Tri-tip Street Tacos with Grilled Pineapple and Onion
Who’s ready to fire up the grill, and fill the neighborhood air with the smell of smoking Carne and chilies? Mmm…delicioso. These medium-hot tacos combine smoky beef, sweet juicy pineapple, lightly grilled onion, creamy avocado, and the clean bite of fresh cilantro.
This recipe for Tri-tip Street Tacos with Grilled Pineapple and Onion happens to be gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo. Serve with your favorite gluten, grain, or legume-free tortillas, depending on your current dietary needs. (Tortilla recommendations below...)
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A street-cart dinner on our honeymoon in Sayulita, Mexico (back in 2005) inspired this taco recipe. We were strolling through town one dusky evening when we were lured in by the aroma of sultry, chile-rubbed meat as it sputtered and charred on a rotating vertical spit. Atop the meat was a bright gold pineapple getting kissed with caramelization by the flame.
We ordered a couple of tacos and the cook deftly shaved crispy bits of meat into fresh tortillas. Then, with the tip of his knife and a flick of the wrist, he hurled little bits of hot pineapple into the air, catching them in the taco cradled within his hand.
It’s a food memory so vivid I can still see, smell, and taste it.
Further Reading: How to Grill a Perfect Steak Every Time
This recipe does feature dried chilies, so if you are sensitive to nightshades, you may want to check out some of my nightshade-free Mexican-inspired recipes like:
If you tolerate them, cooking with dried chilies is a fun way to bring home some authentic Mexican flavor, and if you know how to use them it doesn’t have to be a five-alarm, fire-extinguisher-to-the-mouth kind of meal. The goal, after all, is flavor, not pain (unless you’re into that sort of thing).
In this recipe, I used 2 dried Ancho Chilies and 1 Chipotle.
Ancho Chilies are dried Poblanos, which are commonly available fresh, and known for their starring role in Chile Rellenos. They are mildish in flavor, with dark and earthy characteristics, and a slight heat that increases as they age.
Chipotle Chilies are jalapenos that have been dried using smoke. Because of this, they infuse dishes with a wonderful smoky flavor and a lot of jalapeno-style HEAT. Use them sparingly.
To coax the most flavor from this wet rub, I first toast the chilies in a dry skillet, just until they’re heated through and aromatic. This “wakes them up,” so to speak, releasing the aromatic oils and flavor molecules. Alternately, you can do this on the grill over medium heat.
Let the chilies cool before breaking into pieces and discarding the stems and seeds. Don’t forget to wash your hands with soap afterward to remove those fiery oils before you accidentally rub them into your eye and spend the next 45 minutes in excruciating pain (don’t ask me how I know that).
A surprising bit of food trivia: Contrary to popular opinion, the heat in chilies does not come from the seeds, but from the white inner membrane of the peppers. Capsaicin, the fiery oil in chilies, apparently originates in those ribs, but the seeds do get infused with those fiery oils from being in contact with them.
With fresh peppers, it's easy to cut away and remove this white pith (and the seeds along with it) to tame the spice level. This is trickier with dried chilies, where the capsaicin seems to coat the inner surface of the chili as they are shrunken and wrinkled during the drying process. In my experience and opinion, removing the seeds from dried chilies does help tame the heat, and some bitterness too. You’ll still get plenty of heat without them.
After toasting, breaking up, and removing the seeds from the dried chilies, put the broken chili bits in a coffee mug or other heat-proof vessel and pour hot water over them. This helps rehydrate and soften the chilies so that you can blend them up for a paste-like marinade—a.k.a. wet rub. This will cling to the meat as you grill it, giving it a nice crust and lots of flavor.
If you taste the wet rub before adding it to the meat, you’re likely to think it’s way too spicy, but rest assured, once combined with the grilled meat, onions, pineapple, tortilla, and avocado, it’s a just-right medium kind of heat. If you’re not afraid of a nice, well-balanced kick, you’ll love these tacos.
Choosing Your Tortillas
When I started my healing journey as a Thyroid Thriver back in 2015, taco night meant taco salad night for me, which was fine, but admittedly, it was a bit of a bummer. I love taco salad, but a taco just isn't a taco without a tortilla!
Today, gluten, grain, and legume-free tortilla options abound! While I haven't tried them all I have found some I thoroughly and happily enjoy.
Choose the type of tortilla that adheres to your current dietary needs:
- Gluten-free Tortillas: If you eat corn, traditional corn tortillas are usually gluten-free, but you'll need to carefully check the label since some brands add wheat flour for pliability.
- Grain-free Tortillas: If you eat legumes, you'll love Siete's Chickpea Flour tortillas. They have a bubbly texture that's reminiscent of flour tortillas and they're quite durable, so you can really load them up. They also provide 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein per serving. Look for them in the freezer section.
- Paleo Tortillas: There are an increasing number of good options here, as long as you understand that Paleo tortillas are going to be different and often more delicate than traditional tortillas. A few favorite brands:
- “The Real Coconut” Coconut Flour Tortillas - Before Siete took over the Paleo tortilla scene, these were my favorite. They remind me of a corn tortilla texture. Look for them in the refrigerated deli foods section.
- Siete Almond Flour Tortillas - Admittedly, I have yet to try these but have heard good things. If you tolerate nuts, this could be a good option. Good news: I recently saw bulk-size packages available in the freezer section at Costco. NOTE: Almonds are on the very long list of goitrogenic foods. Experts recommend that Thyroid Thrivers try not to consume almonds and almond products in excessive amounts, as a dietary staple, or raw.
- Siete Cassava Flour Tortillas - Before I tried Siete's Chickpea tortillas, these were my favorite and I still use them often. They're so tender, and remind me of a very thin flour tortilla. They hold up fairly well if well-steamed and not overloaded, and are often found in the freezer section. This variety was also recently spotted in bulk-size at Costco (in the freezer). NOTE: Cassava is on the very long list of goitrogenic foods. Experts recommend that Thyroid Thrivers try not to consume cassava and cassava products in excessive amounts, as a dietary staple, or raw.
- Grass-finished Beef (a.k.a. grass-fed beef) contains up to five times more Omega-3s than conventionally raised beef. Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation in the body, as well as boost immunity. Clean animal protein such as grass-finished beef or pastured pork contains thyroid-supporting nutrients like iodine, selenium, zinc, and tyrosine.
- Avocado is rich in healthy fats like oleic acid, which can help reduce cholesterol. It is also one of the few foods that helps the body produce glutathione, a super-antioxidant that can boost immune function, detoxify the liver, and help combat autoimmune symptoms. In addition to several antioxidants and key thyroid-supporting nutrients, avocado is rich in fiber with 14 grams per fruit. This supports digestion, a healthy microbiome, and overall gut health.
- Cilantro: Studies have shown that cilantro can help accelerate the body’s excretion of mercury and lead. Heavy metal toxicity from mercury has been linked to an increase in thyroid antibodies.
- Garlic has many powerful healing properties, which can aid or alleviate some of the symptoms of thyroid conditions such as inflammation, cardiovascular issues, decreased immunity, and increased infection. It can also support the liver in its detoxification efforts.
Happy cooking, happy thriving, and enjoy the recipe (below)!
P.S. If you're anything like me, when I started down the path of thyroid-healthy eating I had questions-- lots of them. What I didn't have was a step-by-step system, to get me where I wanted to go. I wasted a lot of time piecing together bits of information about what to eat, what to avoid, and HOW to make thyroid-healthy dietary changes. That’s why I created the Thyroid-healthy Meal Plan Kickstart. Ready to harness the power of thyroid-healthy eating? Let’s get you kickstarted! Learn more HERE.
More Paleo Recipes:
- Beef Borscht
- Lemon Dill Chicken
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
- AIP Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Parsley, Garlic & Olive Relish
- Thai Peanut Chicken Skewers
- Broth-poached Chicken with Summer Tabbouleh
- Ginger Basil Chicken Salad