Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Sometimes, when walking through the grocery store these days, I feel a bit like I'm wandering through Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.  What?  Oh boy, Lori's gone crazy again...  Ok, hear me out.  For the last 2 years, I have given up added sugar completely for Lent... and let me tell you, THAT has been an eye-opening look into our food supply (fruits were allowed, as well as bit of honey for tea and coffee, but everything else was off-limits).  As I became an obsessive label reader (you practically have to have a degree in chemistry to recognize all the terms food companies use to disguise sugar as an ingredient), I was shocked to discover that pretty much all processed foods contain sugar of some kind. Yogurt, canned kidney beans, crackers, cereal, bread, pasta sauce, dried cranberries, seasoning mixes... the list goes on and on. There was even sugar (dextrose) in my table salt!!!!!  What in the world is going on?!?  It's like I've stepped into this strange world - "That's right kids.  Everything in here is edible.  And it's all made with sugar!" 

Sugar is EVERYWHERE.  And EVERYONE knows that sugar is bad for us (sorry Willy - I'm all for having fun and using our imagination, but I could do without the sugar buzz).  No one can deny this. It has absolutely no nutritional benefit.  In fact, it's incredibly damaging to our bodies.  So why, pray tell, is it in almost EVERYTHING we eat? 

As I began my 40 days with no sugar, it quickly became obvious that I would have to make almost all my food from scratch.  It was the only way to avoid sugar.  Thankfully, I was already making my own bread, yogurt and cooking dried beans, but many other foods required effort and creativity.  Our family eats massive amounts of Mexican food, so after checking the label on our taco seasoning and finding - you guessed it - sugar on the list (and some other ingredients I wasn't thrilled about), I decided it was time to ditch the store bought seasoning and make my own.

This is the recipe I came up with.  It's a flexible recipe, that can easily be tweaked for your family's preferences.  You could add a pinch of cayenne pepper if your family prefers something spicier.  If you are trying to monitor your sodium intake, you could reduce the salt amount.  It can also be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled if you don't feel like mixing up new batches all the time.  The original recipe makes about the same amount of seasoning as one of those single use taco seasoning packets.  We rarely use that much seasoning at once, though.  I simply mix the ingredients in a large spice bottle and sprinkle on the seasoning to taste. 

  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 tsp black pepper

Combine all the ingredients and shake to mix together.  Done!  I usually double the recipe and to make life easier, I wrote out the recipe right on the spice bottle with Sharpie marker, so I don't have to go searching for the recipe each time I refill the bottle.  The chili powder goes fast when making this recipe, so it might be wise to buy chili powder in bulk at Costco or GFS Marketplace.   

So there you have it - simple, easy taco seasoning without additives - no corn or wheat flour, modified corn starch, maltodextrin (sugar), autolyzed yeast extract, whey solids (milk), "natural" flavor (can anyone tell me what natural flavor is ???) or carmel color.  Just real simple food.  How hard was that?

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