Food makes our family go ’round. Tacos, surprisingly enough, has made it to our list of “approved by all” meals, meaning the picky children will eat it, too! Maybe it’s the fact that it’s set out in dinner-jump-up style so they can all pick their taco styles for themselves. Or, perhaps, just perhaps, it’s the deliciousness of what we’ve come to call “gourmet tacos.” Either way, it’s a win-win for us! There was one thing I had to figure out, though. How could we have taco-nights with less salt? My family seems to have a higher predisposition to conditions like high blood pressure. To help keep us healthy, I try to cook with less salt. Generally speaking, small changes, like switching from one ingredient to another when making tacos, won’t make much of a difference. But, when you make one change after another, that’s when you start seeing results.
To give you an idea of what kind of results you can get from switching up your salt routine: While pregnant with one of our kids, I had borderline high blood pressure. It was there, but the doctor, knowing I was pregnant and didn’t want to be on much medication at the time, offered a tip: Cut out the salt. So, I went as salt free as I could. I also went from needing medication to having healthy blood pressure again. I have since weaned “back” on to a normal amount of salt. But, I learned about healthy amounts and that I couldn’t continue keeping on as I was if I was going to hang out with my children for a long, long time.
So, how do we go from having an epic taco night with taco seasoning packets to having a GOURMET taco night while trying to be just a bit healthier? It’s a simple change. Get rid of the packets and use salsa instead. Let’s face it, you were probably going to put salsa on your tacos after they were cooked anyways. Just cook the meat in salsa after its browned and drained. It’s that simple. It smells amazing and it tastes just as awesome. My husband likes to let the salsa and the meat simmer for at least 20 minutes until it’s not very watery (soggy tacos, anyone?). It also makes for excellent leftovers.
How can this affect your salt intake? Let’s take a look at McCormick’s original taco seasoning packet versus Pace’s original picante sauce (medium, for the curious) because that’s usually what I find on sale at the grocery store.
Serving size: 2 tsp of the dry mix (seasons two tacos, according to their website). For those two tacos in seasoning alone, you get 380 mg. of sodium, 4 grams of carbs, 1 gram of sugar and 20 calories (it all adds up!).
Serving size: 2 tbsp of the sauce (about what I use for two tacos). For these two tacos, I get 250 mg. of sodium, 2 grams of carbs, 1 gram of sugar and 10 calories. So, not only do I take in less sodium, but I’m also getting less carbs and calories for more enjoyment out of my two tacos. Even better: It’s gluten free!
Now, maybe you’re a five-taco kind of person. Or not too worried about what two tacos will do to your body. But, when you think about the two tacos you had, the night of hamburger helper, the bad midnight-decision of a can of Spaghetti-O’s, bacon with Sunday morning breakfast and those salted peanuts for snack everyone says we should eat because they’re healthy proteins… well, you can see how it could add up easily.
But don’t take our word for it. Try it yourselves and let us know how your #GourmetTacoNight turned out!
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