Instant Pot Glazed Pork Belly Ramen (Carbs and Fewer Carbs)

ramen

Happy Sunday!

I am embarrassed by how long it has been since I’ve last posted. I think in addition to being caught up with life, I have been somewhat apprehensive to post what I make as I have been doing the Keto/Low-Carb lifestyle since the end of July. Not everyone is on the bandwagon, nor should anyone feel forced/pressured to do so by my posts. Sometimes, I do miss cooking my regular meals, but for now, this is the lifestyle that I am pursuing, and I am happy to report that it is one where I feel great. I’ve lost 37 pounds (with a goal to lose 10 more), but most importantly, I have a lot more energy. I’m not as sluggish. My knee pain I had from hiking has never returned.

I know a lot of people on the Keto/Low-Carb lifestyle tend to sound like a MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) campaign, but truthfully, it has worked for me. I don’t like condoning or promoting it, but somehow, my results have inspired tons of people around me to try the lifestyle as well. I have been called the “Unofficial Keto Coach,”and I am okay with it. I’ve been trying to inspire people more so to feel confident that they can make food that tastes worthwhile that meets their dietary preferences. All it takes is patience and a willingness to research.

My last post was my Keto Italian Meatballs.  They are delicious and remind me of what I ate growing up. Since I’ve started this blog, I refuse to a post a recipe until I am 100% satisfied. And for anyone who knows me, I am entirely too much of a perfectionist, and thus, my posts have slowed. But I am starting to realize that I have inspired a lot of people to try this diet, and while the trend is there, I figured–why not continue post what I make each night?

Since I’ve started my journey, I have been challenging myself to try to make foods that not only suit my nutritional needs and dietary preferences, but also dishes that my husband, and other members of my family, can equally enjoy. I love to entertain, so I try to make dishes that not only meet my “macros,” but also are delicious and satisfying for someone who isn’t necessarily eating this way.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that it is easy to make everything Low-Carb/Keto friendly. It isn’t–I’ve had enough failures and disappointments to know. Keto baking is especially a tough challenge, but I have learned to love making my Keto Blondies! I will post those soon and attach a link when I do.

When it comes to Keto/Low-Carb Cooking, I’ve learned that when I want to re-create something I’ve made before, I have to be able to use almost all of the same ingredients for it to be the most successful. If you make too many substitutions, it resembles nothing of the original recipe. For example, one of my first recipes I made for Keto was a Chocolate Cheesecake. All the ingredients that naturally are in cheesecake (cream, eggs, cream cheese, butter, etc.) are already Keto–I just needed to replace the sugar and the graham cracker crust. And now that I’ve done this type of eating for about six months, I’ve come to love the sugar substitutes like Monkfruit and Erythritol (Lakanto and Swerve are my favorite brands). The only thing I don’t love is the price tag for all of these products…but hey, hopefully with more demand over time, the prices will go down!

Okay, enough about the Keto/Low Carb Lifestyle. Let’s get to the Ramen!

So as I said, when I cook, it has to meet the needs/tastes of not only me, but also my husband. While I appreciate his support, the truth is, the man doesn’t want cauliflower rice every night. He wants and needs carbohydrates (his activity level is insane). And noodles, my friends, have plenty. But I wanted Ramen…and I thought about all my cooking adventures thus far. Bone broth is a Keto staple and is super healthy (collagen, anyone?) All the ingredients other than the noodles themselves are Keto, so I thought about what I’ve been using as my pasta replacement lately: Tofu Shirataki noodles. I am not going to lie–they are NOT pasta, but when used in a broth, they fit the Ramen bill, for sure. P.S: My favorite pasta replacement so far is Palmini Noodles (Hearts of Palm). That’s been the closest.

For this recipe, I wanted to utilize the one-pot-wonder–the Instant Pot. They’ve become so popularized and cost-effective lately, which makes me happy! I don’t use it all the time, but for this Ramen, the pressure cooker makes an excellent stock. In addition, I love the sweet and salty flavors of Asian cuisine, but I knew I couldn’t use regular sugar/brown sugar. So I’ve called in Brown Sugar Swerve for my glaze. Also, soy sauce is arguably somewhat low-carb (there’s debate on that–I don’t want to get into it). Most Keto/Low Carb bloggers will tell you to either purchase Coconut Aminos instead of Tamari (Gluten Free Soy Sauce). I have the latter, and I think it’s super flavorful and more accessible.

If you are looking for a recipe that you can make that is Keto/Low Carb that you can also share with someone who isn’t, this is the one! Just make the noodles separately and you’re good to go. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

2 pound pork belly

2 tsp salt

1 cup yellow onion, chopped (about one large onion)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (or 1 teaspoon of dry ginger powder)

2 ounces of package dried shiitake mushrooms

8 cups beef broth, low sodium

4 tbsp soy sauce (I used Tamari–you can also use Coconut Aminos if you’re into that!)

4 tbsp Swerve brown sugar (if you’re not trying to make it Low Carb, use regular brown sugar)

2 package Ramen Noodles, flavor packet discarded (This is for the person eating regular noodles)

1 package of Tofu Shirataki Noodles, drained (Low Carb/Keto people only!)

1/2 cup green onions, chopped (optional)

A few shakes of Trader Joe’s Umami Seasoning (optional–two shakes per individual bowl, stir in the broth before serving)

Japanese marinated soft boiled eggs (optional) <–Note: these ingredients are not Keto/Low Carb, so you could just make a regular soft boiled egg. However, these are the flavors for the traditional soft boiled egg you get in a good Japanese place.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pat pork belly dry with a paper towel and sprinkle generously with salt.
  2. Put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the Instant Pot and put it on “saute” mode.
  3. Add pork belly to Instant Pot once it’s preheated, brown on 1 side for 3-4 minutes. Cook it with the fat cap down.
  4. Lift the pork belly up, and add onions. Stir around for a minute not to burn.
  5. Flip pork belly, brown on the other side 2-3 minutes and place on top of onions.
  6. Add garlic and ginger, cook 2 more minutes–stir occasionally.
  7. Hit “cancel” and then “pressure cook – high” and set for 25 minutes.
  8. Before closing the lid, add dried shiitake mushrooms and beef broth.
  9. Lock lid and switch pressure release button to “sealing”.
  10. While the Instant Pot is working its magic, take out the Tofu Shirataki noodles out of the package and drain/rinse well in a colander. (If you aren’t making anything Keto/Low-Carb, skip this step).
  11. Also during this time, you can make your soft boiled eggs (if you haven’t done so already–the fancy Japanese ones are linked to the ingredients above). Simply boil about 2 quarts of quarter and once it’s boiling, drop the eggs gently with a spider strainer and cook with the shell on for 6 1/2 minutes.
  12. While eggs are cooking, prepare an ice bath. Get a bowl and fill it with ice and extra cold water. You will put the eggs in the “ice bath” when they’re done cooking to stop them from overcooking!
  13. Once the eggs are cooked, put them immediately in the ice bath. You may peel them in about 5-10 minutes. You will slice them in half vertically for the best presentation.
  14. Pro Tip: Use the same boiling water for the regular Ramen. When you’re about ready to serve the Ramen, use the same water by cooking the Ramen for 3 minutes in the water, stirring occasionally. Drain.
  15. When the Instant Pot beeps, you may either quick release or slow release the pressure. I did a “quick release.”
  16. Once the pressure is released and you can open the lid, remove the pork belly and set aside on a cutting board.
  17. Slice pork belly into 1/2 inch slices.
  18. Add pork belly slices to a frying pan with soy sauce and brown sugar. Stir and make sure all pieces are coated.
  19. Work with a wooden spoon, being careful not to break up the pork belly and not to burn the sugar, slowly turn the pork belly so all pieces become evenly coated in the sugar mixture, this will take 3-4 minutes. It’ll turn like a reddish hue.
  20. Remove glazed pork belly slices, set aside.
  21. Drop Tofu Shirataki noodles into bowls for people who are Keto/Low Carb. Drop regular Ramen noodles for everyone else.
  22. Split broth into 4 large bowls for serving.
  23. Add a quarter of the pork belly slices to each bowl.
  24. Garnish with green onions and a soft-boiled egg sliced in half. (optional)

Italian American Style Meatballs (Keto/Low Carb)

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I grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood and every Sunday, we all ate as a family and had meatballs and pasta. It was a given, it was never questioned, and it was delicious. My grandmother made the best meatballs, and although I am sure all of us show favoritism towards our family members when we say “this is the best,” my bias stands–hers were the best and always will be.

My mother, my aunt, and I have tried to keep our memory of her alive through her recipes, and her meatballs are no exception. But as of two weeks ago, I started the diet that is the antithesis of all that is Italian–the Keto diet.

For those of you who are not familiar, the Keto diet is one of the strictest forms of a low-carb diet. For my body type, I am only allowed 18 net carbohydrates. The FDA suggests (assuming a non-specialized diet) a significant amount more: “The FDA recommends that 50 percent to 60 percent of your total food intake comes from carbohydrates. The percent daily value for carbohydrates, as shown on food labels, is calculated for the average adult consuming about 2,000 calories per day. Percentage daily values for carbohydrates assume you consume about 300 grams of carbohydrates per day.”

So you may think, if the FDA is suggesting 300 total carbohydrates, how can you possibly survive on 18? Well, the Ketogenic diet (a.k.a Keto diet) changes your body’s fuel source so that your food intake percentages are largely dependent on fat. In fact, the Ketogenic diet has people eating 70% of their daily calories from it! It’s a totally new way of eating.

The foods on the Keto diet are delicious–steak with butter, eggs and bacon, cheese (need I say more?); however, the limitations are challenging, especially when you are traveling, you’ll have to do some hardcore research beforehand. In fact, I just came back from a trip to Tennesee, and every time we went to a restaurant, I had to make modifications, Google the ingredients and nutritional facts. Sugar and carbohydrates are in so many things we eat that it’s tough to navigate at times. Honestly, if you are on the Keto diet or considering it, make sure you mainly cook at home, meal prep if you have to.

I thought the second I went on a low carb diet (especially the restrictive Keto diet) that Italian food would be out of the question. It took me a bit of time, but I recreated my grandma’s meatballs and used her techniques. All I had to do was substitute the bread crumbs and bread. Every other ingredient is Keto approved–ground meats have no carbs, eggs are welcome, herbs, pecorino romano cheese, etc.

When you go on a diet like Keto, there are recipes you’ll find abound, especially on Pinterest. However, as someone who loves to cook and develop recipes, I made it my mission to combine what my grandmother would do with what I would have to do in order to these meatballs okay for me to consume. I did not want to sacrifice flavor nor texture.

I made my own Italian seasoned “bread crumbs” by freshly grinding pork rinds, Pecorino Romano, and Italian seasonings. I used 647 Italian bread (lowest carb, but most certainly resembles regular bread), soaked it in heavy cream instead of milk (believe it or not, milk has carbohydrates and sugar!). I made my mixture as grandma would, with a soft touch to make the texture airy and light. I also had to make a lower-carb tomato sauce as many tomato sauces are not allowed (jarred already made sauces are the worst–but even crushed tomatoes have natural sugars).

I aimed to be able to replicate, not merely substitute my grandmother’s meatballs, and I believe I was successful. This is evident as even my carb fiend of a husband highly approved. (He had spaghetti with the meatballs and sauce, the lucky devil). It honestly tastes just the same!  After carefully calculating, my math works out that my meatballs are a welcome addition to a low-carb diet. I calculated 2 carbs for three meatballs, 4 for 6 meatballs. Pasta sauce is 5 carbs for 1/2 cup serving, and I only needed a 1/4 cup (maybe even less!)

Note: Before you make your meatballs, you must make your own Italian “bread’ crumb mixture. All your spices you should have already in your pantry, especially if you’re a lover of Italian food. Nothing crazy fancy here. Pork rinds are your friend…tasty and 0 carbs! The “bread” crumb mixture will make a bit more than you need, so feel free to make a lower-carb Chicken or Eggplant Parmigiana with it! 🙂

Enjoy!

Ingredients for Italian Seasoned “Bread” Crumbs

  • 1 cup of Pork Rinds, ground **Please see note!
  • 1 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano, grated (feel free to substitute grated Parmesan as well, but I like Pecorino Romano the best!)
  • 1 teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Onion Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoons of Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dried Parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Dried Basil
  • 1/2 Dried Oregano

**Note: I used my dry container on my Vitamix to grind the pork rinds, but any food processor or blender will do. You’ll need about half a bag of Pork Rinds. You can get these at the dollar store. Seriously. The brand I used is Brim’s Snack Foods. The bag is .3 oz (85.g), and I only needed half the bag to get the 1 cup of ground pork rinds).

Directions for Italian Seasoned “Bread” Crumbs

  1. Gather all your spice ingredients, grated cheese, and a bag of pork rinds.
  2. Grind up about half a bag of pork rinds to the texture of traditional bread crumbs. You will need exactly one cup, so measure it out!
  3. In a bowl, combine pork rinds, grated cheese of choice, and spices. Use a form to combine evenly.
  4. You will use 1 1/2 cup of this mixture for the recipe, leaving with a cup for you to spare. Feel free to store in a jar and stick the “bread” crumb mixture in the refrigerator for later use.

Nutritional Information for Italian-American Meatballs (Keto/Low Carb)

Total  Size: 30+ Medium-Sized Meatballs (Serves 4-6)

Nutritional Macros (Three Meatballs): 2 net carbs, 3 total carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 18 grams of fat, 19 grams of protein, 255 net calories

Nutritional Macros (Six Meatballs): 4 net carbs, 7 total carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 36 grams of fat, 37 grams of protein, 509 net calories

Nutritional Macros for Rao’s Sauce with Lei Mangia’s Modifications (1/4 cup): 2 net carbs, 2 total carbs, 0 grams of fiber, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 67 net calories

Nutritional Macros for Rao’s Sauce with Lei Mangia’s Modifications (1/2 cup): 5 net carbs, 5 total carbs, 0 grams of fiber, 13 grams of fat, 1 gram protein, 134 net calories

Ingredients for Italian-American Meatballs (Keto/Low Carb)

  • 1 1/2 pounds of Ground Beef, Pork, and Veal (it’s usually labeled meatloaf/meatball mixture in a grocery store).
  • 3 Medium Eggs
  • 1 cup of homemade “Italian Seasoned “Bread” Crumbs”** (Recipe above for the breadcrumbs–please don’t actually use bread crumbs and kick yourself out of Ketosis! I am saying you need to use the Pork Rind version, duh.)
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup of Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese (or Parmesan Cheese0
  • 2 slices of 647 Bread, diced (Please, no substitutions. If you do, you are under your own risk. This is the only bread I can find that is low enough in “net” carbohydrates to make this recipe possible!)
  • 1/2 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3-4 cloves of Garlic, minced fresh
  • 1/2 cup of freshly chopped Parsley
  • 1 28 ounce jar/can of Tomato Sauce of your choice***

***Note about tomato sauce: Be mindful of carbohydrates and sugars in whatever sauce/crushed tomato mixture you use. I use Rao’s as that only has 4 carbs per serving (1/2 cup). I add garlic and olive oil and fresh herbs to the sauce, and believe it or not, the garlic cloves count as carbohydrates. I used to add sugar to my sauce or grate a carrot, but that is off-limits here. If you simmer the sauce a while, it should taste great! Read your nutritional labels, people! Again, you will have 1/2 the carbs if you only use 1/4 cup of sauce.

Directions for Italian-American Meatballs (Keto/Low Carb)

  1. Heat up your choice of tomato sauce (I use Rao’s). I sauteed 6 cloves of minced garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil, and once garlic was fragrant, added the jarred sauce. Before serving, I minced up fresh parsley and basil to taste. Be sure to stir the sauce from time to time.
  2. While your sauce is heating through/cooking, prepare your meatball mixture.
  3. Mince up at least 1/2 cup of parsley. Grab the bunch, cut off the stems (use only the leaves). Roll up the bunch in a tight bundle and chop parsley relatively finely.
  4. Next, peel and press/mince garlic.
  5. After prepping your ingredients, get a liquid measuring cup or bowl and fill with heavy cream.
  6. Next, take out your two slices of 647 bread. Dice into small cubes. Put cubes in cup or bowl with heavy cream to soak for a few minutes.
  7. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, and veal mixture. Crack three eggs. Take your cloves of garlic (or use a garlic press) and put in the same bowl.
  8. Next, add Italian seasoning, grated cheese, fresh parsley, and liquid bread mixture. Yes, include all the cream as well as the soaked bread.
  9. With a light hand, combine ingredients, making sure to evenly distribute all ingredients. Do not overmix!
  10. When everything is evenly mixed, use a medium cookie scoop and press meat mixture into the scoop and squeeze out. Roll the mixture into your hands into a ball. Make sure all meatballs are evenly sized! You should have at least 30 (my recipe made 33).

Methods of Cooking Meatballs

  1. Use a baking sheet with a rack (if you don’t use a rack, you will have a fatty, congealed mess) and bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees.
  2. Pan-sear the meatballs in a skillet with olive oil (cast-iron preferred).
  3. Put the meatballs in your sauce to slowly cook.

**I personally baked the meatballs to get them started, and then I seared them after. There’s nothing like the crispy edge of a meatball. I used my Blackstone Grill to sear all the meatballs at once as it is quite messy and time consuming the fry the meatballs. But man–is it a tasty step. You decide! 🙂

To serve meatballs, dollop your tomato sauce on top (but please measure, if you’re counting carbs) with more fresh parsley. Garnish with basil, if desired. If you would like, add a side of fresh ricotta cheese–it’s a fabulous combination! 🙂

Sunday Sous Vide Egg Bites (Just like Starbucks)

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Happy Sunday!

Meal prepping. Keto (Ketogenic) diets. These are all trends as of late. And even though I’m not following a high fat diet for weight loss, I can say that these Sous Vide Egg Bites would make any dieter feel like they were not dieting at all.

Often times, I don’t have time to make breakfast in the morning. But I love a hot breakfast, particularly a sucker for eggs and bacon. So usually I’ll stop and blow $5-6 a day on breakfast alone when I don’t have to! By making these ahead, I can have my hot eggs and bacon without having a tasteless, rubbery result.

Sorry Instant Pot Fans: I have tried to make these by buying the silicone mold for an Instant Pot, and while  they’re good, they’re not as great as the ones I’ve had at Starbucks. I find it the Instant Pot that the eggs are a bit watery from condensation.

And although I love my Instant Pot for many things, I have to say that if you want to truly recreate these Egg Bites, you need to use the Sous Vide (French for “under vacuum”) technique to get the perfect consistency. The ingredients also play a part in its perfection–the cottage cheese gives these eggs a light airiness (I have tried with sour cream and it’s too heavy!)

Sous Vide is my favorite way of cooking as of late. It’s not quick, but it’s the best. By making my eggs this way, I get creamy, custard-like eggs that are beyond satisfying. There’s no other cooking process that can give you this texture. It’s surreal!

To make these eggs, you’ll need (4 ounce) small mason jars and a Sous Vide (I have an Anova, but I’ve heard great things about Joule as well.) Hopefully, you have these already. If you don’t, you need to–you’ll be making these every week. I have not made a different make ahead breakfast for work in over a month! Still in awe with these lovely cuties! Plus, by making these, you’ll only be paying about $4.00 for a week’s worth of breakfast instead of $5.00 a day at Starbucks.

Ingredients
4 eggs
4 tablespoons of cottage cheese
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese**
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese**
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 pieces of thin bacon cooked crisp
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese for broiling (optional)                                                           1-2 dashes of hot sauce (optional, but listed as an ingredient for Starbucks–it gives it a slight tang!)

****Cheeses can be substituted, but if you want it to taste like Starbucks, you’ll need to use Gruyere and Monterey Jack Cheese. I love using just Cheddar sometimes! Use what you have and love!**

Directions

  1. Fill a stockpot or Sous Vide container to your minimum water line. Set your Sous Vide Cooker at 167 degrees.
  2. While the water is heating up,  add 4 eggs, 4 tablespoons cottage cheese, the 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese, salt, and hot sauce to a blender. Puree until it is a uniform mixture.
  3. Spray 4 jars (I use half-pint wide mouth jelly jars) with a non-stick spray. Break a piece of bacon into each jar. Pour egg mixture into jars. Wipe the rim of the jar to make sure it is clean, then place the lid on the jar. Place jars into the sous vide. Feel free to use tongs if you feel the water is too hot to handle.
  4. Once the Sous Vide has reached 167 degrees, cook eggs for about 35 minutes or until they are completely set. Note: If you use a bigger jar (like a regular 8 ounce jar), it will take longer!
  5. Remove eggs from the jars when they are done. Sprinkle additional shredded Gruyere cheese on top, and broil until they jut turn brown, if eating immediately.
  6. If saving for later, let cool down and then put into the refrigerator to eat during the week.
  7. For reheating during work mornings, take lid off of jar and microwave for 30 seconds. It should come right out of the jar by shaking it down if you sprayed the jar well! If you don’t have time to broil the top, just microwaving is fine–it’ll just have the creamy texture.
  8. Repeat every Sunday, if you’re crazy like me. 🙂