You may not suspect this, but those little packets of taco seasoning at the store are loaded with little uglies like MSG and other preservatives that your loved ones don’t need in their blood stream. You can probably make taco flavor from stuff you already have in the pantry! This recipe is participating in LifeAsMom’s ultimate recipe swap- eating from the pantry challenge, and Cooking Thursday hosted by Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.
Taco night is one of my quick supper nights, although since I’ve gotten over my onion aversion, it takes a little longer to pull this together as the chopping and cooking of onion adds 5-10 minutes. To shave off a little time for this meal I decided to pre-mix some taco seasoning so I just have to get one spice bottle out, and it’s got plenty of taco flavor included.
I don’t know why, but I still don’t care for pre-ground black pepper, but I do like it fresh ground from the pepper mill. I left the pepper out of my mix, and will just add pepper at cooking time.
This is a good time for me to toot the horn of herbs and spices. While they don’t contribute much energy to our diet, they are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants. In fact 14 of the foods in Dave Grotto’s 101 Foods That You Could Save Your Life book are herbs and spices. Here are a few tips on optimizing nutrients from spices.
- buy spices whole when possible and grind your own just before cooking. a coffee mill works well for this.
- avoid large economy sizes. not only do spices lose some of their flavor punch, but their nutrient quality declines with age.
- buy your spices from a store that has good product turn over. you want to avoid buying a spice that was ground ages ago and sitting on the shelf for who knows how long.
- store your spices in a dark cool place. sunlight exposure can hasten the depletion of nutrients.
- feed tiny tummy’s spices too. don’t be afraid to feed herbs and spices to your youngest eaters. they like flavor too and will benefit from all the antioxidants.
I have to admit that I rarely grind my own spices as it adds extra time to the prep phase. I have the tools and supplies to do so, but usually opt out. I’m trying though! This recipe contains 6 foods on Dave’s 101 list (noted by * below).
Taco Seasoning Recipe (based on this allrecipes.com spice ratio)
2 TBSP Cumin*
5 TBSP, 1 TSP Chili Powder*
2 TSP Red Pepper Flakes*
2 TSP Garlic Powder*
2 TSP Onion Powder*
1 TBSP, 1 TSP Paprika*
2 TBSP, 2 TSP kosher salt
1 TBSP, 1 TSP black pepper
Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and combine. Return spice mix to an airtight container or empty spice jar. Per your taste, add 1/2- 1TBSP of this mixture to 1 lb of cooked ground meat. Add it in larger quantities to make taco flavored soups. You should get 8-16 servings assuming you’re flavoring 1lb of meat. Add a label to your spice mixture with the amount to use “1/2-1 TBS per lb meat” so you don’t forget!
Note: This mixture is forgiving. If you’re out of something, leave it out. My grandma just used salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder to season taco meat, so that’s all I usually use. It is a slightly different flavor than the packages, but your family will get used to it over time. Also, this doesn’t contain flour or cornstarch, and it doesn’t call for adding water, so this won’t give you saucy meat, rather, flavored meat. That’s the way we roll!
Stay tuned for my premixed chili spice blend. That recipe makes it super easy to get the crock pot going with a pound of beans on a weekend morning for a pot of chili.
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