’t do them justice.

Some vegetables do a fine job of serviceably mimicking pasta: zucchini and spaghetti squash, mainly. But most other vegetables are so texturally different from grains—especially those in the root family—that their inherent earthiness and gruff texture are no match for your jar of tomato sauce.

We can make vegetables look like pasta or rice (or even an astronaut), but it doesn’t mean we should. Let’s stop giving vegetables identity crises and enjoy some pasta made from whole grains, or legumes. It's also healthy—and pretty delicious.