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refried beans unhealthy?

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Old 08-30-2008, 07:40 PM   #1
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Hi all,

I've read that canned refried beans are unhealthy. I've even googled to try to understand why this is the case, but have been unsuccessful.

I have been using the fat-free ones frequently.

Can anyone enlighten me? I'm not a great cook and though I know how to make navy bean soup, that's the extent of my experience with cooking beans.

Thanks so much!

Beth
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Old 08-30-2008, 08:13 PM   #2
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The fat free ones, which I also use, should be fine. The regular ones are made with Lard and that's why they're unhealthy.
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Old 08-30-2008, 08:35 PM   #3
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Actually most national brands no longer are made with lard. Rosarita beans are the ones I have in my pantry right now and they do not contain lard. Read the labels if you're uncertain.

Lard in and of itself is not unhealthy either. People tend to say "lard" in the same tone of voice they'd say "dog poop" ... and I'm not sure most people even think about why they are having a knee jerk reaction to the word. Lard is nothing more than pig fat. Have you ever used bacon drippings in your cooking? Then you've used a type of lard. The worst thing about lard is that it's high in saturated fats, something that most of us (especially those on a diet) want to avoid.

Honestly, whenever I hear "I've read that ... " I tend to have a bit of a reaction myself. I think it's important to think about WHERE you read or heard whatever it is you heard. Especially when it's something as generic and open ended as "X is unhealthy." If someone makes a blanket statement w/out any supporting evidence, then I tend to dismiss it pretty much instantly.

Anything can be "unhealthy" if you want to make a case for it. Living is unhealthy - after all, the end result of life is ... death.

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Old 08-30-2008, 08:42 PM   #4
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I eat a lot of fat free refried beans and love them. My favorite are the freeze dried but they require some cooking but they taste much better than the canned.
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Old 08-30-2008, 08:59 PM   #5
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Thanks WebRover, I'm definitely using the fat-free ones!

Photochick, you are so cool. I read your responses whenever I see them and you just have such a great, no-nonsense take on everything. I'd love to take you to dinner sometime just so I could ask you all my questions! *grin*

nelie, actually, before I asked my question I did a search here and found your post talking about the Santa Fe beans. I've put them on my list and hope I can find them around here. I eat half a can at a time and sometimes the second half goes to waste. I'd love to be able to make just the amount I want.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to answer me!
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Old 08-30-2008, 09:12 PM   #6
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Hahahaha! Thanks Beth!
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Old 08-30-2008, 09:14 PM   #7
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You should be able to put the other half of the can in a quart size freezer bag, press them flat and squeeze out all the air, then freeze them.
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Old 08-30-2008, 09:15 PM   #8
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I've compared the nutritional information of the ones with lard and the fat free, and sometimes it's so close, there can't be more than a tsp of lard in the whole can. However, some brands are very high in calorie/fat, so it's just another time you've got to read the label.

Restaurant refried beans are where you really have to watch. Some are so creamy, wonderful they HAVE to be loaded with fat.
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Old 08-30-2008, 10:51 PM   #9
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Beans, beans, beans!! Oh those WONDERFUL beans!!!
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Old 08-30-2008, 11:49 PM   #10
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I've seen a lot of Americans talk about "refried beans" but I've never heard of them, so I was in a grocery store tonight, and I couldn't find them. I asked a girl who worked there where I could find a can of "refried beans", and she just looked at me weird and said "Pardon?" I was like... nevermind.
lol, so I'm assuming either we don't have them in Canada or this particular grocery store doesn't carry them. I want to try them!
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Old 08-30-2008, 11:58 PM   #11
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I usually buy the fat free ones too. I love the fat free spicy ones!

If I'm out I just use a can of pinto beans. I drain and rinse the beans, put them into a pan with some water, chili powder, cumin and onions. I let them cook a bit them I smush them with a potato masher. Not authentic by any means, but we like them lol.
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Old 08-31-2008, 12:02 AM   #12
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They're usually in the ethnic or mexican food aisle. If you take a can of pinto beans (or really almost any bean), drain them and then whip them up in a food processor until you've got a paste (chunky or smooth, your choice) - or as Magz suggests saute beans in a skillet and mash 'em - that's pretty much refried beans, though some canned varieties are seasoned and might also have onion or green chiles mixed into the beans, they're usually pretty bland, so I don't even always season them much if at all).

If you've ever had a bean burrito with a bean paste type filling, that's refried beans.

I say almost any bean, because I make bean pastes alot. White beans with garlic, or even baked beans (with the sauce). They make great burrito type sandwhiches, or even as a sandwhich spread on toast or as a veggie or chip dip. If I'm invited to a potluck and don't have anything else in the house to take (or just forget until the last minute), I'll make one up (because it takes seconds) and a box of crackers (I usually keep a couple boxes of crackers around the house for just such emergencies).

I've had so many people ask for the recipe, especially for the one that is just baked beans and a little barbecue sauce, it's hilarious. I even invented a name for it "trailer-park hummus."
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Old 08-31-2008, 12:28 AM   #13
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I really think that "re-fried" beans in the US have become one of 2 products if purchased in a can. The higher calorie version is smushed beans with some fat blended in to make it creamy, and the lower calorie version has little or no fat. The Mexican dish in general is cooked beans that are smushed and kinda sauteed in lard to get extra concentrated and tasty. If you can't find "refried" beans, just take a can of pintos or whatever you like and mash them with the potato masher. If you want extra flavor you can then move them around in a Pam-sprayed pan with a little water or broth and seasonings like garlic, onion, peppers, etc.
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Old 08-31-2008, 09:07 AM   #14
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I make my own 'refried' beans at home as well. Usually cook beans in a crockpot, make sure there isn't a lot of juice (sometimes I reduce the juice on the stove if I added too much water in the morning). Then mash mash mash away.

the refried beans I've seen in the store with lard have about 150% more calories than the fatfree ones I've seen. (90 calories per serving versus 230 calories per serving)
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Old 08-31-2008, 09:26 AM   #15
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Sounds interesting - mashed beans basically? lol. No, I've never had them, mexican food isn't big around here, we don't have mexicans really. I guess I could look in a ethnic store, tons of caribbean ones around here. Wouldn't hurt to look, although I'm not sure if they would have mexican food. I want to try them in a burrito! The lard part is grossing me out though.
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