Healthy Rice and Beans

08 Sep

Can you say Olé's a Mexican Food Fiesta!

Rice and beans are a natural pairing and an integral part of my “Mexican Food Fiesta.” This recipe brings me back to my days of living in Guadalajara as an exchange student. I *loved* the frijoles. Here in the States we lump all kinds of beans under the name “refried beans.” Although in some regions and restaurants, cooked beans are actually fried or baked in lard, that adds way too much work and too many calories for me. Now that my Hispanic roommate has shared with me how easy these dishes are to prepare, I’m hooked (again).

Of course, having lived in New Orleans for years where cajun-style red beans and rice is a staple on Mondays, I am familiar with how to cook beans. Aside from the time I accidentally bought red beans (instead of pinto beans) that never did break apart and get creamy, I’ve been making beans successfully for years. Mexican-style beans cook up just the same but with different spices.

This recipes is time consuming and takes a advance preparation but most of the time is unattended. With a little planning you can pull this off with very little effort.

Thick and creamy frijoles (the un-refried version)


  • two tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon grease
  • one onion, finely chopped
  • two or three cloves garlic, minced
  • one jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • one bag dried pinto beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pre-soak beans overnight. I throw mine in a big bowl, cover them with water and stick them in the fridge.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans. After soaking the beans, always start with fresh water.
  3. In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, heat the oil or bacon grease until hot but not smoking.
  4. Saute the onion and garlic two to three minutes until the onion is translucent
  5. Add the jalapeno and the beans
  6. Add six cups of cold water
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil
  8. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for several hours
  9. After about two hours on the stovetop, lightly mash the beans with a masher or large wooden spoon. Breaking them up creates the gravy.
  10. Continue cooking until the consistency is thick and creamy.

Spanish Rice:

Find El Pato sauce in the Latin food aisle at your local grocery store

Spanish rice is cooked up much the same as regular rice. One part rice to two parts liquid. For Spanish rice, part of the liquid is replaced with a combination of regular tomato sauce and Mexican hot tomato sauce.


  • Two tablespoons vegetable oil
  • One onion, diced
  • Two or three cloves of garlic, minced
  • Two cups uncooked white rice
  • 1/2 can El Pato Hot Tomato Sauce
  • One 8-oz can regular tomato sauce


  1. In a large stockpot, heat the oil until hot but not smoking
  2. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are soft
  3. Add rice and stir to glaze the rice
  4. Pour the two tomato sauces into a four-cup measuring cup
  5. Add enough water so the liquid equals four cups (remember one part rice to two parts liquid)
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil
  7. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is incorporated and the rice is fully cooked

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