What’s a better meal to celebrate being half way through the week than with some simple, no-mess, no-fuss tacos? Growing up, my mom would often ask me what I wanted for meals for the upcoming week when she was preparing her grocery list and menu planning for the week. The chances were high that I would say tacos (or macaroni and cheese…from the Blue Box, of course). For some reason, I just loved her tacos with all the toppings piled high, the taco sauce poured on, and juices dripping down my hands as I bit into it. Once I picked up my taco to eat, I didn’t set it back down until I had eaten the last bite for fear it’d all fall apart. I’m not the only one out there who did that, right? ….right?!
I’m sure my mom loved my idea of having tacos on a regular basis, because they’re so simple to whip up on a week night. Recently, I guess I was being a little nostalgic (as food often can do for me), and wanted some tacos just how I remembered them…same taco sauce and all. My mom always used the taco seasoning packet that has all the spices measured out; you just dump it into the browned beef or cooked chicken, add in some water, and you’ve got taco meat. It was simple and, I’ll admit, very delicious.
As much as I love the ease and taste of the seasoning, I didn’t like what I saw on the nutrition facts label of the package…a lot of sodium! In just a single serving of the mix, there can be over 400 mg of sodium…about 20% of our sodium needs just in the meat alone! What’s the big deal, you ask? Too much sodium can cause water retention in our bodies, leading to high blood pressure. High blood pressure puts a lot of strain on your heart and blood vessels, which can eventually lead to heart disease. No, thank you. (For more info, the American Heart Association is an excellent resource).
I know I get plenty of sodium from my food throughout the day (realistically, probably much more than I need), and I figure, why should I buy a product where I know I can make it myself and prevent at least that 400 mg from getting into my system? I may not be able to stop the sodium from occurring in some of the foods I eat, but if I can prevent it, I sure will try. Which is why I made my own Salt-Free Seasoning Mix—no one has to know the difference.
This is my go-to taco seasoning and I add it to tacos, soups, and anything else that needs a mix of seasonings with a Mexican flare. It’s a matter of throwing a bunch of spices into a bowl and stirring it up. Easy enough, right? It makes about 2 1/2 tablespoons—more than enough for a pound of ground beef.
Here’s the line up:
It’s a spice family! Doesn’t it look like an extended family reunion picture? While taking the picture, it made me laugh a little as I imagined who was who…I mean, can’t you see the little ones in the front with Grandma and Grandpa Powders in the back? I may have had a little too much fun rearranging the spices to fit their “role”. #notashamed
Seriously, though, with all these different seasonings (practically your whole spice cabinet), how could you even miss the salt? (You don’t, by the way!) It has such a great spicy—but not too spicy—flavor to it; with all the spices, each lends a different depth of flavor to the mix—there’s nothing boring or un-flavorful about it!
Speaking of spice cabinets, I thought it’d be a good time to showcase the pride of my kitchen: my spice rack. It’s the entire spice family! :)
When I moved up to Madison this past summer and was slowly getting everything organized just the way I wanted in our new kitchen, I knew it was time to get my spices in order. We found the adjustable rack at Target and I love how it can expand as my spice family grows. :) Just opening up my cabinet makes me happy now—every spice visible and alphabetized (if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a Type-A personality). Ahh, so much better than having to rummage around, realizing you have three containers of the same spice. It’s definitely one of my favorite parts of my kitchen. #stillnotashamed
Alright, enough side tracks already! For the spice mix, gather your spices up and measure in chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, paprika, ground cumin, and black pepper to a small bowl.
Mix it all together until all the spices are well blended and store in an airtight container ’til you’re ready for some tacos! I don’t have kids, but I was thinking while making my mix that this could be a fun way to involve your kids in the kitchen…maybe even a hidden little math lesson, too? #nerd
The great thing that I love about homemade things (similar to my Homemade Cinnamon Granola) is that you can totally make it your own. Love garlic? Add in more garlic powder. Don’t like spice? Cut back on the red pepper flakes. It’s totally your call.
So, now that it’s the middle of the week and you’re ready to celebrate with some tacos with your freshly made taco seasoning mix, it’s as simple as making it from the packet. Mix in 2 tablespoons (or more or less depending on how spicy you want it) of seasoning and 1/3 cup water to a pound of browned beef or shredded, cooked chicken. Let it simmer for 10 minutes and you’re ready for tacos!
These tacos, piled with lettuce (I actually used kale, but I liked it just the same), tomatoes, black olives, and cheese, brought back memories of my childhood. So colorful, spicy, and absolutely delicious! I suppose next I’ll be craving some macaroni and cheese…
Salt-Free Taco Seasoning Mix
Yields 2-1/2 Tablespoons
- 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
- 1-1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Combine all ingredients and mix until well blended.
- Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
- To prepare the tacos, add 2 tablespoons of seasoning mix and 1/3 cup water to a pound of browned and drained ground beef or shredded chicken. Let simmer for 10 minutes before serving.