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Taco Night is a staple in many households. A pound of your favorite ground meat (turkey, chicken, or beef) plus a packet of taco seasoning equals a quick, easy and convenient dinner. But, what exactly is in those seasoning packets? Are they healthy or potentially hazardous?

First, many of these “spice” packets contain less than 2% of spices! So what IS in them? Well, it’s mostly preservatives and salt. They also contain many questionable ingredients such as:

  • Silicon dioxide –anti-caking agent (keeps the spices from clumping together). Basically it’s sand—yes, sand, like at the beach. Silicon dioxide can also be used as insecticide! Sprinkling it on grains and other foods keeps insects away. (So if it keeps them away, why are we eating it?!)
  • Ethoxquin—food preservative used so that spices maintain their color.
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils – also known as trans fats. They raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol. They’re used in foods because they keep for longer periods of time, extending the shelf life of many products.
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – has no real flavor of its own, but is a flavor enhancer for other foods. Some people report adverse effects when they consume MSG—effects like headaches, nausea and sweating/flushing.

Not exactly the healthy kinds of ingredients you want to feed your family.

So, what can you do about it? Make your own taco seasoning! It’s just as quick and easy as ripping open a packet and it’s a much healthier option!

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Recipe: Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

How To:

  • Combine all spices in a small bowl.
  • Brown one pound of your favorite meat.
  • Add 2/3 cup of water to meat and mix in spices.
  • Let simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Serve with your favorite hard or soft taco shells and fixings!

Photo Credits: The Quinntessntial Mommy & Flickr