MSG free latino cuisine

January 4, 2010 in ingredient, latino


Goya and other latino food purveyors have “latino” style flavorings and spice useful to quickly add a certain flavor to foods that some interpret as “latino”.

(Note that I never think of myself or refer to myself as “hispanic”. The term “hispanic” was a broad class term coined by the infinitely odious Richard Nixon because he could not tell us latinos apart from one another.)

One such product is “Sazon” (with various permutations or variations). If you are latino/a you likely know this well, if you are new to this cuisine and have been experimenting with latino recipes, you will very likely come across recipes asking for it.

Do yourself and your family a great favor and either throw away any Sazon you have on hand or simply never buy it in the first place.

Sazon is MSG with annatto. MSG is not a food, its not a spice, it is a neurotoxin, especially when its used as directed in the case of Sazon.

Sazon and nasty MSG

I have written about MSG and how fantastically bad it is for you, from the scientific perspective in this post: Monosodium Glutamate: Bad for your brain, your figure, and your health.

Just step away from the Sazon.

You might ask then, how do I get that rich saffron yellow color without the sazon?!

You could invest in saffron.

I don’t, I just do not have that sort of food budget.

You could do what most latina grandmas and their mamas and abuelas have done BEFORE Goya – not be lazy and make a sofrito or hogao (as we Colombians call it, recipe at end of this post).

If you do not want to go to the trouble of making an hogao (it will add enormous flavor to your food, natural non-toxic flavor) then you can choose to use the coloring agent in Sazon that is not MSG -> ground annatto seeds.

annatto seeds

Annatto seeds are seeds from the Achiote tree, grown in tropical Central and South America.

The Wiki says:

It is an important ingredient of cochinita pibil, the spicy pork dish popular in Mexico. It is also a key ingredient in the drink tascalate from Chiapas, Mexico.

Annatto is the red coloring you find on the rind of muenster cheese and cheddar cheese!

annatto seeds

You can grind the seeds (shown here) and use pinches of it in recipes that call for Sazon or you can soak the seeds in water a bit to release the powdery coating on the seeds which is what colors things.

To grind annatto seed

To grind annatto seed

Annatto has been indicated in adverse reactions for some people so go easy on using it in the beginning. In all cases, never use a whole LOT of this or any spice, be moderate and find just the right amount that you need, no more.

Ground annatto seeds

Let me know if you make the switch!

Always be vigilant about MSG in your food. Its quite literally everywhere.


  • 5 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 bunches of green onions, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cominos
  • Pinch of ground annatto seeds
  • 1/2 cup of packed, chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • salt to taste


Saute the listed “hogao” ingredients in the olive oil until wilted, set aside.

Mix the harina and salt and then add the boiling water. Mix until incorporated and set aside for 15 minutes.