Low-Carb Couch Potatoes, Coming Attractions, Tamales & Ohmigawdwhaddizit!


Some of you may or may not have noticed a minor dip in production this past week. Rather than blog cooking once a week, I’m cooking once a month. From Sunday through Tuesday, I cooked 42 dishes. No easy task! Not only is it time consuming to plan for, shop for, prepare, cook, plate, shoot and clean up after such an ongoing fiasco, but there are also issues like kitchen space, freezer space, refrigerator space and — the biggest issue of them all, the space in my belly!

My house, for the past week, has been like a massive “all-you-can-eat” low-carb buffet! I’ve had friends and family over, and I’m still eating my way through it all, which has forced a long and overdue reunion with my couch! My friends, I have a little secret for you: There IS such a thing as too much of a good thing!

While that’s all the bad news, the good news is, that 3 day cook provided some great upcoming recipes, such as: Polenta Cakes, Assorted Curries, an “Almond Joy” Jello Bombe, Gumbo, Lemon Bars, Salisbury Steak Stroganoff, Sausage Stuffed BBQ’d Turkey Thighs, Cheddar-Ham Muffins and so much more.

I’ve now resurfaced from that gargantuan pile of food and here to showcase this week’s coming attractions!

Coming Attractions:

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with Homemade BBQ Sauce

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with Homemade BBQ Sauce

Pizza Pucks

Pizza Pucks

Marinara Sauce

Low Carb MarinaraSauce

Quick Seared Zoodle-Fettucini with Bacon


Keeping it short

Today’s blog is going to be fairly short, largely because the following recipes are each fun little stories in their own right. The Okonomiyaki and Tamales are both lively and interesting realms within which you can wander. Also look at the one-minute breads. This is one of the mainstays of a low carb diet. Surprising places to be within a low-carb way of life!

Without further adieu — here are today’s recipes!


Pork Tamales

Pork TamalesThis story begins with my asking my Facebook followers what recipes they’d like to see me create. One of the ideas came from super foodie Sharon Bradley Looper. She requested TAMALES! Tamales represent a challenge. Making tamales without corn is like making bread without flour. I LOVED the challenge, but really wasn’t sure where to start. The seed had been planted.

About a week later, I was chatting with Barbo Gold, whom I know from LowCarbFriends.com. I mentioned that someone had requested tamales. Barbo immediately responded, “Been there, done that!” She was clearly very proud of herself, then offered me the link. I then asked her if I could steal the recipe for my own site. She said, “Sure!”

The recipe below follows Barbo’s recipe almost exactly, with the exception of the fat and filling. The filling is my own Mexican-ish Shredded Pork, and the fat I used was bacon fat, from the fridge. Otherwise … it’s Barbo’s recipe … and it was DELICIOUS!

BUT WAIT! This isn’t where the story ends, my friends. There’s a twist!

A few days after making the tamales, I wanted to check the carb amount of the can of hominy. I’d forgotten the amount, but knew it was either 3 or 4 net carbs per 1/2 cup portion. I picked up the can and took a gander. Holy Tamales! It was 16 net carbs per half cup portion! This was more than 4 times the carbs I’d thought they had. OH NOES!

I’d known about the “Mexican Style” canned hominy for years. I read about it many times on LowCarbFriends.com. Ironically, living in Mexico, they were nowhere to be found! Sure, there was hominy everywhere. None of it specified that it was “Mexican Style”, but I could make the argument that all hominy in Mexico is “Mexican Style”. In any event, after a week of scouring every grocery store in the Los Cabos area for the mythical low-carb Mexican Style Hominy, I gave up.

Cut to the present, I found the now legendary low-carb “Mexican Style” hominy on Amazon.com. The nutrition facts weren’t listed, but the lone customer review suggested that this was, indeed, the stuff of legends. I made the purchase and eagerly awaited my order. When it arrived, I didn’t even read the label, I simply popped the top and whipped up a steamed batch of porky goodness!

After eating the tamales and having more “masa” still in my fridge, but holding another can in my hand reading that it was high in carbs, my shoulders sank and I knew there those extra few lbs. on my rump had come from. Infernal dastardly tamales!

This sent me in a mission to figure out what had happened! I was able to find the nutrition facts for the Juanita’s “Mexican Style” hominy, which does state that it’s 4 net carbs per 1/2 cup. However, the can in my hand reads 16! What gives? Was it a typo for all those years? Then, I combed through miles of eBanter talking about the Mexican Style processing, which leaches the starch from the hominy. I read about how the canned “Mexican Style” hominy uses an heirloom variety of corn, which hasn’t had all the sugar bread into it, like today’s corn. (keep in mind, none of these “stories” would hold up in court) I also found others running into this same issue, with discussions that even followed up directly with Juanita’s. They never got through to someone with the information. A dead end.

My theory is that they either recently corrected their mistake on the can, OR that they changed the formula, process and/or variety of corn being used. It isn’t clear to me that I have any way of knowing.

This didn’t stop my search, though. I didn’t give up. That’s not my style. I forged ahead! I found that another company also makes the seemingly impossible hominy. Teasdale! I ordered some cans from them, opened the box and read. 4 net carbs per 1/2 cup portion. WHOO HOO!! EUREKA!!! I felt like I’d just discovered the mother load! I immediately popped the can and whipped up a batch of grits. YUM!

Today, right now, I’m a bit miffed that the low-carb hominy from Amazon wasn’t what the doctor ordered. I also remain somewhat skeptical of the Teasdale brand, but … it does DEFINITELY say 4 net carbs on the can, and I HAVE read about the starch leaching process and about the heirloom varieties. Oh, how rationalizing is fun!

I also want to point out that I unearthed a similar recipe while doing my research. This recipe is from another low-carb blogger and one whom I hold a lot of respect for. Her recipe is very similar, with one of the bigger differences being the use of canned baby corn, rather than full hominy. The American Diabetes Association states that baby corn is a non-starchy vegetable in their list, but … “Mexican Style” hominy is nowhere to be seen.

Long Story Short: These tamales are every bit as good as they look, but the carb amount is up for debate. I suggest making these if you have a higher tolerance to carbs than I personally do, or for the occasional splurge. Do you have a cheat day once a month? Next time … try TAMALES!

Note: This recipe assumes you’ve already made the shredded pork and sauce (see recipe link in list of ingredients)


Ohmigawdwhaddizit AKA Okonomiyaki

Ohmigawdwhaddizit AKA OkonomiyakiThis is a strange recipe. It’s a strange Japanese Pizza-Pancake, called “Okonomiyaki”. (Oh-Koh-Noh-Mee-Yah-Kee) The word is a combination of two words Okonomi+Yaki, meaning “What You Like” + “Grilled”.

My little brother attended college in Tokyo. He continued to live there for about 3 more years. This is where we were introduced to Okonomiyaki. I’d never heard of it, prior to visiting my brother in Japan. Okonomiyaki is basically pancake batter, mixed with eggs, cabbage, pickled ginger and scallions. Then, different fillings are selected and added, such as: pork, shrimp, cheese, kimchi, etc. This is all blended together and then poured onto a hot surface to cook, much like a large thick pancake. It is then brushed with Okonomiyaki sauce (kind of like BBQ sauce), Japanese mayonnaise, bonito flakes (thin shaved dried fish flakes) and seaweed flakes.

My family loving refers to it as: Ohmigawdwhaddizit!

When I think about Okonomiyaki, I’m somewhat reminded of “quiche”. Quiche, to me, is where leftovers, the little cheese ends and partially chopped up vegetables roaming around my fridge all wind up on weekends (now more as crustless quiches/frittatas). These little egg pies are a wonderful way to glue all those ingredients together for a hot, seemingly fresh breakfast delight!

I see Okonomiyaki in much the same way. It’s a random and always changing collection of ingredients, which are folded into a batter, then cooked on a flat grill-top surface. In my eyes, it’s the Japanese equivalent of leftover pie!

When I made my little mini-crab cakes, I felt like I’d found a new way to make Okonomiyaki, as well! I started thinking about it, and arrived at what follows. Being quite proud of my idea, I invited my brother over to try out my Okonomiyaki. I think he was impressed by how it turned out. He definitely said that it looks just like it would in Japan. He took his plate and gobbled it up!

In the end, he described it as the worst Okonomiyaki that he’s ever had, sad to say. However, it’s also not a “true” Okonomiyaki. He liked it and ate it, but compared it to the real thing … in Toyko. This is not that. This is a low-carb imitation and one that, while it’s the worst my brother has ever had (SNOB!), is still quite delicious in its own right. I certainly enjoyed mine!

If you’re in the mood to try out something completely different … this recipe is “completely different”. Give it a go!

Note: One of the steps calls for laying thin slices of pork belly over the uncooked side of the pancake. I have a large Asian grocery store in Seattle and was able to pick up some thin slices of Kurobuta pork belly. This is lean and uncured. However, thin strips of a raw low-sodium bacon will work just as well!


One-Minute Cheddar Bread and Buns

One-Minute Cheddar Bread and BunsHere’s another recipe that steps me a bit closer to being a fully realized low-carb website. It seems as if one of the cornerstones of a low-carb way of life is … drum roll … the one minute muffin! People in the know shorten it to OMM. All over the internet, you’ll see OMM. They’re referring to this thing, right here!

When I started on this path, I was living in a small broken down condo in Mexico. The unit had a built-in microwave, but it didn’t work. Also, coming from the land of restaurant kitchens, I’ve grown to be a little leery of microwaves. They’re ok for defrosting, but beyond that, food should be COOKED, not “nuked”. This is my professional cook brain talking, mind you. Now that I live in Seattle and have a microwave, I use it (just don’t tell anyone – *wink*). I’ve been low-carb for almost exactly 3 years, and had my first one-minute muffin, just 2 weeks ago. It was MUCH MUCH better than I thought it would be! OHhhhhhh …. It was DELICIOUS!!!

One-minute muffins are everywhere that you see a low-carb recipe. They are called a “one-minute” muffin, because they are nuked for a minute, in a microwave. That’s it!

The method is really quite simple. Put your ingredients in a coffee mug, swirl them around, place the cup in the microwave for one minute. Let it sit for another minute, then … eat!

The core ratio can be adjusted in an infinite number of ways. You can add sweeteners to it, berries, nuts, spices, citrus rinds, chocolate chips, food colors, etc. You can also add cheese, herbs, garlic, chilies, etc. This “muffin” can be made sweet or savory.

It also takes the shape of anything you put it in. In the photos, you’ll see that I have little round ones and bigger square ones. The smaller ones were nuked in little 6.5 oz glass cups that I stash homemade ice cream in. The bigger ones were nuked in microwaveable plastic tupperware-like containers. Once you make the batter, you can spray the container with some spray (or butter it up!), then pour the batter into it. You can expect it to rise about double or triple the height of the batter.

You can eat them hot and fresh or cool them down. You can also split them in half to use for sandwiches. I literally cannot believe I waited 3 years to give these a shot. Maybe microwaves aren’t so bad, after all!

Note: This recipe makes 4 large “coffee cup” sized buns, 8 sandwich squares or about 12 small “buns”.


Bacon-Cheddar BBQ Pork Sliders

Bacon-Cheddar BBQ Pork SlidersI’m not completely sure where this idea came from. I’m a massive fan of anything “BBQ’d”, and had just made my first batch of one-minute bread, ever. I wanted to try something small, tasty and … to use my own slangy vernacular … grubbin’.

This starts with ground pork from the butcher. I added all the spices and flavorings I’d add to a dry rub for a smoked pork butt. The flavor profile is about the same. Then, I added coleslaw, which is a traditional fixin’ for a BBQ Pork Sandwich. Then, to make it more “slider-y”, I topped it with some caramelized onions and crispy bacon!

This was all placed within small one-minute cheddar buns and … well … I’m not sure what happened after that. They disappeared so quickly! “Where did they go?” he says guiltily with a spot of sauce on his cheek and forehead.

These little guys are perfect for a summer day, Super Bowl party, Fourth of July BBQ or any meal of the day: breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Note: This recipe assumes you’ve already got coleslaw and one-minute bread ready to go. Recipe links are within the ingredient lists.


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4 thoughts on “Low-Carb Couch Potatoes, Coming Attractions, Tamales & Ohmigawdwhaddizit!”

  1. Hi DJ, I just ran accross your story on Aol news today and as I just got daignosed with hypothyroidism and pre, pre diabetic. I’m freaked but, not really surprised. I knew my bad eating habits would catch up with me. Your story is very inspiring. I’m feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start. How does one change life long bad habits. My Dr. says that once I give up carbs and sugar, I won’t crave it anymore. Was that your experience? I love vegies and fruit. I don’t know how to shop for cooking healthy. Do you have a book you recommend? I’m ashamed to say I’ve passed these bad eating habits on to my boys. 13 and 10. The fruit I buy goes bad as we all gobble up the chips, dip, crackers, candy and I’m sure you know the rest. I order fast food often because I’ve gotten lazy. I like to cook when I’m cooking things I like. Spaghetti,chili,meatloaf,cheesy casseroles, hamburgers, tacos. I’m looking forward to trying your recipes. I’m 55 and this old dog has to learn some new tricks. I’m excited about it but overwhelmed and kinda scared as well. The way I feel is: I can’t fail this time. Because my life is at stake and I need to help my boys. My husband was diagnosed with a fatty liver several years ago and we ate healthier for a while and changed some things. But we’ve slipped back. Now we are both even fatter and lazier then before. This is my first blog. I’m a computer AND cooking dinosaur!

  2. Hi Susie! Your question is a wonderful one! Let me think about it. I want to give it the respect it deserves. I think I’ll make it a blog topic and really explore the question. If you haven’t registered for my website, you should plop your email address into the little box in the top-right corner of every page. This way, you’ll get updates … plus the answer to your question! (I’m not trying to sucker you into registering … it’s just that you’ve asked a bigger question than I think is really appropriate for “comments” within an old blog post. I want to shed more light on it). Thank YOU! 🙂

  3. Hi again,DJ! I thought when I wrote you the note that I WAS posting a blog. So I went to the top of the page as you said and put my info in again. This time I pressed html instead of text. I hope that does it. Otherwise I don’t know what to do.

  4. Hi Susie, it’s complicated. I barely even understand it. The GOOD news is, I see that you have registered and are now part of the team. I will probably answer your question later in the week. I want to think about a good answer. In the very very short term, I recommend clicking on “My Story”, then read a little about how I did it (I think it’s the second link on that page). This should shed some light on it and give links to ingredient lists that you can use, etc. More soon! Thank you! 🙂


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