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


  • 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


  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.


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.

Third, partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  First, I’m not a big fan of soybean oil as it is a concentrated source of omega-6s, which can lead to imbalances of omega-3s:omega-6s and encourage inflammatory hormone production.  But worse, this soybean oil is hydrogenated.  Hydrogenated oils are transfats, which are highly inflammatory and associated with heart disease.  Cyclists depend on strong cardiovascular systems and strong bodies, and there’s simply no place for extra inflammation from hydrogenated omega-6s.

Of course, you’ll want to know why this recipe is great for you.  Click on these links for more information about each ingredient:

Do yourself a favor; get rid of packets of Taco Seasoning this week and make your own in 2 minutes or less.  Once you taste this recipe, I believe you’ll never go back.  With less Daily Nutrition sodium, less chemical ingredients, and less transfats, you’ll feel better day to day and on the bike.

Fuel Your Ride.  Nourish Your Body.

Enjoy Your Ride

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3 Responses to “ Loving the BITE: A Healthy Fiesta With Homemade Taco Seasoning ”

  1. PamelaFaganHutchins on October 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    excellent, and bring on the cumin!!

    • Kelli Jennings on October 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      That’s what I’m talking about…:)

  2. Kelli Jennings on October 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks Amanda, You’ll be happy to know, that when putting these ingredients together, I increased the cumin significantly over other samples:). All testers have said they’ll never go back to packets! Enjoy!


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Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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