tacos – hold the meat, MSG, and preservatives

Posted on April 20, 2012


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Taco seasoning packets scare me. Have you ever read the ingredients or nutrition facts label on one?

Here is the ingredients list in a popular brand of taco seasoning packet:

Chili pepper, Salt, Maltodextrin, Spice, Onion Powder, Corn Starch, Yellow Corn Flour, Contains less than 2%: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Yeast Extract, Silicon Dioxide (anti-caking agent), Sunflower and/or Cottonseed Oil, Natural Flavor, Ethoxyquin (preservative).

Um…what?! Why all the weird ingredients?

  • Maltodextrin is a highly process carbohydrate used as a food additive*.
  • Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil is trans fat which is just plain terrible for you.
  • Yeast Extract is used as a food additive or flavoring agent; it’s similar to MSG
  • Silicon Dioxide is a food additive used as a flow agent to help powdered foods. {Isn’t that the same thing in breast implants?}
  • Ethoxyquin is a preservative found in spices to prevent discoloration and in pet food. It has been linked to health problems in pets & fish. {no thanks}

While not all taco seasoning packets have these ingredients, they do have a lot of added sodium. Even the reduced-sodium packets have about 300mg sodium per serving, which is still a lot since you are most likely going to add other ingredients with sodium (tortillas, cheese, table salt, etc.)

Now that I’ve freaked you out, what do you do? Well, you can make your own taco seasoning; there are tons of recipes online for taco seasoning!

You can also use a salt-free, MSG free spice blend like The Delicious Dietitian Southwest Spice Blend, which is all-natural, vegan, gluten-free, salt-free, MSG free, calorie free, sugar-free, and has no preservatives or anti-caking agents. Use about 1 to 2 TBSP Southwest Spice Blend in place of 1 packet of taco seasoning.

Here is an inexpensive {less than $6 for the entire meal!}, meatless taco recipe. It’s hearty enough to please meat-eaters and non-meat eaters alike!

Lentil Tacos

Serves 4

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 1 ½ TBSP salt-free Southwest spice, like The Delicious Dietitian Southwest Spice Blend
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable or beef broth
  • 8 hard taco shells
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • ½ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar or taco blend

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic and salt until onion begins to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add lentils and Southwest Spice Blend. Cook until about 1 minute. Add chipotle chile and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Uncover lentils and cook until mixture thickens, 6 to 8 minutes. Spoon about ¼ cup lentil mixture into each taco shell. Top with lettuce, tomato and cheese. Serve with salsa, reduced-fat sour cream, and/or avocado if desired.

Recipe based on this one from Self Magazine.

*All info from Wikipedia.

Have a great weekend!!