Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Refried Beans – No added fat

For anyone with animals this story is going to sound very familiar. This morning was the annual trip to the veterinarian so the three felines could get their vaccinations. As you may expect my felines are a little spoiled and don’t really like having their routines disrupted. Our day started trying to herd three growling and hissing fur balls into their carrying bags. The felines serenaded mom and dad the entire 30-minute trip to the vet. As soon as the car stopped the felines immediately went silent. No, they weren’t behaving they were saving their respective energy for when the bags were opened.

Our baby (the little white cat) has a warning on his medical record so he went first. At the end of his examination my husband was bleeding and the cat had done his best impression of exorcist, complete with spinning head. The other two were well behaved compared to Nicco. As our vet likes to say, I think they may be a little spoiled and are accustomed to doing what they want. That would be an understatement.

When we got home all the felines were hissing and randomly attacked anyone (human or feline) that got near them. I hope everyone else had a better start to his or her day than we did. I will be running back out in a little while to pick up antibiotics for the cat bite victim. Just another day in paradise at our house. Now back to the important stuff, the food.

At our house bean dip is something I make every week or so. We eat a lot of hummus as well as white and black bean dip. While it isn’t always our intention we do eat beans almost everyday like Dr. Fuhrman recommends in “Eat for Health”. Beans are great for adding to your diet for the fiber and protein as well as satisfying hunger.

Today I decided to use the refried bean recipe from “The Professional Chef” and make it vegan and low fat. I thought this would be a nice change from the smooth bean dips I normally make. This dip is actually very similar in flavor to the pinto bean dip I posted here. The difference between the dips is mainly textural.

Refried Beans – No added fat
Makes 9 – ½ cup servings


1 cup pinto beans, picked through and sorted
water to cook the beans
1 bay leaf
½ red onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ cup water to sauté the aromatics
5 sun-dried tomatoes, finely minced
1 ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds toasted
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 pinch kosher salt, or to taste
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
fresh minced cilantro for garnish, when serving
cayenne pepper for garnish, when serving - optional


Cook the beans in the water with the bay leaf until very soft. The amount of time it will take to cook the beans will depend on the age of the dried beans. A bay leaf was added to the bean cooking water because I have read that bay leaves and/or kombu added to the cooking liquid will help the beans to digest more easily. In other words diminish the musical quality of beans. I have been doing this for over a year and it seems to work.

Water sauté the onions and garlic in until the aromatics are tender. Add the cooked beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin seed and acid (lime or lemon). Mash the beans with a potato masher or the back of a soup. Taste the beans for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as necessary.

If you like cilantro it is good sprinkled on top the beans or mixed into the dip before serving. I also sprinkle the top with a little cayenne, but I like heat. The cayenne is completely optional.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 83.05
Calories From Fat (6%) - 5.09

Total Fat - 0.59g
Saturated Fat - 0.09g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 44.15mg
Potassium - 337.89mg
Total Carbohydrates - 14.9g
Fiber - 3.66g
Sugar - 0.51g
Protein - 4.85g


This dip is similar to the pinto bean dip I normally make but with less heat. I do like the addition of the soft red onions and garlic to the dip. In this recipe I missed the hot crushed peppers. I would recommend that you add the hot pickled peppers to this recipe even though it isn’t traditional.

We had this with lunch today with vegetable dippers (cucumber slices, carrot and celery sticks). This dip makes a great lunchbox item since it doesn’t need to be heated or require utensils. I like to have bean dip and veggies in the car when I am going to be out of the house for hours. The protein in the beans helps to satisfy my hunger until I can get home.


  1. love the kitty story, wish the vet was closer to you guys.....or has nicco been expelled from vets that are nearby?

  2. We eat a ton of beans in our house- with 5 boys I have to serve lots of beans. It is the most cost effective way to eat. Thanks for sharing a new way to cook them!

  3. My cat goes wild at the vet too. Sometimes, I think she could climb the walls.

    The bean dip looks and sounds delish.

    Great tip about the bay leaf.

    I used to water saute stuff a lot until I met my husband. Then I started catering to his tastes for richer, oilier food (silly me).

  4. Michelle,

    I have known our vet for almost 30 years which is why we drive so far. He is almost a member of the family, only one you like. When he retires I can't imagine trusting another vet, but I will have to learn.


  5. Debra,

    I feel like I cook beans every few days too. I have a white bean filled ravioli that I need to make again soon so I can post it. It is a big winner with the men I know so you may be interested.


  6. Rose,

    Thanks for letting me know your cat acts up too. Our little one is so bad I wish I could crawl under the exam table. I spend half the visit apologizing for his bad behavior.

    I used to water saute all the time as well and got out of the habit but I am back to it now. A few days ago I read something about heating oil (canola, olive, etc.) causing the fat to oxidize which makes it more unhealthy.

    If I were you I would water saute the veg and then let John drizzle a little oil on his serving like they do in Italy. Olive oil is a condiment in Italy like salt and pepper. They drizzle a little on almost everything when it is served. Dan and I learned to to that in Italy and it is really nice if you use an unfiltered extra virgin olive oil. Of course it is also easy to too much of a good thing.


  7. (please note that you don't have to post this), but....

    What is the difference between water sauteing and steaming.....

  8. Hi Louis,

    Good question and I am sure others are curious. Water sauteing in done with the water and veg in direct contact with the pan. Steaming is with the veg above the water. Theoretically steaming preserves more vitamins, but water sauteing is much quicker.


  9. my bids act stupid, my own personal binky bit the drill bit that they use on beaks and toe nails...every time i go back i see his "mark" on the power tools....the only mark....

  10. Michelle,

    I guess if you name your pet Binky it is destined to be bad. At least it seems that way based on both our experiences. Or ... all Binky's hate going to the vet? Either way it is the same end result.



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