LIVE Your Life

By Shannon Boatwright

“In all the chaos and hurry, do not forget to notice the beauty and miracle of this world. Slow down. Notice. Observe. Be aware. Allow presence and awe to come back into your life.”

-Brendon Burchard

Listen to the sounds of a creek.
Notice and look at the beauty of the earth, the beauty of trees, plants, flowers, their growth.
Be still and allow yourself to take it all in.
Allow yourself to float. Just relax.
Swing on that swing and recognize the joy in the simplicity of swinging gently through the air.
Dance! Allow music to take you away and generate movement in your body!
Run with a kite!
Play with the children. Make the children smile.
Brighten others days, even with just a simple smile.
Make time for those you love. Hug and love on each other.
Love on and listen to your pets. They love you unconditionally.
Recognize the beauty and joy around you.
Take time to recognize the beauty and joy in the simple things.
Play in the sprinkler!
Take adventures. Make adventures.
Spend quality time with friends and family. Really listen and be present for them, for you.
Smell the flowers. Just stop and notice them, look at their wondrous beauty.
Do things that make YOU happy.
Relax on a hammock.
Enjoy dessert!

Don’t let the chaos and hurry of the world steal your joy.

Live your life.

Really LIVE.

(Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aKydKNEmgA)

Letting go

By Jeanne Reynolds

I was in yoga class when it happened.

As I tried to ease into a downward dog (which looks more like a downward log thanks to my lack of flexibility, but that’s another story), the instructor encouraged us to let our necks relax and heads drop comfortably. That meant my eyes were facing directly back at my angled thighs. And that’s when I first saw it.

Loose, crepey skin hanging away from my legs. Like … OMG … old lady skin. Now, I realize I’m part of the Every Woman Blog team to fill a certain demographic, but seriously: When. Did. That. Happen?

And: Now I know why most people wear capri tights for yoga instead of an old pair of bike shorts.

I’ve never been mistaken for a Vogue cover model, but c’mon. These are an athlete’s thighs. Thighs that have run 5 Boston Marathons and regularly lift weights and walk 18 holes of golf once or twice a week. Apparently all that doesn’t overcome the fact that they’re also 61-year-old thighs.

A friend – several years younger, many pounds thinner and a much faster runner than I am – told me she’s noticed the same thing recently. It’s not really wrinkles. As she put it, her skin is letting go of her body.

That doesn’t make it look any better, but the idea of letting go does make me feel a little better. Because being able to let go of some things is one of the best parts of getting older. When I hear people long for their younger days and wish they were 21 again, I recoil in horror. I (vaguely) remember the things I obsessed over at that age that now seem so lacking in perspective. Which of course makes sense, because you can’t yet see the big picture from the bottom of the hill.

I’m realizing there are many things I’ve been glad to let go as I’ve gotten older:

  • Caring what I look like for a quick run to the grocery store.
  • Always having to tell someone when I disagree with them.
  • Feeling like I have to sign up/volunteer/donate every time I’m asked.

Of course, there are many more I’m still working on:

  • Worrying because I can’t ever seem to get everything done.
  • Feeling guilty when I need to say no.
  • Spending more time trying to make things perfect than simply enjoying them.

And there are things I hope I never let go:

  • Challenging myself physically and mentally. I don’t know if or when I’ll run another marathon or go sky-diving again like I did to celebrate my 50th birthday, but I won’t rule it out.
  • Being willing (even enjoying) looking completely silly while doing something fun. Catch me dancing to “Love Shack” and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Believing age is a number, not a definition.

So, fair warning: I’m going to yoga class tomorrow. And if I get the laundry done, I’ll be wearing those same old bike shorts. If it bothers you, I suggest you set up your mat on the other side of the room.

Or just let it go.

letting_go____by_senyan

Product FYI

By Rachel Sircy

Well, this time around, I thought that I would blog about a new product that I’ve recently tried. By “new,” I guess I mean, new to me. I’m not actually sure how long this product has been on the market. The first time I saw and experienced Udi’s Soft White Bread was a couple of weeks ago at a baby shower.

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Since my husband and I decided to travel to Ohio this weekend, I decided to buy some. Sandwiches are the most car-friendly food that I can think of, but it’s so hard to have a good gluten free sandwich without the aid of a toaster. The idea behind this super soft bread is that you don’t necessarily need to toast it. We purchased a loaf for nearly $8.00 at Whole Foods, which is pretty steep for me. We usually purchase Aldi’s whole grain gluten free loaf for $3.99. So, the question is, is this bread worth the high price point?

The first thing that I think is worth mentioning is the size of the bread, which is much closer to a normal slice of bread. I don’t know if this picture of the bread beside my hand actually gives you an accurate idea of how big it is. For those of us who’ve been used to eating tiny sandwiches with those baby-sized pieces of gluten free bread. With this bread you can place a slice of cheese or deli meat without cutting it down to fit the tiny slices of bread.

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As far as taste goes, this bread is good. It fits the white bread ideal, which means that it doesn’t have much of a flavor of its own. It doesn’t get in the way of what is in the middle of the sandwich. I tried it with my homemade chicken salad and it tasted like a regular sandwich.

Texture, as with all  is this bread’s downfall, I think. Yes, it’s soft enough to use without toasting it. Anyone who eats gluten free bread for any reason knows that the unbending, crumbly nature of a slice of GF bread makes it inedible unless you toast it. So, the fact that this bread is soft and doesn’t require toasting is an advantage. However, the texture is NOT like regular white bread. Underdone is the word that most accurately describes how each slice of this bread feels, except for the crust, which is hard and dry, even by gluten free standards. To be fair, I really don’t know how you would make a slice of G-Free bread soft enough to eat out of the bag without feeling a bit underdone.

Here you can see where I took a bite of the bread that included the crust. I immediately concluded that the crust is inedible.

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I tried toasting the bread and it doesn’t make it feel much better. It seems to get the outside a bit crispy, but the middle of the bread is still a bit gooey. The other thing is, despite being soft and pliable, the bread still seems to fall apart somewhat. These lines, which I’m calling stress fractures, appeared in my bread once I cut the inedible crusts off of my chicken salad sandwich.

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Eating a chicken salad sandwich in the car with this bread was easier than I expected. The bread felt like it might fall apart, but it didn’t. I tore two sides of the crust off with my fingers, but I left the other two sides and ate around them. That seemed to help the structural integrity of the bread.

Overall, I think that this bread definitely has its uses. I’m glad that a company is genuinely trying to make a more palatable bread for people who have to eat gluten free. I don’t want to discourage people from purchasing it because I want to support Udi’s efforts to make a better bread. So, let me say this: If you’re taking a car trip and you want to take a sandwich with you, or if you use them (as they did at the baby shower) to make finger sandwiches for an afternoon tea, then this is the gluten free bread you want to use. To sum up, I think this is a pretty good special occasions GF bread. I think, though, that for everyday use, at least at my house, I’m going to stick with the much cheaper Aldi brand.

Saying Goodbye (Or Maybe See You Later)

By Chaunte McClure

Have you ever felt like it was time to leave a job or stop serving on a ministry, but there was an internal tug-of-war between your love or appreciation for what you do and the need to let go? I was speaking with someone earlier who believes God is unctioning her to join a new ministry, which requires her to leave what she’s known most of her life to go to unfamiliar territory. My advice to her was to obey God because she was tugging with the thoughts of what others might say and how she’ll be perceived. Trusting God means putting aside the what ifs for His (unknown) plan.

Sometimes it’s easier to give advice rather than take your own, for I had a tug of war in effect too. I’ve been thinking about this moment for about a year now, after it seemed I had too many balls in the air, juggling home, work, church, school and depression (again). Before long, I was losing my spark for writing and it became a burden rather than an outlet from my day-to-day routines. It occurred to me that maybe, just maybe my season for blogging is ending. I said, but I know women who enjoy reading my posts, God. I really love sharing that I’m an Every Woman blogger, I rebutted. Even before I started typing these words, I told myself that I wanted to make one more contribution prior to saying goodbye. Then I heard, let it go, so I am.

After four years of inviting you into my personal life, inspiring you and taking you back to Grandma’s house during my nostalgic moments, I’m saying goodbye or maybe see you later. There may be times when I’ll have something burning inside that I want to share and if I’m allowed, I will.goodbye

I’ve shared this platform with some phenomenal women, great writers who share some fabulous experiences. I know many of you look forward to me sharing posts on my Facebook pages, but I encourage you to follow the Every Woman blog for personal stories, recipes, advice and more.

It’s been a wonderful journey with you and I thank you for taking the time read, share and comment on my posts. Thank you for encouraging me because even during times when I wasn’t up for writing, because of you, I pounded on keys late at night creating content I hoped you would appreciate. Breaking up is really hard to do, but sometimes it’s necessary.

I’ve asked God, what’s next? I still don’t have an answer, but I’ll trust His plan.

In case you missed any of my previous posts, you can find all 90 of them here. If you are a woman without a relationship with your biological father, please follow my personal ministry blog, Say That, Girl.

Signing off for now,

Chaunte McClure

Eight tips to make family favorites healthier

By Mary Pat Baldauf
If you’re trying to cook healthier for your family, you don’t have to abandon their favorites or resort to tasteless tofu. There are many ways you can make your recipes healthier without dramatically changing the taste. Try these tips on for size:

  1. Decrease the fat: Cut back on the amount of oil, shortening or butter in a recipe by half the amount listed. Instead of cream or half-and-half, try one percent milk or skim milk. Low-fat and fat-free options are also available.
  2. Love the taste of real butter? Try butter flavored olive oil, available at most stores that specialize in premium olive oil, such as The Crescent Olive or The Classy Cruet. It’s not only healthier than other oils, it’s also delicious; I like to spritz it on air-popped popcorn for a treat.olive-oil-968657_1920
  3. Cut the cheese: I love cheese, so this always sounds so wrong to me, but you can usually reduce the amount of cheese in a recipe by up to half without significantly altering the taste. Strong flavored cheeses like sharp cheddar and parmesan are the best to try to cut back. Reduced-fat cheese varieties also are an option.
  4. Lower the salt: My sister-roommate has issues with salt, so I’m always trying to lower the salt in recipes. You can add flavor with citrus juices, vinegars, garlic, onion or pepper. Check your no-salt seasoning blends such as Dash. Also look for lower-sodium versions of your pantry staples, such as soups, sauces and such.
  5. Reduce the added sugar: You often can reduce the amount of sugar by one-half to one-third. You can also try using a sugar substitute suitable for cooking or make a subtle half and half mix. Spices like cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg may also enhance the sweetness in a recipe and allow for less sugar.
  6. Get creative with fruits and veggies: Use pureed fruit, such as applesauce, in place of some of the butter or oil in a baked recipe. I learned how to use pureed vegetables to add flavor and nutrients to foods via my grandmother, who pureed celery for her Thanksgiving stuffing.  The Sneaky Chef series of books by Missy Chase Lupine also serves as a great source of information.
  7. Explore different cooking methods for veggies. Do you usually fry vegetables? zucchini-2340977_1920Try roasting squash, sweet potatoes, onions and zucchini for a tasty side dish. Steaming is a healthy and quick option, too. There are also many varieties of “veggie noodles” at local grocery stores; I personally like the zucchini noodles. You can also make your own with a spiralizer.
  8. Go for whole grain: Whole grains are a rich source of fiber and contain an assortment of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Use whole grains of cereals, breads and pasta in place of “regular” versions. Just remember to check the first ingredient on packaged foods for “whole grain.” When I first tried whole grain pasta, I didn’t like it one bit; now I can’t eat “regular” pasta because it’s so mushy in comparison.

 

 

We’re Only Human

By Shannon Boatwright

Is it ok to sometimes be sad? Is it ok to just cry? Cry because your heart hurts and you need to release the emotions? Is it ok to be mad? Are you sometimes mad at the world and want to throw your own private hissy fit? Absolutely. YES. YES. And, scream it with me, YES!

It’s completely natural to have these moments. We are human after all.

Why am I sharing the above? Well, I tend to be what I call a “Positivity Promoter”. I’m all about positive thinking and positive thoughts leading to everything from success to healing, on all levels. I am a huge user and promoter of the power of imagination and when used in a positive way, I truly do believe that you can genuinely create positive things in your life – whether by simply generating creativity, or actually creating your own success and/or healing with the power of positive thinking and visualization.Its Ok

BUT, and yes, this is an BIG “but”,… sometimes it’s flat out necessary to feel the human emotion of sadness, hurt, anger…Like I said before, we are human after all. Anyone who attempts to be a force of positivity in every single moment, is, well, going to fail. And that’s actually not a bad thing. We need to have our moments of sadness. We need to have our moments of pain. We need to have our moments of anger. Do we want a lot of those moments? Absolutely NOT. But the reality is, it’s a natural part of life to experience pain, hurt, anger and loss. A harsh reality that so very many of us wish that we could change.

The reality also though, is that it’s those moments of sadness, hurt, and anger that help us cling to the positive; to grasp hold of faith, love, kindness, generosity, and goodness – that positive nature that gives us hope. We may not achieve understanding or acceptance, but we gain hope amongst the hurt. The positivity rejuvenates us, fills our hearts with what I’d like to think of as literal smiles… actual happiness.

We are all such unique, special, outstanding individuals. Personal happiness is defined differently within each of us. As well as sadness and hurt – we all experience these emotions in different ways, we handle them in different ways. As humans we are so incredibly beautiful in our own, precious individual ways on the outside physically. And on the inside, physically, we are the same, we have the same parts no matter what our exterior color, size, etc, etc, etc. BUT, we all feel differently, in outstanding, unique ways on the inside. There is no exact equation for how everyone experiences emotion and handles the stresses of life.

So, why is a “Positivity Promoter”, who typically tries to spread rays of sunshine and smiles to all those around her at all times, even daring to speak of recognizing the negative emotions of life? Well, I’ve always delved into the world of harsh emotions – I mean, it really is an inevitable part of human nature. Only those close to you typically will ever have an inkling that you are a real person living in this all too real and harsh world, a person that indeed faces negativity and actually experiences it too, sometimes on a daily level. Some of us are really good at hiding the unhappiness. Especially in today’s world in which people promote themselves on social media as having the perfect, photo-shopped lives. Most of us only post our beauty and happy moments. Naturally. And thankfully. We can only handle so much negativity. Think about how many times you see someone post on Facebook, “I can’t handle all the terrible negativity with people’s posts. I’m taking a hiatus from Facebook. See ya.” I personally see it A LOT. And, hey, I don’t blame them. The negativity and nonsense can get terribly overwhelming and next thing you know, you’re in an awful depression and the really bad stuff isn’t even directly affecting your life. It’s a crazy thing.

Honestly, I think as I’ve entered my 40s – note I said, “entered”! – my emotions have taken a turn for what I think I’ll call, the realistic. At this point in my lifetime, in my maturity, in my struggle/battle and constant adventure to create success, happiness and share my talents, I also feel more…on a real level. Let’s face it, the older you get, the more you experience reality – all the real and pure realities of this consistently challenging life. And most unfortunately, as us women get older, our hormones seem to take us on a tormenting roller coaster ride that feels like a joy ride one second and a death defying, catastrophic plane crash the next second. On any given day, I can be facing depression straight in its ugly face, all the while trying my very best to combat it at every turn, feeling beaten down by the world, it’s hardships, feeling ugly, chubby, not worthy, you name it…all the while, granted, I will do my absolute damnedest to hide it, to overcome it. I’m aware of it, I know better, I know my worth, I believe in myself, I know I can combat the negative emotions…, but daggomit it’s just hard sometimes. And sometimes you just need to be sad, you just need to cry, you just need to be angry. Then, the flip side, I can wake up the very next day and be thankfully full of strength and thankfulness. It’s a glorious thing to feel this way – to be truly full of positivity and feel it to your core, a gratefulness for the recognition of positivity despite all the negative nonsense that we could allow to overcome us.

 

And there it is. See, I fortunately have the ability to overcome the negative moments, for now at least. Others aren’t so capable. Their genetic make-up doesn’t allow them to reach for the positivity or come out of the negativity like a so called “normal” human being. I’m incredibly blessed that I do not have to rely on medicine to help level me out and allow me to think and rationalize clearly. I personally feel blessed to have the ability to recognize when I’m experiencing any negative emotions, I know I have the ability to pull myself out of it. I know the sadness, hurt and anger will pass. Some of those emotions are always there due to life experiences, but they help me to be stronger, help me to recognize the power of the positive in my life.

The following excerpt is from a piece Time Magazine posted. This article is what really got me thinking and helped me to gain an acceptance of the fact that it’s ok to experience ALL emotions and that I do not have to be positive all the time.

“Overemphasis on positive emotions denies the key role negative emotions play in our human experience. Negative emotions serve important functions in that they motivate us to take action or help us give up on goals that are no longer tenable. There is also evidence that experiencing a range of emotions, both positive and negative, has beneficial health consequences, including longer life.

Instead of empowering people to exercise what control they may have, we end up blaming them if they aren’t able to dig themselves out of a difficult situation, and this adds to their stress rather than lessening it. Perhaps most dangerous, by placing the onus on the individual to think positive thoughts to simply feel better about their situation, we neglect the importance of working to change the social or institutional causes of the stress which may perpetuate the systems of oppression, discrimination, or inequality that caused the epidemic of stress in the first place.

But we should not throw the positive emotion baby out with the positivity bathwater. There is, after all, mounting evidence that positive emotions are associated with a host of beneficial outcomes, including better health and longer life. In my research, our goal is to help people learn ways to experience more positive emotion on a daily basis even when life is stressful — not banishing negative experiences or emotions.

My lab is not the only one doing this kind of work. Dr. Jeff Huffman and his colleagues at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital are finding that a program that teaches cardiac in-patients skills for increasing positive emotion shows promise for improving not only well-being, but also physical activity, a key health behavior for people recovering from acute coronary events.

Moreover, making space for positive emotions alongside the negative supports more effective coping and may provide us with the capacity to take on the bigger structural issues that cause stress.”

(from Emotions Expert: It’s Impossible to be Constantly Positive. Try This Instead by Judith K. Moskowitz, June 5, 2018, http://time.com/5300649/positivity-professor/)

So is it ok to be sad sometimes and want to be ok with being sad and allowing yourself to cry? Absolutely. It’s a real part of surviving this life. Sometimes the hurt and anger help guide us to the answers or to the positive sides of life. It’s a very powerful, yin/yang kind of thing. One cannot, does not truly live this life without the other.

Light vs dark, human nature vs human events – Yin/Yang. It’s a fascinating concept.

I will continue to promote positivity, because I know and have experienced the beautiful side effects of thinking and believing in goodness and greatness. But, on the flip side, I will allow myself to feel…to feel sadness, to feel hurt, to feel anger. I will do my best to stay in control of those emotions and to always learn from them, gain strength from them and gain relief from the release that they can provide to my all too human body that feels all and at every turn attempts to survive.

Allow yourself to feel and learn from your feelings. You can grow strength, relief and understanding from the natural emotions that your body is meant to experience. All this being said, allow yourself to be human. It’s ok. It really is.

 

Back to Basics

By Rachel Sircy

I’ve written many articles about cooking at home, but I’m going to write another one. Home cooking is an important topic for anyone wanting to go organic or gluten free on a budget. Actually, it’s an especially important topic for celiacs these days. According to a recent study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Jack Syage and his research team found that adult celiacs who were following a gluten free diet and still experiencing symptoms of celiac disease, had been exposed to 150mg to 400mg of gluten per day. Only 10mg per day is safe for a person with celiac disease, but of course 0mg is preferable!
The thing is, gluten is hidden in so many things, it’s easy to forget or get sloppy with our eating habits. Unfortunately, any sloppiness in our diet means that we are doing damage to our bodies. Gluten is hidden in so many sauces, food additives (who wants food additives anyway?), and it comes with so many sneaky names : dextrin, maltodextrin, Brewer’s yeast, malt, malt flavoring, etc., that I’m sure that I accidentally get some contamination without even knowing it. The other issue is that not everything that is labeled gluten free really is gluten free. It’s not good enough for a celiac to purchase something that says, “contains no gluten” or “no gluten ingredients used.” The ingredients of a product may be gluten free, but it also matters how the product was processed, how it was shipped and how it has been handled in the store.
Most of the gluten hidden in our diet is going to come from processed foods. If you’re new to celiac disease, or if you are still experiencing symptoms, follow this advice that a registered dietician gave me years ago when I was first diagnosed: Make simple meals. What does this mean? It means if you don’t know what else to cook, make a crockpot roast with potatoes and carrots. You need a meat, a vegetable or two and some source of starch. You don’t need to worry about purchasing processed foods. Trust me, after 10 years of gluten free living, finding out which processed foods are safe to eat – even when shopping in a health food store – still makes my head spin. So, the best thing that you can do is avoid them. Buy plain raw meats and cook them yourself. Buy plain raw vegetables and cook them yourself. Potatoes, rice and beans all work well as starches and if you purchase the beans and rice plain and dried, not only are they gluten free, but they are super cheap. This simpler way of eating (meat, veg and a natural starch) will save you SO MUCH MONEY if you are a celiac. Gluten free noodles, cake mixes, cookies, etc. are insanely expensive anyway. If you’re still sick after going gluten free or if you need to be gluten free and you’re on a tight budget, simple meal planning is the way to go.
Of course, you might be saying, that cooking every single day is exhausting and too time consuming. Here’s the thing, if you want to cook like you’re going to be the next Food Network Star, then yes, it will take you quite a bit of time. I know, because I’ve made the mistake of trying to cook that way when I worked full time. Cooking was a burden to me, then, not a joy. It’s become more fun the more I’ve had to do it. But people, we live in a world full of crockpots and my co-worker has recently been raving about how much she loves her new Insta-pot. It’s so easy to throw meat and vegetables into a crockpot and let it do all the hard work for you. We also live in a world full of microwaves. If you enjoy cooking but only have time on weekends, then cook your meals and freeze them to be reheated later. This is actually a really economical way to plan meals. The freezer is your friend. This is my freezer:
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The individual containers in my fridge are full of soup that I made one day when I had the time. I let the soup cool slightly and then froze it in individual meal size containers. When I don’t know what to take to work for lunch, I’ve got these containers of soup that I can just grab and throw in my lunch bag. They reheat in about 3-6 minutes in the microwave (about the same time as a processed frozen meal). I also have freezer bags containing individual servings of cooked ground beef for tacos. My husband is the only one in our house who really likes it, so what we did on Saturday was to cook 2lbs of ground beef with a homemade taco seasoning and then he decided how much he would eat with a meal and he froze that amount (about 1 cup, I think) in each of these freezer bags.
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Actually, if you’re wondering what might be a great simple meal that isn’t roast and potatoes, tacos are great. Many brands of soft corn taco shells are gluten free. I do recommend that you choose a brand that has an ingredient list that is short and that you can completely read (try to avoid anything with huge, difficult to read words which are probably chemicals and which may contain gluten). Many hard corn shells are gluten free as well, but be careful, these are usually more processed and therefore contain the potential for contamination. Most of the other ingredients for home-made tacos are naturally gluten free: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese (natural cheese, not processed! Processed cheese is likely to contain gluten), sour cream. Also, many brands of refried beans are gluten free. I go for the fat free beans, which keeps the ingredients list simple – usually just beans, water and salt. Make sure that you can read and understand all of the ingredients on the salsa that you choose, some have preservatives which may not be gluten free.
Below is the recipe for some home-made taco seasoning that is gluten free. It may seem like a long list, but it’s well worth making. I think it tastes better than a lot of packaged taco seasoning, and this recipe makes 6 tablespoons which will last a while since you only use 2 tablespoons per pound of ground beef. I also use 2TBS to season my home-made chili.
Taco Seasoning
Ingredients:
2 TBS Onion Powder
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 TBS Salt
1 TBS Chili Powder
1 ½ tsp Crushed Dried Red Pepper Flakes
1 ½ tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Dried Oregano Leaves
1 ½ tsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Sugar

Method:
Place all ingredients in a tightly sealed container and shake until well mixed.
Makes 6 TBS of seasoning. Use 2 TBS per 1Lb of ground beef for tacos. Use to taste to season chili.

Happy Eating.