GF:Cheater Beans!

GF:Cheater Beans!, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m struggling for what to post. The reality is that our eating habits have changed for the better and the simpler. In fact, simple is what Zoe loves – so let’s go with it! Her favorite meal is congee (rice porridge) slowly cooked for hours with chicken stock and a few black beans thrown in for fiber or maybe some green onion, ginger and garlic. She could eat that for every meal, I think. And actually, so could I.

As an exchange student (light years ago), I got food poisoning – ironically at an “American Bistro”. (That’ll teach ya…. eat what is culturally appropriate, not the stuff you *think* you miss… LOL). The doctors put me on a rice/garlic soup for a few days. It was so soothing to my stomach and filling – or maybe I should say “fulfilling” – like I never knew rice to be. It wasn’t until I met my Love that I realized that congee (or rice porridge) is nothing new. It was new to me then – and certainly not something on my family menu as a kid growing up in Minnesota.

The other thing I find Zoe and myself craving that is so simple to make are refried beans. We call them cheater beans because I make them with canned beans. What the heck! I’m a working Momma – I don’t have the time (or the memory!!) to soak beans and cook them forever some nights. The protein from the beans nicely compliments whatever other veg is on the menu and fruit fits the bill for dessert.

See? Simple menus.

So simple that my lunch today was celery sticks with peanut butter and a half cup of yogurt. For which I packed a FORK to eat it??!! Oh yea, sleep deprivation is playing a role in our menu planning as well. We *do* think “What can we make on “xx”day because we won’t be home until 5:30 or 6?” This fact alone, has radically changed what we do and when we do it.

And while take out is sometimes an option….. it’s not always the healthiest and it gets old… fast.

So the other night? We had cheater beans, gingered-carrots and veggie-rice a la Mexican rice. Simple and delicious – and Zoe ate every bite. (She’s easy to please, however. The only food she WON’T eat are apples or mushy berries. Texture is her thing, I think.)

What are you eating on crazy nights that you find comfort in?
Here’s our recipe for cheater beans – feel free to adlib the spices. You won’t regret it.

Cheater Beans
Makes as much as each can will make

1 can beans – white, navy, kidney, black, etc. You’re choice!
2 Tablespoons bacon grease or olive oil with a dash of liquid smoke.
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2/3 can of water (use the same can from the beans to keep your ratio)
spices to taste: black pepper + cumin? chile powder? green onion? minced onion? oregano?


  1. Don’t rinse the beans, but drain the can a bit.
  2. Melt bacon grease over medium heat.
  3. Add garlic and stir until fragrant.
  4. Add the beans and the water to the pot with the garlic.
  5. Put over a low-medium low flame.
  6. Add water.
  7. Begin mashing the beans to your desired consistency with a potato masher (or a fork… if you have the patience! LOL)
  8. Taste and season.
  9. Serve warm with your other fabulous comfort food.

Eat this … and you’ll never again pay for refried beans again. You’ll know the YUM-Factor in making your own in hardly any time at all.



  1. Amanda Ryan says:

    I’ve just discovered your blog and look forward to trying some of your recipes – in fact I think I’m going to have a go at the beans tonight, with a rasher or two of bacon perhaps. I’m fascinated by your description of congee – do you have a recipe for it on your blog anywhere?

  2. YUM! I love white beans/navy beans too. I am going to try this tonight!

  3. I absolutely LOVE homemade beans like this and I tried congee last night just because you mentioned it. And we loved it! I have it for lunch today. I really love simple meals. We are so busy during the week, I just don’t have the time or the $$ to do fancy meals. So we eat very simple meals like this so often, and we love them!

  4. Kate,
    I just found your blog and look forward to reading it in the future. We are connected thru the Seattle Times article you read years ago –where you found the flour mix that you like to use. I was featured in that article and our goal was to promote that flour mix so more people with CD can benefit from the wonderful baked goods it produces. I use it together with amaranth, teff, buckwheat and quinoa flours and just started experimenting a bit with sorghum. You can find me at
    Karen Robertson

  5. Love, love, love beans!

  6. I am filled with fear that you might not post in the near future because you’re getting it worked out and don’t have the need to blog about it all the time!! :OS

    I would love to hear more about your menu planning, and because I’m such a visually oriented learner, I would also love to see some photos of organized stuff that you have. I am drawn to your blog not only because your recipes rock, but because you take such cool photos! The really give me the inspiration I need when I have days when it’s lacking.

    • Ah no… have no fear…. I’m a writer… just don’t have as much time to sit down and write as my pre-toddler days. No worries!

      AND THANK YOU for your comments – keeps me encouraged to keep writing!

  7. I am so glad that you are sharing her own food with her, and those dishes look sooooo good. I can not wait to try them. Did you and your hubby eat that way before the little rug rat? Because they look so much healthier then the normal americn diet. Even the gluten free diet. I can not wait to see pics of her she is growing so fast, I can not belive it….I know that does not seem like that too you, because you see her everyday, like my own daughter I don’t see her grow up until she gives me a hug, then I relize that she is even taller then I remember and I am having to look up even higher then the last time. Enjoy this time with her because before you know it you will be handing her the car keys and telling her to do a good job on her SAT and that you will see her tonight after her test and her job.

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