Loving the BITE: A Healthy Fiesta With Homemade Taco Seasoning

It’s hard to go wrong with tacos.  That is, unless you use the store-bought taco seasoning.  Taco seasoning is one of those seemingly simple products that most consumers believe are made up of a few blended spices.  As they should be.  But, turn the packet around and read the ingredients list, and you’ll find more than spices.

This week, you’ve got an alternative…we’re going to dive into the spice drawer and make our own, delicious, flavorful taco seasoning.   You likely already have all the ingredients.  You likely don’t have all the potential toxins, found in taco seasoning, in your drawer.  Here’s how to make it, and why cyclists and all endurance athletes should throw away the taco seasoning packets.

Recipe of the Week:  Homemade Taco Seasoning

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients with a good shake in a small air-tight container.
  2. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons spice mixture to 1 pound meat or protein.  Salt to taste while cooking.
  3. Store mixture in cool, dry place.

Comments:

Usually I like to keep it positive.  Week after week, we discuss a great whole-food and all it has to offer in terms of both cycling and wellness.  We talk about what you should eat.

This week, we’re going to look at the other side of the coin, at what you shouldn’t eat.  I have a problem with many ingredients in a typical Taco Seasoning Packet.

Take the Old El Paso packet, for example.  The ingredients listed are:

Maltodextrin, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, spice, monosodium glutamate, corn starch, yellow corn flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, silicon dioxide (anticaking agent), natural flavor, ethoxyquin (preservative).

What’s the problem?  

First, in just 2 tsp of a typical taco seasoning, you’ll consume a whopping 560 mg sodium.  Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a stickler on every mg of sodium a client eats, within a healthy whole food diet.  Especially when the sodium comes from salt.  But, when it comes from monosodium glutamate, and other processed food ingredients, I’m not so forgiving (more of MSG below).  And, when it comes in huge amounts like this, the cyclist may have an issue.  You see, an abundance of sodium in Daily Nutrition can necessitate extra sodium needs in Training Nutrition – high sodium eater often need more milligrams of sodium hour to hour on the bike.  Since it’s already hard enough to meet your sodium and electrolyte needs, this can put a damper on your ride (low sodium = cramping, bonking, nausea, etc).

Second, although Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS), monosodium glutamate (MSG) can be problematic for some athletes.  Among the symptoms listed by those intolerant of it include headaches, flushing, sweating, facial pressure, numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas, rapid, fluttering heartbeats (heart palpitations), chest pain, nausea, and weakness.  Maybe even more concerning to cyclists, MSG can trigger severe asthma attacks in those who suffer from it.

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