If there is anything I’ve learned so far this year about eating smarter, it’s that almost everything we eat has sodium in it. Did you know that? It’s pretty clear to anyone who reads the nutrition label on a package how much sodium they’re getting with it, but what some people don’t know is that too much sodium can be harmful in the long run.
That’s not to say that everyone should avoid sodium, however, because our bodies need sodium believe it or not. The problem with sodium is that a lot of us are eating too much of it.
The American Heart Association recommends “no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.”
A large number of popular taco seasoning packets on the market today come with a range between 250-380 milligrams of sodium for just 2 teaspoons. If you look at the back of the packet and follow the recipe on it, you’ll notice that the recipe calls for using the entire packet with 1 pound of ground beef. Let’s say you use the whole packet. That’s a minimum of 1500 milligrams of sodium added to your ground beef, not including any other toppings such as store-bought salsa, taco shells or tortillas, sour cream
How much sodium is in 2 tacos?
Let’s say you’re able to make 10 tacos using that 1 pound of ground meat. That would make each serving 150mg of sodium assuming you only used the seasoning packet to season your meat with. Now let’s say you made yourself 2 tacos with the following ingredients/toppings: queso fresco (220mg of sodium in 1 ounce), sour cream (10mg in 1 tbsp), and two flour tortillas (150-250mg per tortilla).
You’re looking at 830mg of sodium in 2 tacos that don’t even have greens or salsa on them yet. Let’s not forget that a lot of us typically have a side to go with our tacos as well!
Can you imagine how much more sodium you’ll be adding to your meal with a side of rice or beans?! It adds up quick, doesn’t it?
That’s exactly how we were eating for far too long. Never paying any attention to the amount of sodium we were taking in. You want to know where that led us after years of this? In the hospital.
Why? Because we were eating too much of the bad, and not enough of the good.
How to start making smarter choices for a healthier lifestyle.
Start making your own dressings and seasoning mixes. This homemade taco seasoning, for example, will give your recipes the most flavor possible with a low amount of added salt. The addition of cornstarch not only serves as an anti-caking agent for storing, but it also helps the spices adhere to the meat or vegetables you’re cooking, and therefore give you a more flavorful dish.
Start educating yourself about the food you eat by reading the nutrition labels if you haven’t already. If you find yourself wondering what some of the ingredients are, a simple google search will help you find the answer. You can also do a quick search in the USDA Food Database, or download a food database Ap like CalorieKing on your phone. The extra work is worth the effort, trust me!
Another important step in getting healthier is to know your numbers. Visit your primary doctor and ask questions. If you don’t have a primary doctor, find a nutritionist, or a professional healthcare provider who can help get your blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure counts. Knowing those numbers and where you personally need to be to stay healthy will help you get started on a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Maintaining healthy eating habits takes work in the beginning. Everything new does. But that doesn’t mean we should give up so easily. Slow and steady is always a great way to start.
I hope you give this recipe a try. And don’t be afraid to tweak it to make it your own special blend. 😉
Low Sodium Taco Seasoning Recipe
- 1 tsp red chili powder like cayenne
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 3/4 tbsp ground cumin seed
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano or ground oregano
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp Crystal Diamond Kosher Salt
- 1/4 tsp sugar**
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander seed
- Measure out all of the spices and cornstarch and place in a small bowl. Use a whisk (or fork) to thoroughly mix the ingredients until they’re well combined. You can taste the mixture and if desired adjust any of the ingredients to your taste.
- If not using right away store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. The mix will keep fresh for a couple of weeks and after will begin loosing it’s flavor.
Sugar is added to help boost the flavor of the spices. This seasoning is a medium-spicy level so if you’d like a milder version cut the red chili powder in half or more as desired.