Refried Beans: Don’t let the ‘fried’ fool you
OK, so these *particular* refried beans (or “refritos,” as they’re known in Mexico) may not have been the healthiest version of this much-misunderstood food, but I ordered them at a truck stop/gasolinera on the highway outside Mexico City, so I suppose it was ambitious to expect much more than the pictured pile of bacon grease garnished with leftover mashed pintos.
We’ll just ignore the form and focus on the function. Refritos are usually made of cooked and mashed pinto beans cooked in some sort of fat. They’re cooked just once… the “re” in “refried” is a misnomer… with spices and maybe some onion and garlic. As it turns out, most canned versions are quite low in fat (3g or less per serving)–with some brands offering fat-free versions. They’re also usually vegetarian, and very high in fiber and protein. Which makes them an excellent food to keep in your pantry to use as a sandwich spread, a filling for burritos, tacos or omelets, a dip for baked tortilla chips, or a side dish to serve with rice. Low-sodium refried beans would also be a very appropriate complimentary food for healthy babies around 8 months or up who are eating other pureed texture foods; just make sure to mix some liquid in if necessary to ensure that they’re not too thick so as to cause a choking hazard.
Eden Foods makes an organic refried black beans and soybeans product that has won all sorts of accolades for flavor and has the added benefit of being a source of complete protein, owing to the soybeans. As with most canned foods, you’ll want to watch out for the sodium content when selecting a brand of refried beans. The big brands, like Ortega, Taco Bell and Old El Paso, are loaded with sodium–with some containing 50% of your daily limit in one small serving. Aim for products that contain less than 10% of the daily value for sodium (or less than 240 mg) per 1/2 cup serving. Some examples include: Amy’s Kitchen low-sodium version and Eden Foods. Whole Foods’ 365 brand also has one Refried Black Bean product that just makes the cut, but their others are too darn salty to be considered healthy. And as if it needed to be said: once you leave the cans and venture into Mexican restaurant territory, all bets are off.
if you can’t find a low-sodium brand in your local supermarket, you can make them yourself using low-sodium canned pinto beans, which should be easier to find. Just saute 1 clove of garlic in 1 TBSP of olive oil for about a minute, and add one 15 oz can of low-sodium pinto beans with the liquid. Mix it all up and start smashing the beans with the back of a wooden spoon and keep cooking/mashing until the beans reach the texture of mashed potatoes. If need be, you can add a bit of low-sodium broth to get the texture to your preferred mushiness.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.