Have you ever actually read the ingredients on many of the spice or seasoning blends that you purchase, and ultimately consume? Well, here are a few examples of what you might find.
Silicon dioxide…that’s ‘sand’ to us common folk, one of the main ingredients in making glass. This is added to many, many items as an anti-caking agent so lumps don’t form. Didn’t your parents tell you not to eat sand when you were a kid?
Cellulose powder (or cellulose in any other form)…commonly called ‘sawdust’. This, too, is used as an anti-caking agent…works for beavers & termites!
Then there’s the ever-popular MSG, or monosodium glutamate. This is a flavor enhancer…why add more herbs when you can just throw in a chemical that makes it taste like there are more herbs? Make sense, right? MSG has recently enjoyed a comeback with it’s new moniker, ‘umami’, but it is still the same old MSG that many people are allergic to.
Some of my favorites include ethoxyquin (also used as a pesticide), calcium stearate (also used as a plasticizer for making plastics and as a surfactant, which is the sudsy stuff in detergents), and carboxymethylcellulose (I don’t know what this is, but can you even pronounce it?)
These “ingredients”, along with propionic acid, malic acid, guar gum, and many others, are labelled by the Food & Drug Administration as “food additives”. On average, Americans eat their weight in food additives every year. According to the FDA, a food additive is “any substance the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result…in its affecting the characteristics of food.” In other words, they aren’t “food”, but they do things to our food. Many additives are actually derivates of foods, like paprika oleoresin, added for color…I mean, really…why not just use paprika, instead of a perverted form of paprika?
Because I want to ingest as little of this stuff as possible & because I don’t want my family to ingest it either, I make many of my own seasoning blends. This also allows me to control the amount of sugar & salt that is added to our food…I know, I’m a control freak…Son reminds me…often! Did you know that some Cajun seasoning blends contain over 30% salt? That means if you want more seasoning, you are also going to get more salt…a lot more salt, whether you want it or not. And many seasonings contain sugar or corn syrup derivates, but I don’t really want sugar in my tacos! So I am going to share with you my recipe for taco seasoning. It is sugar free & salt free, so you are free to adjust to your taste! This recipe is also free of sand & sawdust, so it may clump a little. Just break those little clumps up with a spoon & enjoy!
Servings/Yield: about 1 cup, enough to season 8 pounds of ground beef
- ¼ cup chili powder (if you can’t find one at the store without all of the added “stuff”, try making your own with this recipe)
- 3 tablespoons ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Store in an airtight container. Use 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) per pound of ground beef. Brown ground beef, add seasoning, water, & salt to taste; simmer for 10 minutes.