When I was young my mom used to bring me to Taco Bell for lunch, on occasion. Keep that in mind when I tell you that my mom is who inspired me to become a dietitian. She always talked about the importance of a healthy diet. You see, my mom is a nurse and is very passionate about the idea that food truly is medicine. So, I know what you’re thinking…why would she let me eat Taco Bell? Like I said, my mom inspired me (and still does) in many ways. While she was strict about the kinds and amounts of foods I consumed, she wasn’t so strict that i didn’t get to enjoy the occasional treat. And as a child I always begged for, not Happy Meals, but Taco Bell. Yeah. But of course my mom would only agree to it if I included a side of “pintos and cheese” with my order. You know, some “nutrition” with my taco splurge. The pintos and cheese were of course far from healthy, with the cheese and tons of salt and all. But I’ll tell you what, I still love refried beans, even without cheese or anything on top. Give me a can, I’ll eat them straight up, with a spoon and napkin. But with cans being lined with this BPA…stuff…I’m not certain I feel comfortable feeding myself or my husband a daily dose of canned refried beans (yes, Nick has a refried bean burrito in his lunch, made and packed by yours truly, every day).
And after going to two talks about food and fertility at this year’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (sponsored by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), I learned that BPA was once considered as a method for birth control. Ummmm, ok, no thank you. I’m trying to get pregnant, not prevent it. And as you can see from the passage above, Nick shouldn’t be consuming a lot of BPA either because I guess it can lower his sperm count. No thank you. So what have I started to do? Enter, the slow cooker!
- 1 onion, peeled and diced **
- 3 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed **
- ½ fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 T mined garlic **
- 3 t. Salt
- 1¾ t. fresh ground black pepper
- ⅛ t. Ground cumin
- 9 cups water
- Place the onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin into a slow cooker. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Cook on High for 8 hours, adding more water as needed (I like my beans thick and not at all watery, so I did not add more water)
- Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.
Nutrition Highlights: NO BPA! And, while the facts are similar to most canned refried beans, I believe the sodium is lower than most (and can be made even lower by reducing the salt added to this recipe). Also, one serving of these beans provide a good source of iron (11% of the DV).
And if you have a really large slow cooker you can double the recipe and put your leftover beans in a (glass) container, then freeze them. They freeze quite well. I put them in the freezer and they thawed in about a day, after being frozen for a week. The taste was just as delicious after having been frozen for a week, and the texture didn’t change either. Make sure you notice what I said though; A glass container. If you put your warm beans in a plastic container you may as well have just opened a can, because heating plastic is what enhances the release of the BPA. No bueno.
So if anyone ever told you refried beans actually had to be “Fried”, and not just once, but twice, they were wrong. Quite honestly these tasted just as good, if not better than my favorite canned version (And I do have favorites). And if you’re wondering if I eat the pintos and cheese at Taco Bell anymore, I don’t. To be honest I can’t tell you the last time I ate Taco Bell, but you better believe I’ll bring my children there, at least once (as long as they get the beans…you gotta have the beans!).