Back to Earth Tacos | Got To Be NC Beef

This post has been sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. I received both monetary and product compensation in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

Nestled along the banks of the Uwharrie River near Asheboro, North Carolina is the picturesque home of Tom and Janice Henslee. They share their home with Janice’s mother, as well as a number of bees, free-range chickens, three adorable Brussels Griffon pups, and a field of grass-fed cows. There is plenty of wildlife, too, on the 110 acres that is Back to Earth Farm.

I had the pleasure of spending a morning with the Henslees. They welcomed me into their home to chat about the history of the farm, explain how their farm operates, and share their plans for the future. As I hung onto their every word, I was excited to hear that we share similar beliefs in holistic health and nutrition.

Tom and Janice Henslee
(
photo courtesy of Back to Earth Farm)

In 2013, Tom and Janice moved to North Carolina from Texas to establish Back to Earth Farm. They wanted a place where they could regain and maintain their health: body, mind, spirit, and environment. They “walk to talk,” so to speak, by reconnecting with nature to promote a well-balanced life. Tom and Janice are passionate about renewing the health of the land through regenerative farming practices, connecting communities with a healthy food source, and offering a place for people to learn, rest, rejuvenate, and have fun.

Tom and Janice explained the details of their sustainable farm model. They focus on healthy soil, which produces healthy plants, that will be eaten by healthy animals. That combination makes for healthier people. I was fascinated to learn that Janice had acquired a microscope specifically for viewing soil samples. She explained that she would look for live microbes, which promotes a healthy environment.

These microbes are often nonexistent in farms that use artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. However, the Henslees do not have a need for artificial fertilizers because they choose to utilize managed grazing. Simply put, their cows are contained to an area to feed for a certain period of time. The cows are moved before all of the grass is eaten, allowing the grass in that area to regrow before the cows return to that specific part of the pasture. Using this method allows the cattle to spread their own manure as natural fertilizer.

Did you know that grass-fed beef has 80% less total fat than grain-fed, along with more antioxidants and vitamins? Tom and Janice’s cattle are also GMO free and raised without growth hormones or antibiotics.

After our morning of great conversation, I received a guided tour of the property. There is a serene beauty the encompasses the still-growing farm.

Map of Back to Earth Farm

(image courtesy of Back to Earth Farm)

As we neared the river, the hidden gem of the farm appeared. It’s a hand-crafted cabin made from cedar and pine. The 2 bedroom, 1 bath retreat is available for rent, and includes a full kitchen, heating and air, fireplace, TV, wraparound lower porch, 2 upper-level porches, and a carport. It sleeps 6 comfortably but is not child-proofed.

BTE Cabin

I immediately fell in love with the charm of the cabin. From the gorgeous dining room table handmade by Janice herself to the hammock on the wraparound porch overlooking the river, guests are sure to fall in love with this peaceful getaway. Janice went on to share her dreams for Back to Earth Farm. In addition to their sustainable farm producing nutrient-dense food, she envisions one day offering wellness retreats and educational workshops. For now, she is focusing on growing her most recent inception – a wedding venue! [I plan to write a future blog specifically about Janice’s wonderful ideas.]

BTE Cabin Kitchen

When we arrived back to the house, it was time for me to become Farmer Tom’s chief farm hand. He and I headed out to the pasture to move fencing. The cows heard his whistle and hurried through the field to meet him at the fence line. Like well-trained pets, they knew what was about to happen; it was time for fresh grass to eat. As he reeled in the line, I removed the temporary fence posts from the ground. The cows were very interactive, and seemed just as interested to see me as I was to see them. Tom took the fence posts from me and started to reset them in their new location. I followed behind, securing the line to the posts. And just like that, I became a tiny part of their efforts to leave the land healthier than when they arrived. Restorative farming at it’s best.

BTE cattle
BTE newborn calf
(
The newest member of Back to Earth Farm, a 5-day old calf.)

Before I said goodbye, Tom filled a bag with a selection of meat, from ground beef to filet mignon. I admit that I was a little sad to leave my new friends and the amazing farm that they have created, but I was equally as excited to head home and prepare something tasty with local, grass-fed NC beef.

I love simple, whole food recipes and from-scratch meals. I decided to make tacos with organic, non-GMO ingredients to pay homage to the Henslees and the holistic philosophy that we share.

Ingredients:
1lb grass-fed beef
1/2 small onion (organic)
1/2 bell pepper (organic)
1 zucchini (organic)
3/4 cups water
1T chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1T olive oil

Additional Organic Ingredients:
1 tomato (diced)
black olives (small jar, sliced)
shredded lettuce
guacamole
non-dairy shredded cheddar cheese
gluten free taco shells and/or gluten free soft tortillas

Instructions:
Prepare by dicing the organic vegetables. I love adding fresh veggies to any main dish. They provide extra nutrition as well as offering more flavor and texture to a meal.

vegetables

Add olive oil to a medium-sized saucepan; heat on high. Then add diced vegetables. Sauté until tender.

saute

Remove the sautéed vegetables from the saucepan and set aside. In the same saucepan, add the grass-fed ground beef. Brown thoroughly.

beef

When the beef has finished cooking, drain grease (if there is any; my Back to Earth beef had very little!) and return beef to saucepan, along with sautéed vegetables and taco spices.

combine

Side note: I use spices instead of a prepackaged taco mix. However, there are several great choices available if you do not have individual spices on hand. Check out: Wick Fowler’s Taco Seasoning or McCormick Organic Gluten Free Taco Seasoning. Both are available at local grocery stores.

Add water, mixing ingredients well, and heat to boiling.

taco mix

Reduce heat; simmering uncovered 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until thickened.

To assemble taco, select preferred taco shell. I used both a Garden of Eatin’ brand yellow taco shell and an Udi’s brand plain tortilla, which mimics a soft taco shell.

Add beef mixture, then layer with lettuce, tomato, olives, guacamole, vegan cheese, [I prefer Daiya brand cheese.] or any other topping of choice.

Back to Earth Tacos

There you have it! A simple, whole food taco that is delicious, healthy, and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook.

I have had so much fun learning about local grass-fed beef. There are a lot of choices for consumers when it come to NC Beef, available throughout the state in farm stores, at farmers’ markets, and online. Back to Earth Farm offers online shopping, as well as scheduled deliveries. If you’re interested in learning more about Back to Earth, or scheduling your own farm tour there, please visit their website: Back to Earth Farm

As I mentioned earlier, this post was sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It is an honor to be featured alongside eight amazing bloggers who also toured NC farms and shared their recipes. Please check out their posts below.

Got To Be NC Beef Farm Tours

And What To Make with Your NC Beef

Fall Fashion with Style Encore

If you’ve been following my blog since summer, you’re likely to remember that I fell in love with the Personal Shopping Experience offered by Style Encore. Style Encore is a local consignment store specializing in name brand clothing and accessories. They sell everything from Michael Kors blouses to Tory Burch shoes and Kate Spade purses, among many other brands. All are in barely used, great condition — I have purchased several items with the original tags still attached — and all are sold for a fraction of their retail cost!

I love fashion, but I actually hate to shop. I don’t like fighting crowds in busy department stores. I don’t like combing through racks searching for a style that I really am not sure even exists. If I do find something unique, I never know if it actually looks good on me. I do like the idea of boutiques but the prices are a big turn off. It’s hard to be a fashionista with all of these negatives in my way.

That’s why the Personal Shopping Experience is perfect for me. Style Encore reminds me of a boutique, only better with really great prices. Everything in the store is “one of a kind” since the items are purchased piece-by-piece from many individuals throughout the year. The store isn’t overwhelming in size. And I don’t have to fight the crowds or search the racks! The ladies at my local Style Encore in Winston Salem do that… and cater to me like I’m a celebrity. With a keen eye for current trends, they style numerous outfits in advance and I just show up and try them on! The best part is that I’m assigned a stylist who will give me her honest opinion. No more second-guessing the fit alone.

A Personal Shopping Experience will be perfect for you, too! This is a FREE service offered by Style Encore. Whether you’re looking for a specific outfit for a special occasion or whether you’re like me and just love seasonal updates to your closet, you should consider being styled at Style Encore. Going on a cruise and need cute dresses? Starting a new job and need business attire? Just started a new relationship and need some great date-night pieces? No matter the reason, the Personal Shopping Experience is your must-use styling service!

If you live in or around the NC Triad, you have two location options: Winston Salem and Greensboro. If you live elsewhere, click here to find a store near you.

Here’s how the Personal Shopping Experience works:
1. Stop by Style Encore to pick up a Style Guide (or give them a call, they will email it to you!)
2. Complete the style guide and return it.
3. Schedule your Personal Shopping Experience.
4. Show up and have fun trying on everything!
5. Don’t bother trying to narrow down your options. Their prices are too good to be picky!

Below are photos from my Fall Personal Shopping Experience. I am including three of my favorite outfits, and a summary of my purchases.

  

When you buy or sell clothing to Style Encore, you receive a punch-card. For every $10, you receive a punch. After 20 punches, you receive 20% off your next purchase. I used my punch card on this purchase and saved $46.


Old Navy blazer $10
Mossimo blouse $6
LuLaRoe skirt $12
New Direction shoes $12
Total outfit $40


The Limited blouse $12
Ann Taylor Loft slacks $13
Vince Camuto shoes $18
Total outfit $43


Jennifer Lopez blouse $13
Joe Fresh jeans $9
Naturalizer booties $18
Black necklace $8
Total outfit $48

All of the prices above do not reflect my discount. My final purchases were 18 pieces for $231. After my 20% discount, I paid a grand total of $185. That’s roughly $10 per item! And I received 18 punches on a new card. Over the course of the next couple of months, I should be able to sell back at least $20 worth of clothes so that when it is time for my Spring Personal Shopping Experience, I’ll have another 20% to put toward a new wardrobe! Win-win.

So what are you waiting for? Contact Style Encore for your Personal Shopping Experience today!!

I was not compensated for this post, and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. 

What’s All the Buzz About Burt’s Bees?

Burt’s Bees is a company headquartered here in North Carolina. They describe themselves as an “Earth friendly” company, specializing in 100% natural personal care, health, and beauty products. I can remember the first time I purchased their Beeswax Lip Balm. I was in high school and working at a drug store in Winston-Salem when this item was new. The packaging was simple but eye-catching. Burt’s Bees Beeswax wasn’t in a tube like similar lip balms… it was in a tin. And I loved that about it. It was easy to apply, had a pleasant taste, and made my lips so smooth! I was hooked from the beginning.

A few years later, I found a wholesale company down the street from my college in Greensboro. They offered several other new Burt’s Bees products that were difficult to find in average stores. I immediately fell in love with the Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. It, too, came in a tin. The Sweet Almond Oil and Cocoa Seed Butter left my cuticles soft, which also seemed to nourish my brittle nails. And the smell was unbelievable – fresh lemony goodness! – unlike similar products that had either strong chemical or perfume-y smells.

It makes me happy to now see a large selection of Burt’s Bees products in many types of stores here in NC. Their products now range from toothpaste and throat drops to sunscreen and bug spray. And everything is still 100% natural! I have never used any item from Burt’s Bees and been disappointed. I am a huge fan!

My newest addiction is their Nourishing Lip Balm with Mango Butter. I can’t stop using it!! Do you know how some lip balms drag across your lip and you feel like you have to cake a lot of it on to achieve any amount of smoothness? You won’t find that with Burt’s Bees. This is the easiest applying lip balm ever. It doesn’t gloss over the problem, it truly moisturizes your lips with a sweet tropical flavor.

If you’re interested in checking out Burt’s Bees, visit their website www.burtsbees.com for a store locator or to purchase online. Be sure to check out the Wild For Bees tab too. There are some enjoyable educational videos there. 🙂

Summer Safety

I read tonight on Facebook where two people were arrested for breaking and entering. Do you know how they picked their houses?  The lady in the operation would check her Facebook friends status to see who was out of town!!  Yup, Facebook scoping!  I try to refrain from posting on Facebook when I’ll be out of town. Of course my house is Fort Knox with a monitored alarm system including 8 video cameras that record every movement outside. I’m not really worried that someone would break in but I do get nervous at night if I’m here by myself!

My husband owns his own alarm company with his brother.  They do alarm systems for homeowners and businesses.  They also do a number of other things such as mounting flat panel TVs, hooking up audio-video components, and PC networking.  (That explains why we are Fort Knox around here!) I tell people all the time that they need an alarm system and the response I can’t stand the most is, “I have a 4-legged alarm system.”  Really?!  I don’t care what kind of kill ‘em, chew ‘em up dog you have, if someone comes in with doggie treats, some raw hot dogs, or bologna and throws it out the door… there goes your 4-legged alarm system!  Don’t be that person and don’t kid yourself!

Here are my suggestions for keeping your house summertime safe while you are out of town:

1. Have an alarm system installed & monitored.  You know I had to plug that in there!  But seriously, shop around and find a subcontract company for one of the big names and hire them to do it.  It will be less expensive, trust me!

2. DO NOT post on Facebook or Twitter that you are going out of town!  I don’t care how jealous you want to make your friends and co-workers, someone could be stalking your house! Especially since you bragged about the nice 52″ flat panel 3D TV that you got for Christmas!

3.  DO NOT post about your nice 52″ flat panel 3D TV you got for Christmas!  I know its so easy to brag but you are just feeding the criminal all the information they need!

4.  Have a family or close trusted friend stop by your house at least once a day to turn on a light in the house.  Make sure they turn on a different one each time.  Or have your home automated so the lights come on and go off at certain times of the day.  For more information on Home Automation, contact CommTech LLC or your local alarm company.

5.  Consider adding motion sensor lights to the exterior of your house.

6. Make sure your windows are locked and deadbolts are used on the doors.

7. Have a family member or neighbor pick up your mail & newspapers.  A sure sign that you are out of town is piled up newspapers.

8. Make sure your neighbors know that you are out of town. Ask them to keep an eye out.  And let them know if you have someone set up to stop by your house and what vehicle they might be in.  There is nothing like having the cops called on cousin David because you didn’t inform your neighbor that he would be stopping by!

These are just a few things that my family does when we go out of town.

And if you have an alarm, please use it.  Even if it is not monitored, if a burglar tried to break in the sound alone will frighten them off!

Now go have a Happy Summer!


(Photo credit.)