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

Honey Veracha Chicken & Rice

This post has been sponsored by True Made Foods in conjunction with NC Blogger Network. I received compensation in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

I’m not one to use Sriracha in recipes because my tolerance for super hot sauces is a bit lower than most folks. I love spicy foods but when things are too hot, I feel like they lose flavor over the heat of the spice.

That is why, when I was ask to give True Made Foods’ Veracha sauce a try, I was a bit reluctant at first. However, I quickly learned that Veracha stands for Vegetables + Sriracha. That’s right… the secret to True Made Foods sauces is that they contain vegetables! For a conscious eater like myself, I love the idea of products combining flavor and nutrition. The Veracha sauce contains carrots, butternut squash, and spinach. I know what you’re thinking, “But can they really hide vegetables in their sauces?” I had to find out!

True Made Foods was kind enough to send me a bottle of their Veracha sauce to sample, along with their Ketchup and BBQ Sauce. Since I was unsure as to how spicy their Veracha sauce was, I opted to make a slow cooker version of Honey Sriracha Chicken. [I’ll include that recipe below.] The combination of honey with the hot sauce cuts out some of the heat.

To my surprise, the Veracha sauce is not at spicy as Sriracha. Don’t get me wrong, it still has a kick to it, but the heat of the spices are not over-powering. It is packed full of flavor — delicious, mouth-watering flavor! There’s a hint of sweet to it just before it delivers a wonderfully spicy heat. It is incredible! And did I mention that it’s made with vegetables? This sauce is truly the best of both worlds. I will never make Honey Sriracha Chicken again. From this point forward, I only make Honey Veracha Chicken!

Since True Made Foods created such an amazing hot sauce, I knew that I couldn’t wait to try their Ketchup too. It also contains carrots, butternut squash, and spinach. Their ketchup has 50% less added sugar than most other brands! Y’all… this is amazing ketchup! It is tangy and sweet, and the perfect thickness. It makes other brands taste watered-down and bland. You have got to try it for yourself!

IMG_1165

You can find their products in a number of places. You can place an order online via their website, or you can find them in select Super Target and select Whole Foods. Their Veracha and Ketchup can also now be found in all Lowes Foods!

True Made Foods is making American food healthy, turning empty calorie foods into nutrient dense foods. Their hot sauce is pure Paleo, and their Ketchup and BBQ Sauce are also gluten free and vegan. All are non-GMO!

Fun Fact: The carrots and butternut squash used in these products come from family-owned farms in Eastern North Carolina.

Please follow True Made Foods on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you’re looking for an easy recipe for these products that highlights their incredible taste, consider Honey Veracha Chicken & Rice!

INGREDIENTS
3 chicken breasts
1.5 cups water
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons TMF Veracha sauce
1 tablespoons TMF Ketchup
salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS
Place chicken breasts into the slow cooker.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine together the remaining ingredients.
Pour mixture over the chicken breasts.
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

IMG_1168
When chicken is cooked thoroughly, remove from slow cooker and shred with a fork.
Remove 1.5 cups of the Honey Veracha chicken broth from the slow cooker and set aside.
Return shredded chicken to the remainder of the broth and adjust the slow cooker to warm.

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
1 cup white Jasmine rice
1.5 cups Honey Veracha chicken broth
2 zucchini
small onion
coconut oil

ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS
In a saucepan, bring Honey Veracha chicken broth to a boil.
Stir in rice, cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
In a separate saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté diced zucchini and onion in coconut oil.
When tender, add cooked rice to saucepan containing sautéed vegetables.

IMG_1169
Serve shredded chicken with rice, and enjoy!

*Because I absolutely love the flavor and can’t get enough of it, I drizzled a small amount of Veracha sauce directly on top of my chicken for an added kick of spices. 🙂

 

NC Blogger Network Triad Meetup

UPDATE: This event is being rescheduled. When a new date is available, I will update everyone with a new post. Thank you!

Hello blogger friends! I am hosting a fun meetup next month, and I hope that you will join me. It will take place on Thursday, September 1 at 6:30pm.

This will be the first NCBN Triad Blogger Meetup of 2016, and my first meetup hosting as NC Blogger Network’s Triad Ambassador.

The event will be held at the newly re-branded Wolfgang Puck Kitchen + Bar at Friendly Center in Greensboro. Enjoy an evening of socializing, free appetizers and a drink special* (complements of the restaurant), and the chance to win a door prize.

NCBN Triad Meetup
During our event you’ll get to mingle and network with area bloggers and their influential friends, gain insight about the NC Blogger Network (if you aren’t already a member) and learn who is blogging practically in your own backyard.

The meetup is open to all members, non members, and bloggers in general. Seating is limited, so be sure to grab your tickets early, and please bring a friend! Click here to RSVP.

*You will be responsible for purchasing your own drinks and any additional food.

Hello, NCBN friends!

Y’all… I am so excited to be a part of the NC Blogger Network. I wanted to send a quick hello to any new friends who may stop by and check out my [somewhat recently neglected] site. I am looking forward to getting to know you all, and meet my fellow Triad bloggers. I would love for you to leave a comment to let me know that you’ve stopped by! Thanks 🙂

NCBN