Every so often, I crave Mexican food. One summer evening I decided to make tacos for dinner. When I looked in the pantry I realized I didn’t have a packet of taco seasoning, and groaned. I had just gone to the grocery store and didn’t want to go again. The only solution to this problem was to make my own seasoning mixture.
Taco seasoning is a combination of chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, and sodium. While reduced sodium brands are available, some are too salty for my taste. Chili powder makes this mixture Mexican, but I think the cumin, with its distinctive, smoky flavor, is the most important ingredient. What is cumin anyway?
According to the Food website, cumin is made with the dried seeds of a plant related to the parsley family. It is available in whole or ground form. The website goes on to say that the word is pronounced KUH-mihn, and I realized I had been saying it incorrectly. If I made my own seasoning I wondered how much cumin I would need.
I found dozens of recipes on the Internet and many seemed similar. All I needed was a starter recipe, something I could modify, and I chose one from the Tablespoon website. As usual, I reduced the amount of salt because I’m salt-sensitive. When salt is reduced, you need to compensate for this with extra herbs or spices. So instead of plain paprika, I used smoked paprika. I doubled the garlic powder, doubled the cumin, added a dash of seasoned pepper, and a dash of cinnamon.
Because I already had these ingredients on hand, I saved gas money and grocery money. From now on, you can bet that I’m going to make my own taco seasoning. This blend tastes good on hamburgers, pork chops, and chicken. It may taste good on fish, but I have never made fish tacos because we prefer beef. While you’re at it, you may as well double or triple the recipe, and keep some on the shelf for future use.
Here is my recipe for taco seasoning.
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular)
3/4 teaspoon iodized salt with 33% less sodium (or less)
Dash of seasoned pepper
Dash of cinnamon
Combine ingredients in a small jar. Get rid of any lumps by pressing them with the back of a teaspoon. Stir until well combined. Put the lid on the jar and shake to combine more. For beef tacos, cook one pound of lean ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until done (I use 90% lean beef.) Add 3/4 cup of water. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the liquid has almost evaporated. (Some liquid should still remain.) Spoon into taco shells and top with shredded Mexican, Cheddar or Co-Jack cheese, chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and fat-free sour cream. Pass your favorite taco sauce or salsa. This recipe makes 6-8 beef tacos.