Spicy Tri Tip Tacos

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This was my first tri tip experience. Our typical meaty go to is marinated and grilled flank steak, but to find it grass fed and somewhat local is a task. They are priced about the same, 2 lbs of grass fed for about $24.00, which served along other side dishes will feed about 3-4 people. I loved the cooking method as it was out of the ordinary for me and the taste was fabulous! The tender meat combined with the spicy and bold flavors of the rub was amazing. I’ll be stocking up on tri tip in the future and experimenting with different dry rubs and serving ideas.

For this dry rub I used a generous amount of sea salt, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cilantro, hot pepper flakes, and freshly ground pepper.

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I had to Google how to prepare a tri tip. Ha! The method made me a little nervous because I didn’t want to end up with a tough, grainy, chunk of meat. Tri tips are thick and grass fed meat isn’t very fatty and doesn’t provide a lot of marbling for tenderness. Thankfully, it all went well and was so fabulous I’ve been thinking we may need another one this week.

It’s important to pay attention to the natural direction of the grain prior to coating with the rub and cooking. My hand is pointed in the natural direction of the grain.

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The secret to enjoying certain types of meats that would otherwise be tough, is not only in the preparation but also in how long it rests after it’s been cooked and especially the angle at which it’s cut.

After it’s cooked, you’ll cut it in thin slices against (across) the grain.

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Once you’ve trimmed off any large pieces of silver skin, place the meat into a dish prior to coating with the rub.

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Then begin sprinkling and patting the rub all over the meat, making sure every nook and cranny is nicely coated. Cover, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours or it can also be prepared a day ahead of cooking.

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Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (or close) for about 30-45 minutes. Set the oven to 450 degrees (I used convection). Heat a dry (don’t add oil) ovenproof pan to medium high/high and sear the meat on both sides until almost blackened. You’ll need a well working stove top fan for this…mine is pitiful so I had to open all the doors and windows for a cross breeze. You can also do this entire cooking process on a grill as long as your grill heats very, very, well and consistent. I started mine off on our grill and was worried it was taking too long and would overcook so moved to the kitchen method instead.

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Once it’s seared really well on both sides, put it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. I used convection which cooks faster. 8 minutes with convection will get you medium rare, 10 will get you medium. Of course, the ends are thinner and smaller so they will likely be closer to medium regardless of time. If you’re not using convection, cook for 10 minutes and test with a meat thermometer. For medium rare about 125-130, medium/medium well 135-140. But keep in mind that it will continue cooking for the first few minutes it’s resting, so you  may want to take it out a touch sooner than what the thermometer is telling you to do.

Remove from the oven and let rest uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

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While the tri tip was cooking and resting, I sauteed some peppers, onions, and garlic for the tacos. When that was done I added black beans and sauteed until the beans were heated through.

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Super easy meal from beginning to end. And quick, which you don’t normally experience with a thicker cut of meat. Once the meat has rested, remember to slice thinly against the grain for tenderness.

You can top the tacos with anything you like. Cheese, salsa, whatever sauces you think might go well. I had planned to make a creamy cilantro sauce but then discovered I didn’t have cilantro available like I thought. Next time! Even without a sauce, they were fabulous.

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Spicy Tri Tip Tacos

*I’ll give a run down of ingredients. The cooking methods are above with the photos.

1 Tri Tip Roast, they are typically around 2lbs

(The amount of seasoning will vary by your taste and the amount of heat you want.)

These are approximates as I didn’t measure…

2 1/2 teaspoons of Sea Salt

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Garlic Powder

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Chili Powder

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Cumin

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Oregano

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Cilantro

1 teaspoon of Hot Red Pepper Flakes

Several Grinds of Fresh Peppercorns

2 Bell Peppers

1 Large Red Onion

Chopped Garlic (I used two large cloves)

About 1 teaspoon of Oregano

About 1 teaspoon of Chili Powder

1 Can of Black Beans, rinsed and drained

Avocado Oil for sauteing vegetables

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Grain Free Blueberry Breakfast Cake

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I’ve been very mindful of my diet the last couple of weeks. I can almost hear the collective eye roll from people who can eat “anything”. Such is life. I can’t eat anything I want, although I’d certainly like to, so therefore I have to be really aware of what I feed my body. I am always gluten and dairy free. But even with abstaining from gluten and dairy, there are plenty of inflammatory foods that if eaten on a regular basis, can cause some significant issues for me. We’ve talked about the effects of the inflammation bucket in the past, and over the last few weeks, mine has been spilling over.

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I’ve been in what I would consider a “medium” Lyme flare for 6 weeks. It took me a couple weeks to even recognize what was going on because I had been feeling so good for several months prior to the flare. It’s as if I had almost forgotten I even had Lyme if you can believe it! The flare is a reminder that even when we’re feeling really good, we can’t forget that our bodies don’t work like the average Joe’s body. We have to stay on top of things even if what we’d really like to do is  forget we’re in a battle with a very smart and nasty and potentially deadly, bacterial infection.

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One major component of a Lyme flare is inflammation. I swear inflammation is the root of all evil when it comes to illness. Once you get past the point of mild inflammation, things just get uglier from there. It can take several weeks to several months to get it back under control. So as soon as it finally dawned on me what the heck was going on, I went into inflammation battling mode.When we can put out the flame, our immune system can fight its battle properly.

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The first thing I always do when I recognize a flare is examine my diet and lifestyle and start asking myself a lot of questions. Have I been too loosey goosey? Inflammatory foods aren’t just problematic for the obvious reasons, they also cause gut issues which further imbalances the immune system. Am I detoxing enough? Detox is something people with Lyme have to keep up with on a regular basis. Our livers need help getting rid of toxins. Are my intestines eliminating on a regular basis? (In other words, we need to be pooping a lot, and often!) Am I eating enough vegetables that feed the good bacteria in my gut (pre biotics)? Do I need to consider switching up my supplements and probiotics? Have I been too generous with gluten free grains, sugar, and ignoring my stress level? Have I been exercising to much or too little? Have I changed something that may be causing issues?

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Self care has to stay consistent in order to keep the Lyme bacteria in remission. Consistency isn’t always easy. Sometimes flares are completely out of our control, but other times, it can be due to sticking our heads in the sand and not sticking to a good health plan. Stress is the number one issue for me when it comes to my immune system. The second issue is germy, sick people whose germs wiggle under the radar. And equal to pesky germs, is the impact that my diet choices have on  my body. I have to be careful because any imbalance in my immune system and it flies off on a negative health tangent. Making sure my self care is at top notch (which it wasn’t), helps me deal with attacks on my immune system.

I have also had to remind myself that even when I’m feeling great, gluten free grains and other inflammatory foods can be a big problem if I add them to my daily diet. Because I was feeling so well, I was being a little careless with the inflammatory foods. My body can process them and handle the inflammation if I indulge every now and then, but not on a regular basis.

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So, the last two weeks while I’ve been practicing intuitive eating (see my last post), I’ve also been experimenting with different types of foods to see how my body reacts. I eat two or three meals a day with anti inflammatory, very clean foods, and then every couple of days I’ve been trying one item with gluten free grains, or certain potatoes, or other inflammatory foods. It’s been interesting to see my body’s response. Very telling.

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I’m getting reacquainted with my body in different ways and am getting the inflammation under control. Sometimes it takes a painful and worrisome setback for us to be mindful and remember that self care and consistency need to be the foundation of healthy living. It’s back to basics and grain free foods with a major focus on anti inflammatory foods and detox.  I’ll save the little indulgences for special occasions.

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Going “Back To Basics” certainly doesn’t have to be boring though! This breakfast cake is grain free and dairy free. It can also be made without refined sugar by using coconut sugar in the frosting.

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Grain Free Blueberry Breakfast Cake

*Makes 16 servings

3/4 Cups of Coconut Flour

1/2 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

1/4 Cup of Arrowroot

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar

6 Tablespoons of Dairy Free, Soy Free Butter

3 Eggs

1 Cup of 100% Full Fat Coconut Milk

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon of Pure Almond Extract

1 1/2 Cups of Frozen (or fresh) Blueberries

For the frosting I just did a basic powdered sugar frosting. Powdered sugar, almond extract, melted dairy free butter, a little water to thin.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9 inch square pan with parchment and coat with non stick spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Cut in the 6 Tablespoons of butter. Add the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla and almond extracts, and whisk to combine. Fold in the blueberries.

Spread the batter into the pan and bake (I use convection) for 35 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan by grabbing the edges of the parchment liner and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely and frost.

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Grain Free Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake

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I know, I know. It’s a little early for all things pumpkin. For most people it’s like cilantro, they either hate all the Fall flavored stuff or love it. I’m obviously in the last category. Even though our days are still in the 80’s and 90’s, our mornings are much cooler now and typically in the low 50’s. Perfect for coffee cake and a nice cup of tea or coffee. I’m so tired…of eggs, or smoothies, or dinner leftovers for breakfast. In fact, a few times over the last couple weeks I’ve settled with just a miserable little apple until lunch because I was feeling so uninspired about my breakfast plan. I’ve changed my mind set though, and now I’m focusing on switching it up a bit and adding a little more excitement.

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I’m taking the coolest three week class called, “Love Your Body” through a therapist I know. She’s a Body Image Recovery Coach, and the Founder of MindSexBody Decide To Be Healthy. She studied Executive And Professional Coaching at the University of Texas at Dallas, and is currently studying Human Sexuality at Widener University…and she is full of all kinds of information pertaining to the history of body shape, objectification, and the space where fact and fiction collide where society has completely lost their minds about what healthy looks like. I have learned so much!

One of the tools we’re working with this week is intuitive eating and exercise. Intuitive eating is truly thinking about what your body needs for energy, nutrients, and satisfaction, rather than suffering through meals that are not fulfilling your personal needs. When we’re just going through the motions (or emotions) with our meals, we end up eating fast, bored to death, not being mindful, and end up unsatisfied. That leads to unhealthy food choices and over stuffing because we keep looking for that “something” we’re craving but we aren’t truly paying proper attention to it. It’s healthier to stop and really think about what your body needs at that time. Does it need healthy fats, crunchy, sweet, savory, protein, fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates?  When choosing to be more mindful about what we really need and what we’re eating to fulfill those needs, we naturally transform to the size and shape our body is comfortable and happy with. The same goes for intuitive exercise.

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Examining what type of exercise is the best fit for you personally that is fun, rewarding, and makes you look forward to doing it, makes all the difference. Life is too short to be doing squats if you hate them with a passion. Look for exercises that fit where you are in life. Can you slip in a few walks here and there? Maybe a hike once a week? Or maybe you’re a runner, or a CrossFit enthusiast or a swimmer. For me at this stage in my life and with my individual health concerns, I have found that Pilates and an old Jane Fonda Fat Burners workout works well for me a couple times a week. I also do some serious stretching every morning, sometimes yoga, and we also get some exercise by walking with the dogs. When Fall hits and the weather cools down, I’ll begin hiking again as well. Not because I feel like I HAVE to but because I love it and my body and mind feel better with it, than without.  Whatever it is, find what you love, and you’ll be much more apt to look forward to adding healthy, stress reducing, exercise into your weekly routine.

So maybe for the rest of this week you’d like to join me in focusing on intuitive eating and exercise? If you do, shoot me a note and let me know your thoughts. Lets start focusing on simply being the healthiest body (individually!!) we can be, rather than what the media and the rest of society has deemed to be the standard. Each of us has our own unique genetic make up that makes us who we are. We can treat it properly by focusing on making it the healthiest possible body, by ignoring outside negative voices (and our own negative commentary about ourselves) and by being more mindful of the package we’ve been given to take care of.

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Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 12 Servings.

1/4 Cup of Arrowroot

1/2 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

3/4 Cup of Coconut Flour, sifted

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice

3 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter, cold

3 Eggs

1 Cup of Canned Pumpkin

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

For the Crumb Topping:

1/4 Cup of Coconut Flour, unsifted

2 Tablespoons of Sweet Potato Flour

1 Tablespoon of Arrowroot

4 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar

1 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

6 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter, cold

1/4 Cup of Chopped Pecans

Measure the 3/4 cup coconut flour, 1/2 cup sweet potato flour, 1/4 cup arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and pumpkin pie spice into a large bowl. Cut in the 3 Tablespoons of cold butter. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and maple syrup and whisk to combine.

Spray an 9×9 inch baking dish with non stick spray and spread the batter. Set aside.

For the crumb topping: Measure the 1/4 Cup coconut flour, 2 Tablespoons of sweet potato flour, 1 Tablespoon of arowroot, coconut sugar, cinnamon, sea salt, and pecans into a medium bowl. Cut in the 6 Tablespoons of cold butter and sprinkle over the top of the batter.

Bake for 27 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. I like mine warm with a little pat of dairy free butter!