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Low-carb beef tamales and grilled cobs of corn!

Posted on February 28, 2014 by in beef, vegetables

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Low-carb is a buzz word at the moment. People are going crazy with the idea of dropping the bad carbohydrates and replacing it with all the so-called forbidden fatty meats and cheese.

Low-carb to me in essence means, I must drop the bad carbohydrates, the cakes, pies, pasta and my all time favorite POTATOES! Of course when I made the decision to change my eating habits, I forgot about mealies and that I will have to sacrifice them too! Oh  my hat, mealies are the death of me, smothered in butter and grilled on the open fire to catch that smokiness, few things in life can beat that. I did however make the decision  and I am going to stick it out, but I have to admit, when I saw the informal greengrocers on the street corner with mealies, I could not resist buying some.


The idea came to me as  I drove home, what if the mealies  feeds both sides of the family, those who still eat carbs and those of us who follow the low-carb diet? I have this obsession with spicy food and specifically Mexican food at the moment and I have always wanted to make tamales. Tamales however is made with masa, a starchy corn-based dough, so not a good idea on a low-carb diet, but I like the idea of each person eating from his little “parcel” made with mealie leaf wrappers. So I cooked my beef mince in the wrappers and made mealies with chili butter for the carb lovers….. same vegetable, used in two ways to feed my family! Win – win! If you don’t share my love for mealies or could not care to make these low-carb tamales, simply cook the beef mince and serve in on rice or mashed sweet potatoes.


Low-carb  Beef Tamales

serves 6


1 red pepper – chopped

1 green pepper – chopped

1 yellow pepper chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 onion – finely chopped

30 ml olive oil

5 ml ground cumin

5 ml smoked paprika

5 ml dry oregano

500 g beef mince

salt and pepper

410 g tinned tomatoes

2 blocks (20 g) 70% dark chocolate


Heat a pot on the stove and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, peppers, and all the spices and saute until the vegetables are soft. Add the beef mince and keep stirring so that the beef can brown. Place the lid on and cook for about 5 – 10 minutes on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add a  little water if necessary. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes to reduce the mixture. Add the chocolate, it gives the sauce a lovely color a deep flavor. Now remove the leaves off the mealies and place two overlapping leaves on a work place. spoon some beef mince onto the leaves and cover with two more leaves. Close the sides with string or strips of the mealie leaves. Repeat until all the beef mince are “packaged” Pack in a oven-dish and bake for about 10 minutes before serving.


To serve:


250 ml sour cream

500 ml grated cheese


Remove the tamales from the oven and place one or two tamales on a plate, open slightly to reveal the beef and top with a good dollop of sour cream and grated cheese. Serve with a simple tomato salsa or salad.


Grilled Cobs of Corn

For the Cobs of corn, follow this link to the recipe for the Chili and Basil Butter

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4 Responses to “Low-carb beef tamales and grilled cobs of corn!”

  1. Zirkie 6 March 2014 at 6:44 pm #

    Heerlik!! Ek is mal oor mielies!

  2. Roenie 7 March 2014 at 6:42 am #

    Hi Nina, good idea – low carb meals. I do think though that you should do more research. You use onion, tomatoes, dark chocolate and spices, served on rice or sweet potatoes – all high in carbs.
    This is not meant to shoot you down. We – the low carb eaters – always welcome new recipes. I suggest you download the Carb Counter list from Atkins site. Do not forget to calculate Nett carbs though. (carbs – fibre).
    Remember, in the first phase, you should not take in more than 20grams of nett carbs per day.
    Also, Atkins have plenty of recipes. You could help a lot by converting them to South African ingredients.

    • nerinatimm 10 March 2014 at 7:31 am #

      Hello Roenie

      Thank you for your comment, no offense taken! I think my problem is that I should stay away from the terminology! I have been on diets and eating patterns my entire life and a few years back I swore never to do it again. So as a family we have just cut out all the bad carbs, like potatoes, pasta, rice etc….. We feel and look 100% better, but I swore never to count another carb, calorie or fat in my life. My weight has gone roller coaster since childhood and I do not want my children to live through that. I hear you and I will try and word it better and surely try and adapt, but I do not want to have a “thing” about it!


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