Paleo Refried Beans

Posted by Maria Emmerich in autoimmune disease, Colitis, Crohn's, egg free, eggplant, gluten free, IBS, Mexican, side dish, trans-fats, vegetarian 09 Nov 2010

Testimony of the Day

“In October I started on the path to having gastric bypass surgery after years of yo-yo dieting and being overweight since around age 8-9. I did everything from doctor supervised to phen-fen to WW to Medifast. My best weight loss was from Medifast but it quickly became too expensive and really was icky to drink shakes all day!
In January I had an initial health assessment and consult with Maria. I immediately stopped my diet coke addiction (over 40 oz a day) – that was the hardest one for me. During this time we started eating less wheat and sugar and by January 15th I got rid of all the grain products and went wheat free.
Since that consult with Maria in early January through today I’ve lost 51 lbs. The first 40 came of rather quickly and the last 11 have been slower, but are still coming off at about 1 to 1.5 lbs a week. All this with little exercise (since I’m allergic to it! Ha, Ha, Ha!) I canceled my WLS that was scheduled for April and couldn’t be happier. My moods are improved, I’m sleeping great, my body doesn’t ache all the time, my hands and feet aren’t always cold, I’ve not had a headache or acid reflux since late January, and my PMS is much better. I was experiencing facial ticks and vertigo type symptoms daily and the doctor didn’t know why but within 10 days of getting off the Diet Coke, they were gone and haven’t been back.
I still have a long way to go (another 75 lbs maybe) but am now confident I have the right knowledge and Maria to help guide me. Maria’s books, blog posts, and facebook page are great and full of eye-opening insights. We like most of her recipes I’ve made – especially the treats! Of all the things I’ve done to shed the pounds, consulting with Maria was the best money I’ve ever spent. Wish I would have found Maria sooner – I would have saved a ton of money on wasted programs. -Paula”

Click here to get started on your path to health!

Paula has made this such a lifestyle that she now makes healthy chocolates! You must check them out at 


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Most of you know re-fried beans are traditionally made with pinto beans. My program doesn’t allow beans. Sure, they seem harmless…no corn syrup, no trans-fats, no “plastic package” surrounding this food item…so what’s wrong with eating beans?

Well, first off, let’s check the ingredients in traditional re-fried beans = Prepared Dry Beans, Water, Salt, Lard (Partially Hydrogenated Lard With BHA And BHT Added To Help Protect Flavor), Onion Powder, Chili Pepper, Garlic Powder, Spice. Hydrogentated oils!!! Trans-fats = bad bad bad!

Beans also are very high in carbs. Sure they have protein, but with a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein, it is considered a carb in the nutrition books. I don’t believe beans have caused people to have a damaged metabolism, BUT since the typical American diet is filled with carbs and sugar, most people end up sensitive to carbs. Once that happens, things like beans have too much starch.

Beans, as well as grains, contain lectins, which are indigestible proteins found in plants that attach themselves to the lower intestine, causing a really unpleasant inflammatory response and a cascade of bowel issues. This is when people suffer from Crohn’s, colitis, IBS, and other auto-immune disorders. These lectins also increase the risk of leptin resistance (which I write a whole chapter on in Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism). Leptin is the hormone that signals that we are full, which can malfunction causing over-eating.

This is why I suggest a grain-free, bean-free diet. My passion is to make this limited diet as tasty as possible so you can stay successful! Here is a recipe that you will totally enjoy that is low in starch and no lectins!

More recipes, photos and tips like this are found in The Art of Eating Healthy Savory.

I know this recipe sounds crazy, but it is soooooo good! I have gotten so many comments saying that their spouse had no clue it wasn’t real re-fried beans.

1 eggplant (about 4 cups cubed) or zucchini
4 slices bacon
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS minced, seeded jalapeno
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt
Pinch cayenne
1/2 tsp chopped oregano
1/2 cup grated queso blanco or cheddar cheese (optional)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, garnish (optional)

Peel and cube the eggplant. Place cubes and 4 slices of uncooked bacon pieces in a pan. Stir fry until bacon is fried and eggplant is very very soft (about 10 minutes). Reserve bacon fat. Vegetarian Option: Peel and slice the eggplant, place in tinfoil and smoke in a wood smoker for 2 hours. This gives the eggplant a natural bacon flavor.

Place the eggplant (and bacon) in a food processor and puree until smooth. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Add the eggplant puree and any cooking liquid from the pot, and the oregano, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring with a heavy wooden spoon, until the mixture forms a thick paste, 5 to 10 minutes, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time to keep from getting dry. Sprinkle with the cheese and cilantro, and serve. Use my “Healthified” tortillas for burritos! Makes 8 servings.

Traditional Re-fried Beans = 183 calories, 6.6g fat, 7g protein, 24g carbs, 6g fiber (18 effective carbs)
“Healthified” Re-fried “Beans” = 93 calories, 5.6g fat, 5.7g protein, 5.8g carbs, 2.6g fiber (3.2 effective carbs)

  • Tricia Morris March 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm / Reply

    Thank you for this alternative bean recipe, Maria! I loved refried beans, but they certainly did NOT love me!

  • Wendy C March 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm / Reply

    Hi Maria,
    Just discovered your blog and really enjoy it. I have been looking for recipes and nutritional advice to cut out unhealthy carbs and to make better choices.I have a niece with type 1 diabetes so anything which will help her to have better choices, too, is good. I haven’t tried to make anything yet, but bought some of the ingrediants that I would need yesterday. Just one question, would you be able to post the number of total servings per recipe so that we know what amount one serving consists of?Or could you let us know the size/amount of one serving? We have to be pretty precise with my niece.Looking forward totrying some of your recopes, they sound great!!
    Thanks so much!

    • Maria Emmerich March 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm / Reply

      Thanks! Just above the nutritional comparison is says the number of servings (8). 🙂

  • Amy March 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm / Reply

    I cannot wait to try this recipe!

    And, I wanted to tell you that I made the healthified sub sandwich bread and absolutely love it! It will now be a staple in my house. I’m slowly trying your recipes and this week I’m trying the cauliflower “rice.” I feel so much better since I’ve changed the way I eat. Thank you so much for all your hard work…you help so many people!

  • Wendy c March 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm / Reply

    Maria, found the serving amount, no need for a reply, thanks!

  • Fahd Iqbal Malik March 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm / Reply

    OMG it looks so delicious, I want some. Seriously really nice recipe.

  • Anonymous March 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm / Reply

    Love all your recipes!!!

    I’m Mexican and i LOVE atole,champurrado,rompope,arroz con leche (rice pudding),sopes, enchiladas, enfrijoladas, tortas, buenuelos, churros, flan, mexican bread desserts (conchas, cemas, pan de mueto, rosca), tamales (also sweet tameles) , empanadas, posole, tostadas, raspados, mole, flour tortillas… and the deliciousness could go on forever, so its pretty hard to let go of all that go since it is a part of not just my culture but of myself as wel. If you could “HEALTHIFY” some of these foods you would be a life savor. Thank You so much for all that you do 🙂

    Thnak you, Thank you, Thank you 🙂

  • Jan Sproutsnsquats March 9, 2013 at 9:28 pm / Reply

    Wow this recipe looks amazing will have to give it a try.

    Congratulations on the news about your books being available in Japan and now 51 countries that is huge! 🙂

  • Pam March 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm / Reply

    Maria, are you familiar with the book – “And They Said It Wasn’t Possible: True Stories Of People Who Were Healed From The Impossible” by Karen R. Hurd? I would be very interested in your analysis of the book because she has the exact opposite opinion about beans and how healing they are for bowel issues – has amazing stories of healing from increasing bean consumption. I find myself caught between your writings and hers and don’t know which way to go.

    • Maria Emmerich March 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm / Reply

      I have not read her book but I have met her and know her philosophy. I believe more along the lines of what is written here by Weston A. Price (and I also write about in my book):

      “Another difficult-to-digest food category is legumes or beans, especially soy, and they add to digestive distress because they are high in nutrient inhibitors. However, when fermented, soy foods such as miso, tempe, or natto contain virtually no phytates and are probably fine in small amounts.”

    • Pam March 15, 2013 at 11:12 pm / Reply

      I appreciate your reply, Maria. I guess I need to do more reading and educate myself better on the subject. Thank you!

  • Anonymous March 11, 2013 at 3:35 am / Reply

    Is your class still open??

    Also, I have a HUGE request. I am a dark chocolate lover & I am spending sooooo much money on bars! Lol my husband wants me to learn how to make it homemade! Like a really really good chcolate bar (healthy of course!) is here a link you would recommend of better yet– do YOU have a recipe?? I would die & go to heaven!! Ps congrats on the book!! Xoxoxo

    • Maria Emmerich March 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm / Reply

      Yes, just go here to get setup. 🙂

      Yes, you can make your own using this recipe:
      1.2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
      4 TBS coconut oil (use expeller pressed if you want no coconut flavor)
      1 TBS sweetener (Confectioners Swerve)
      Combine and stir a lot until thick. pour out on flat surface and cool. 🙂

    • Samantha March 13, 2013 at 5:33 am / Reply

      Hi Maria, would Stevia be okay?

      And what do you think about using creamed coconut bars in cooking?

    • Maria Emmerich March 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm / Reply

      Yes, that would work. 🙂

  • sublimebetty March 11, 2013 at 7:59 pm / Reply

    Is this freezable?

  • Jess March 12, 2013 at 5:13 am / Reply

    This is my first time to hear about this refried beans. I find it interesting because of the benefits it contains and I would love to try it out since I am into healthy eating now since I having problems with my health. I hope I would love it =)

  • Anonymous March 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm / Reply

    Hi Maria…I’m a blog follower of yours (also have several of your books) and have read many of your posts like this one about beans, yet notice you have many recipes that contain peanuts/peanut butter/flour…just curious about your thoughts on this since peanuts are technically a bean. Thanks, Kelly

    • Maria Emmerich March 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm / Reply

      I rarely use peanut flours in my recipes and am using it less and less. It doesn’t have the carb issues of beans but may have some of the other issues. The recipes I do have it in are desserts that are not eaten often. 🙂

    • reikime March 26, 2013 at 7:35 pm / Reply

      Is PB2 from Bell Plantantarion, the same as peanut flour? I put a little PB2 in smoothies from time to time to make a peanut butter cup smoothie. Yum!

    • Maria Emmerich March 26, 2013 at 10:40 pm / Reply

      I think PB2 might be more de-fatted than peanut flour. 🙂

  • Anonymous March 12, 2013 at 9:37 pm / Reply


    I know you are the person to ask this question. I just recently went to my primary care dr. because i struggle with severe consipation, sometimes more than others. She said it was related to my “cycle” – when progestrone is high. Is this true? I get EXTREMELY bloated, tired, & constipated. (TMI?). I was wondering if you know anything about this to prevent from happening? Thank you in advance…

  • Anonymous March 12, 2013 at 9:46 pm / Reply

    ps- i just wanted to say I eat a no grain diet. High in good fats. (comment above) so i really dont feel like its my diet!

    • Maria Emmerich March 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm / Reply

      Yes. Take probiotics. Low estrogen causes low serotonin causes constipation. 🙂

    • Maria Emmerich March 13, 2013 at 4:19 pm / Reply

      You can also try taking 800 mg magnesium citrate at bed. 🙂

  • Anonymous March 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm / Reply

    What about the bloat for that whole week 🙁 just the probiotics? I swear it’s so painful!! And no girl likes to feel blah

    • Maria Emmerich March 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm / Reply

      Sounds like hormones are imbalanced. I can help with HAQ… you probably need Estrofactors, zinc as well as others.

  • Darcy March 15, 2013 at 3:56 am / Reply


    I’ve been surfing your site for sometime now and have finally tried a couple of your recipes. They are delicious! I made the “refried beans” and your tortillas to go with some carne asada. It was delicious and if I can get my 18 and 15 year old sons to eat them then it’s a hit – now if I can get them off of flour tortillas! We also tried the Rueben Enchiladas – another hit, although I renamed the Irish Enchiladas for St Paddy’s Day. Thanks for sharing all of your recipes!

  • Anonymous March 18, 2013 at 7:19 pm / Reply

    Hi Maria – I made the refried beans over the weekend – delicious! Also tried the tortilla from your quesadilla recipe. I used my tortilla press and they came out great 🙂


  • Anonymous March 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm / Reply

    Tried the refried “beans” this weekend, loved them! When ever I make one of your recipes my husband always loves them. I just say “it’s Maria’s” and he knows it will be good!

  • soph April 6, 2013 at 2:35 am / Reply

    I’m making the zucchini version at the moment. I didn’t peel the zucchini but didn’t consider whether I should have until it was already chopped and in the pot. I think it’ll be alright! Is it better peeled?

    I’ll post how the recipe turns out!

    • Maria Emmerich April 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm / Reply

      You get lots of great nutrients from the peel, but it may change the texture a bit. 🙂

  • Rachel Page April 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm / Reply

    Looks yummy and filling.

  • Fernanda October 18, 2013 at 9:43 pm / Reply

    Hi maria did you use eggplant or zuchinni in your recipe and what is the flavor difference?

    • cemmerich October 18, 2013 at 11:10 pm / Reply

      I used zucchini. They both take up flavor well.

  • Kim November 11, 2013 at 2:23 am / Reply

    I have searched high and low for SF bacon. What if it says: contains 2% or less of the following, then it lists raw sugar or turbindo sugar…and the carb and sugar show 0 grams, is this ok? Thx!!

    • cemmerich November 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm / Reply

      They use sugar in the curing process. There is very little if any left in the final product. Just make sure you don’t get the Maples ones or others with added sugars.

  • Alexia January 18, 2014 at 11:41 pm / Reply

    I have a question regarding beans and lectins- I was born with a metabolic disorder called cystinuria and follow a low methionine diet. I’ve recently been lowering my grains and boost weight loss, and have found your website to be very helpful. In place of animal proteins I eat beans almost daily as a low methionine protein and have been soaking them for 24 hours to lower the lectins. What’s your take on soaking beans? Thank you for any input you might have.

  • Sodapop February 8, 2014 at 11:32 pm / Reply

    Do you have a faux refried beans recipe with black soy beans? I bought a can and they are only 1g net carb per serving with no salt added and organic!

  • Sodapop February 9, 2014 at 7:49 pm / Reply

    Are black soy beans healthy? I bought a can of edens organic black soy beans and they only have 1g net carb.

    • cemmerich February 9, 2014 at 10:32 pm / Reply

      Well, soy is estrogenic. So I try to avoid it. 🙂

  • Mama Owl July 1, 2014 at 7:24 pm / Reply

    can you point me in the direction of psyllium husk powder? where do I find it?

  • DP August 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm / Reply

    All I can say is YUM! I am a vegetarian with no access to a smoker, so I did the next best thing. I purchased some liquid smoke and placed a few drops of it into the food processor after sauteing the eggplant.

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I missed my refried beans and now my tummy is very, very happy. LOL!

    • cemmerich August 15, 2014 at 1:44 pm / Reply


  • Kathy September 1, 2014 at 7:56 pm / Reply

    I have two of your books and love them. I saw this recipe in Jimmy Moore’s “Keto Clarity” and it sounded so good I ran out to buy an eggplant (this is NOT like me, at all!). I made these refried “beans” today for lunch and they are amazing! I’m diabetic with celiacs and multiple food allergies, including kidney beans. I love Mexican food and refried beans in particular. This recipe was so delicious, I just had to write and thank you. I have no idea what made you think to do this with an eggplant, but the result is truly bean-like! You’re a marvel!

    • cemmerich September 1, 2014 at 8:54 pm / Reply

      Thank you!

  • Lita Wells January 18, 2015 at 8:07 pm / Reply

    These are great. Thank you. I don’t know how you thought to use eggplant in this way, but it really works!

    • Maria Emmerich January 19, 2015 at 10:18 am / Reply


  • Renee February 12, 2015 at 8:11 pm / Reply

    Absolutely, wonderfully delicious! My Mexican food loving husband could not believe it! I am now an eggplant fan!

    • Maria Emmerich February 13, 2015 at 1:15 pm / Reply


  • Wren April 12, 2015 at 11:16 am / Reply

    Just made these this morning, after seeing it in “Keto Clarity”. I used zucchini and it was very very good! I love how the onions give a little bit of texture to it, almost mimicking bean texture. It was very very spicy to me though, and I didn’t even add any jalepeno. Next time I guess I’ll use 1/2 as much chili powder.

    • Maria Emmerich April 12, 2015 at 5:39 pm / Reply

      Thank you!

  • Anne May 29, 2015 at 1:17 am / Reply

    I love the “refried beans” – skeptical at first as usual, but I have now made another batch. I used smoked paprika as well. I can almost believe they are a lighter form of the real thing. I also made Spanish “rice”. Now I will tackle Chicken Fried Rice with “rice”. Thanks Maria!

    • Maria Emmerich May 29, 2015 at 9:34 am / Reply


  • Allison July 2, 2015 at 5:02 pm / Reply

    Oh Man this recipe is FANTASTIC! Just finished making it and had my husband taste it. He is loves all Mexican food, but he liked this so much he immediately told his friend about it and got our daughter to try some without telling her what it was. She loved it too.

    Going to go back to the store to get enough eggplant to make up a large quantity of it and will freeze it smaller portions! I also liked how the bacon and eggplant cooked together–think I will do some of that for a breakfast hash and add a fried egg on it! Thanks Maria!!

    • Maria Emmerich July 2, 2015 at 5:56 pm / Reply

      Awesome! Thanks!

  • JE February 27, 2016 at 10:32 pm / Reply

    This was delicious, you’re ingenious! Thank you for this great recipe.

  • JE May 7, 2016 at 12:35 am / Reply

    Every time I make this I like it more!

    • Maria Emmerich May 7, 2016 at 9:23 am / Reply

      Awe! Thanks!

  • Robin May 31, 2016 at 8:43 pm / Reply

    Can liquid smoke be used? No ability to smoke the eggplant and don’t eat bacon. Thanks. I enjoyed reading all the posts here.

    • Maria Emmerich June 1, 2016 at 7:16 am / Reply


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