Pinto beans, lima beans, green beans, kidney beans, navy beans, great northern beans — how many of you have heard groans or complaints anytime beans of any kind are served?
When I was a little girl, my parents always asked us to eat at least a small portion of whatever Mom put on the table, whether that be pinto beans, kidney beans or their “first cousins,” none of which were on my list of tasty foods at all. If you’re like I used to be, then hang on — this time I saved the best for last. You and your guests will never even think about beans as you snack on my guilt-free bean fudge.
In recent years, I have come to appreciate the nutritional value found in the legume family. The fiber, protein and iron content is impossible to beat for such an incredibly low-priced food.
Now, here is the question: How do I get my little ones (and hubby) to eat ample amounts of these nutritious beans without them getting tired of their bland taste and squishy texture? My husband, Daniel, doesn’t complain about beans. Like me, he views variety as the spice of life. Why not try different ways of eating ordinary foods? With enough positive thinking (and maturing), I’ve actually learned to like those once-disliked beans, especially when sautéed with bacon and onions. Daniel likes when they are served baked bean-style with plenty of barbecue sauce, ham and bacon.
Several spices that seem especially good at adding flavor to pinto beans are cumin, paprika and chili powder. Garlic and onion, whether fresh or powdered, also add a delicious twist.
I’ve been trying to find new ways of smuggling pinto beans into our diet without my family knowing. Refried beans never impressed me. I always detected them by their taste and texture when Mom would dump them into fried venison. In my way of thinking, it just didn’t add any value.
Recently I had a homemade dip that I was impressed with at my friend Marie’s house. After browning her meat, she added pinto beans that had been blended with cream cheese, water and seasonings, resulting in a tasty dip — with her guests not detecting any traces of beans.
After that experience, I decided to try something new. After cooking pinto beans until nice and soft, I blended them until they were completely smooth, adding oil and vinegar which aided in making my concoction easier to blend. Next I added some taco seasoning and some sweeteners until it tasted just like taco salad dressing. I was eager to see whether I could get it by Daniel’s sharp taste buds without him detecting a beany flavor. I was a bit nervous as I served it to him. Whoopie! I was delighted he did not notice anything odd in his taco salad. It was an excellent motivator for me to keep trying out new ideas.
I am eager to tell you about my new favorite way of eating pinto beans. It’s truly amazing. You’d never guess beans to be the number one ingredient in this chocolate fudge recipe. No two batches turn out the same. I keep experimenting and trying out new variations. Daniel likes when I add some peppermint for a Peppermint Pattie effect. Julia especially likes when I add a handful of raisins. This fudge has become my “standby snack” for Julia, Austin and me for mid-afternoon snack attacks. I like having a few squares spread with peanut butter and cream cheese for an easy dessert.
This is a delicious way to add some protein to your children’s diet. They won’t have a clue they are eating beans when you give them this tasty treat. My little ones eat it like candy. Give your imagination free rein, adding whatever strikes your fancy. We also like this fudge with coconut, raisins, some instant coffee, protein powder or peppermint oil. Refrigerator or freeze. Enjoy, guilt free.
2 cups dried pinto beans (or 2 pounds cooked)
¾ cup coconut oil
¼ cup butter, browned
½ cup peanut butter (unsweetened)
½ cup maple syrup or agave
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon stevia powder
1 teaspoon salt
Soak beans overnight.
The next day, simmer beans over low heat until soft, approximately 105 minutes or until soft. Beat until nice and smooth. Then add remaining ingredients.
Pat into 9- by 9-inch pan or form into balls and roll in coconut or chopped nuts if desired.