We love Mexican food in this house. We’ve discovered, though, that we probably prefer an Americanized version of it. The few times we have had the opportunity to sit down in an “authentic” Mexican restaurant, we have left disappointed in the flavors and go back to our favorites. The problem is that, with the Americanized versions, you never know exactly what you’re getting. We are so conditioned to processed foods, in the United States, that we hardly recognize them and their dangers, anymore, as we’re eating. The beauty of the authentic Mexican food is that it is cooked with whole food ingredients, from scratch, and you know exactly what is going into it. That’s what I’m trying to do, more and more, in my own kitchen. (With the exception of tortillas. Oy! I still haven’t mastered them, yet.)
So, refried beans are a staple in our house. My kids will eat them for a quick snack, spread on a tortilla like peanut butter, then cover the beans in grated cheddar, roll the tortilla and pop it in the microwave to melt the cheese and heat the beans. These have been fondly dubbed, “Cheesies”, after a similar dish in a local restaurant. We also like them in beef and bean burritos, bean burritos or in tacos. They make a fabulous beginning layer in our favorite layered Taco Dip recipe and there are tons of other uses.
I used to buy refried beans, canned, but I never will, again; and it won’t be for the reasons you’re thinking. I’m not opposed to fat in our diet. I never bought the so-called low-fat or vegetarian beans. Our bodies are crying out for healthy fats — whole food fats that can nourish our immune and nervous systems, create strong cell membranes, aid in digestion, provide energy and work to help detoxify the liver. The politically correct demonization of saturated fats in America has not led to a healthier, stronger, less obese population. It has turned the unknowing public to fake fats, artificially created and hydrogenated, that our bodies don’t know how to utilize and it has introduced toxins and free-radicals into our systems. Free radicals are cancer-causers, and wreak havoc on our bodies, at a cellular level. Look around you at the large number of Americans who struggle with their weight. Most of them are drinking diet sodas, eating fat-free bagels, lowfat yogurt, reduced-fat milk and dairy products, and unwittingly, continuing to support a billion dollar food industry lie, because they’ve been told it’s good for them. The foods they are putting in their bodies are mixtures of chemicals, genetically modified foods and “enriched” ingredients. Do we look like it’s been good for us? Heart disease, cancers, and diabetes aren’t “going away” with the use of these products, obesity is on the rise and more and more of our children have allergies, diabetes and weight issues. Clearly there has to be a better way. I’m not a scientist, but I inherently know that food in the form God created it for our nourishment, and in balanced and common-sense serving sizes, must be the answer we’re missing. That doesn’t sell products, though. And the money created in this toxic industry has created something we never anticipated — powerful, conglomerates that have the money to pass legislation that protects them from the truth and limits our ability to know what they are trying to feed us. It’s madness. And it’s definitely time to take control of your own food supply, again.
The problem is that now, even though we recognize what’s happening, it’s difficult to change, because the majority of the food available in local grocery stores and markets is laden with genetically modified corn and soybean products, sugar, polyunsaturated oils, hydrogenated fats and tons of chemicals we can’t even pronounce. Those are the cheap, affordable products that tempt and woo us, from the shelves. It costs more to purchase whole, untainted foods, in the short-term, but what you’ll save in medical bills and time lost from work due to illness, over the long-term, will more than make up for it. Plus, with careful planning, buying local and seasonal whole foods and watching sales and coupons, many are surprised to find that these healthier foods don’t have to increase their grocery budgets. Be informed, buy smart, eat normal portions, not super-sized, and consume the flavor-dense, whole and natural foods that build health and vitality. You can do this! It’s never been more critical to know what we’re feeding our families. It’s hard to know who to trust and where to get the truth, but I have been studying a fantastic book, backed up by a lot of science and common sense, that debunks what we’ve been “taught” about food and health. I would recommend Nourishing Traditions as a must-read for your family’s health and to help you navigate the sea of myths, lies and misconceptions about our food supply, as well as what is critically necessary to properly nourish our families. Plus, it’s full of delicious and nutritious recipes.
And you thought this was just going to be a recipe for beans, didn’t you? lol The last can of refried beans I purchased had the following list of ingredients: cooked beans, water, salt, tomato paste (no mention of the ingredients in the tomato paste, but it is likely more salt and sugar), partially hydrogenated lard (Lard in its pure form is NOT hydrogenated. That is an “improvement”, by the powers that be, and that the human body cannot metabolize properly.), chili pepper, sugar (Really? Sugar? Do we need sugar in refried beans? And what kind of sugar? Corn, beet, cane, honey? How was it processed? is it GMO like most sugar beets and sugar cane?), natural flavors (What does that mean? Do the flavorings occur naturally, in nature, or are they chemically processed flavorings that mimic the flavor of naturally occurring ingredients?) and yeast extract (Again, do I need this in my beans? Typically it is added to products as a flavor enhancer.). My refried bean recipe only contains five whole food ingredients that we all recognize, costs a fraction of the price you would pay for canned beans, makes a large quantity that you can divide up and freeze in portions for future use, so you’re not tempted to just “grab a can at the store” and they only take a few minutes of your time to prepare. Simple, delicious, cost effective and nutritious. Isn’t that what you want your family’s food to be?
You are going to love this recipe! I got the idea to make these delicious beans when I was pinning all the fabulous recipes over at Chef in Training. Nikki loves to cook as much as I do and her pictures are absolutely gorgeous! I can tell her family’s tastes and favorites must be similar to our own. I modified the recipe, somewhat, to make it fit my family’s taste buds and my whole food, not-so-processed goals. It’s a keeper and we’ll make it over and over, again. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
- 2 lbs. dry pinto beans
- 1 large onion, minced
- 2 Tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
- 12 cups of homemade chicken stock (could substitute water, but your homemade chicken stock does indescribably delicious things to these beans)
- ½ cup butter (not margarine)
- Sift through your dry beans and look for pebbles or pieces of grass. Beans are a natural product, grown in the soil, and even the best brands can have shriveled beans or non-edible bits and be a little dusty.
- Put the beans in a strainer and rinse them with cool water to wash away any dust.
- After rinsing, place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover them with cool water. Usually 3 cups for every cup of beans is a good ratio. Just be sure the beans are covered with at least two extra inches of water over the top of them. Cover them and let them sit on the counter overnight.
- If you're in a hurry and you don't have time to give your beans an overnight soak, you can place them in a large pot with the water, bring the pot to a boil, cover it and shut off the heat. Let the beans set for one hour.
- (Why soak dry beans before cooking? First of all, it helps to release the enzymes that start breaking down the indigestible complex sugars in the bean coating, making them easier to digest, and cutting down on gas. Secondly, it helps to insure they are clean. And thirdly, they will cook more quickly, which means less loss of nutrients and protein.)
- Drain your soaked and rehydrated beans and give them one more good rinse.
- Pour drained beans into your slow cooker.
- Add the minced onion, minced garlic and chicken stock.
- Put the lid on your crock pot and set it to high.
- Cook the beans until they are soft.
- If most of the chicken stock seems to be being absorbed, you can add a little water to the pot, to keep the beans cooking. They should always have a small head of liquid over the top of the surface of the beans.
- When the beans are soft, drain off any remaining liquid, reserving it for a time.
- Mash one stick of butter into the cooked beans. I used a potato masher and it's the perfect tool to get the chunky/smooth texture that makes these beans so delicious. If your beans still seem a little thick, you can add small amounts of the reserved liquid to achieve the desired consistency. We like our beans thick, so I don't use very much of the reserved liquid.
- Dry beans, onion, garlic, chicken stock and butter. Natural, wholesome ingredients to create a delicious and healthy pantry staple.
- When the beans are cool, I measure two cups into each quart-size freezer bag and seal them up to freeze. Use the beans just as you always do, in your favorite recipes. I use one two-cup bag in place of a typical 14-16 oz. can.
- We made these yummy beef and bean burritos with them. Doesn't it look amazing!!??