Homemade Refried Beans

I am converted.

I can never go back. 

Canned refried beans, I’m sorry. 

We must break up forever.

Best refried beans ever! 

Simple ingredients.

High in protein and fiber.

Easy preparation.

No fancy equipment required. 

Here it is.

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Add onion, garlic, and oil to a skillet heated on medium heat. Saute until caramelized in color.

Add beans and liquid to the skillet. Begin mashing with a potato masher. (If you don’t have one, the back of a cooking ladle/spoon will work as well.)

Add salt, cumin, and paprika. Continue to mash.

Mash until all the beans are uniform. It usually takes me about 10-20 minutes (depending on how soft the beans are.)

The beans thicken up as they cool down (as the fiber in the beans will continue to soak up some of the liquid).

Serve with your favorite tacos, chips, rice, or guacamole!

Kat’s Homemade Refried Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
  • Oil to coat pan
  • 6 cups cooked pinto beans
  • 2 cups liquid*
  • 1-2 tsp of salt (to taste)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika or chili powder

Makes about 7 cups total. 

Directions

Prepare pinto beans. (I will do another post on how I prepare beans up here at college.)

Saute onion with garlic in a pan with a little oil (about 1-2 tbsp.). I like to use either coconut oil or canola oil.

Add beans, liquid, salt, cumin, and paprika. Mash with a potato masher over medium-low heat until smooth and uniform. (If you don’t have one, the back of a cooking ladle/spoon will work as well.) It usually takes me about 10-20 minutes, depending on how soft the beans are. I like mine a little chunky.

Serve with your favorite tacos, chips, rice, or guacamole!

Notes

*I use the liquid from the beans cooking. You can also use broth, water, or even the liquid from the cans if using canned beans.

**I started with 2 cups dried and cooked them in my crock-pot. If you are short on time, you can use three to four 15-oz cans of prepared beans.

***If you have a powerful blender, you can even blend up the beans instead of mashing them to save time.

Print This Recipe

You can easily make a half of a batch. I like to cook a big bath of beans and freeze the extras to have on hand when I want to make another batch; it helps cut down on time in the kitchen (which is a blessing as a college student). 

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What is your favorite dish with refried beans?

I’m Back!

Hi everyone!

How have you been? A lot has happened these past two years. I am grateful for the families I met, served, and loved for 18 months while on my mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Serving 24/7 changed me for the better. I learned a lot about myself, and also learned Spanish. (Es cierto. Español es el idioma de los cielos. Me encanta hablarlo.)

I returned home the end of February, and a few weeks afterwards went up to school to continue my studies. Life is so different than what it was two years ago. This last semester (accompanied with lots of prayer), I decided that I didn’t want to be a physician assistant. I don’t want to give more medications to individuals — I want to help them live happier and healthier through good nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management. And while taking my biology class, I felt a huge love for all of it. I want to be a dietitian and gain a further science foundation to then be able to teach others. (Maybe even someday be a nutrition professor.)

These past few weeks I’ve been spending my school break with my family. I’ve been doing a lot of baking. I made homemade bread with my mom. (Homemade bread is to die for!) We use our homemade jam on top.

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I also made rolls using my homemade bread recipe, just rolling them into golf-ball size balls of dough, letting hem ride until doubled, and baking them for about 20 minutes at 350F. Those went quick!

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While serving among the Latin culture, I learned to make homemade beans, tortillas, guacamole, salsa verde, etc! These will be recipes soon to come.

I go back up to school in a couple of weeks. I’m excited to take Nutritional Biochemistry, Program Planning, and Intro to Dietetics this semester. I will continue working as a class mentor and teacher assistant in the Nutrition Department. (I love learning from and working with my nutrition professors.) I will also be working at the Wellness Center and helping out with the Nutrition consultations.

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I’m now a senior and will earn my bachelor degree in Health Promotions this next year. I’m planning to take the CHES exam this next October and then go on to graduate school and study dietetics. I’m excited for the journey that lies ahead: the inside life of a health promotion student.

Lessons I’ve Learned Taking a Break from Blogging

Hi my Shining Stars!

I just returned from finishing my second year of college. It feels so strange being a junior at college. How does time fly by so quickly? So much has happened these past few months. (I’ll talk more about those things further down in this post.) It’s been a few months since I’ve posted on my blog, but the break has been good for me. I have found greater balance in my life and have learned so much. Here are some lessons I’ve learned during my break from blogging:

“The key is to not prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. Do the important things first” (Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).

When I read this quote for the first time, it inspired me and changed the way I approached organizing my time. As a full-time student, tutor, Student Living manager, teacher assistant, Sunday school teacher, friend, and roommate, my plate was full most of the day. Even though my schedule was busier this last semester than it ever has been before, I felt like I had more time and could accomplish more. And because of it, I found it easier to accomplish and fulfill my responsibilities while still having time on the side to have a little fun.

I also learned about the importance of delegation. With my schedule, I couldn’t accomplish everything that needed to get done by myself. Thankfully, I had assistants with the student living who helped me watch over the girls in the apartment complex. One day when my schedule was a mess, my roommates volunteered to take care of my clean check. It was a huge burden lifted from my shoulder, and I really appreciated their willingness to help me during a difficult time.

Another strategy I have used to manage my time is to keep a detailed schedule on my phone. I plan out almost every second of my life. (When I’m not in school, I’m more lenient with my time and do a more general list; but, during the semester, a detailed plan is the only thing that keeps me focused.) “Wakeup, pray, shower, read scriptures, prepare for day, 9:00am NUTR350 class (Sport’s Nutrition), 10:00am NUTR150 TA, 12:45pm HS331 class (Women’s Health), 2:00pm ESS375 (Exercise Physiology), 3:15pm Chem101 tutoring, homework …” was a typical beginning to my day at school.

On my chest of drawers I also used sticky notes (one column per day, one sticky note per assignment, one color per class) to help me stay organized. Each weekend I would record the assignments I needed to accomplish the next week on my sticky notes, and as I completed an assignment, I had the delight of taking the sticky note off, tearing it to pieces, throwing it away, and “burning it” (or at least I felt like doing that sometimes), never to have it in my life again. (The recycle bin definitely filled with colors…)


Put the Lord first, and everything else falls into place.

With all my assignments that piled up on a daily basis, sometimes during the semester it seemed like I had no time to do anything I wanted to, let alone pray and read my scriptures. However, I could feel a difference on the days I prayed and read my scriptures first thing in the morning and the days I didn’t. By making the Lord my highest priority – before my school work, miracles transpired. I have learned that my spiritual nourishment is just as important, if not more, as physical nourishment. By praying and reading my scriptures before tackling other responsibilities, somehow I vanquish the mountain of assignments for the day. It amazes me, and I know it is the Spirit that helps my mind stay clear. The Lord uses my time better than I can, and He helps me use my time wisely. When I put Him first, I find a few seconds to catch my breath between classes and get to bed at a decent hour. On the days I don’t start my morning with the Lord, I struggle to accomplish anything, let alone focus on what I’m learning. By showing the Lord He is first in all I do, He helps me stay on course. He uses my time better than I could ever imagine. It almost seems like I have more time during the day than normal. His companionship is the greatest gift I could desire as a crammed college student.

Be patient. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV).

I was a strong-willed child. My parents had the worst time trying to get me to try new foods. I refused to eat anything new, and they had to almost literally force it into my mouth. Then, after I had tasted it and liked it, I was a happy baby and wanted more. When I was an infant, one woman had observed me and told my mom that I would either be the President of the United States or a mafia boss. (Haha, I’ve always wondered why she said such polar opposites.) When I went to day-care for a day, the care-givers said that had I been there for another day, I would be running the place. I wasn’t afraid to say things as they were. When my parents found me with cookie-crumbs around my mouth and asked me if I had been in the cookie jar, I was the two year old child who would look them straight in the eye and say, “You didn’t see me do it.”

It’s a natural tendency to want things to go our way. A few years ago I had “established” plans for my life – what I would major in, when I would leave for my mission, who I would marry, where I would live, how I would do that, how I would do this, etc. Nevertheless, despite these plans, the past few years have brought many changes to my life and have shown me that the Lord has greater plans for my life than I could ever imagine. I’ve learned that patience throughout the journey is key. Yes, the sights may look nice from a distance, but sometimes when you reach that place, you’re not ready to jump out yet and settle. That’s what I’ve found. Earlier this year I determined that I would leave for my mission after I finished my third semester in April and had my birthday in May. However, when that time was approaching, I didn’t feel ready to leave. Despite my plans, I had this feeling that I needed to stay for another semester before I reported. It was a painful decision. Leave and return sooner so I could see a friend, or stay and leave later. Change is hard. It’s natural to want life to go as planned, but life has many turns and bridges that can appear unexpectantly along the road. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned that things don’t always go my way and aren’t always best if they do go my way. Here I am now, with retrospect on this previous semester, and I’m grateful I followed that feeling to stay for another semester (despite how difficult it was). Apparently, my roommate had prayed for a friend like me. I took a class that opened my eyes to a new possibility of a career. (See more below.) Students I tutored told me they were grateful I had stayed and not left yet. My testimony was strengthened, and I feel more prepared to share my testimony. And I got to know and spend time with a particular guy friend I met my third semester. (And now I really like him. See below for more details.)


Though I had to wait, waiting was best for me. I now have experiences I will cherish for the rest of my life. Sometimes, taking the scenic road is the most enjoyable. Now, I have been called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have been assigned to labor in the Utah Provo Mission, I report to the Mexico MTC (Missionary Training Center) August 20th to prepare to share my testimony of Jesus Christ in the Spanish language! I am so excited to learn Spanish – it has been one of my goals to learn Spanish, and knowing Spanish can increase my capacity to serve others. I took a Spanish class in high school, but I did not retain much of what I learned. (I could pronounce words and had an okay understanding of phrases I read, but I could not carry a conversation or understand much of what I heard.) Now I am reading my scriptures in Spanish, and it amazes me how much the Lord helps me as I strive to learn to help others. After I received my mission call, I went to the temple and made sacred covenants with the Lord to serve Him with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. Ever since then, my desire to share my testimony, feast upon the words of Christ, fast and pray, and serve others has increased. I never tire of helping others, which is one reason I love my college degree of Health Promotions.

Right now, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be, and that feeling helps me press forward, despite the waves of life.

Be open to new possibilities. You can enjoy chocolate as well as vanilla or strawberry.

During my first semester at college, my professor for my Personal Health and Fitness class told me I should look into becoming a PA (physician’s assistant). As a college freshman I smiled, told him I didn’t handle blood well, and put the thought aside. The next semester I took Anatomy and Physiology I. I became more interested in the body, and I loved learning about how the brain conducts neural impulses, how the skin protects the body, how bones grow, etc. At first, I only needed to take A&P I class for my degree, but I felt impressed that I needed to take A&P II as well. However, I was scared. I told my mom part one was “hard enough.” However, she then reminded me of my experience in first grade. As a child, I loved math. When I was bored, I would give myself math problems to solve. In school, my teacher had math flash cards she would have us complete, and I was soaring through them. But, one day, they became harder, so I completely stopped doing them. My teacher told my mom what happened, and that night my mom had a talk with me, and years later my mom reminded me of that lesson: I can do hard things. I am more capable than I think, and it is by facing challenges that I can break mental boundaries and realize my true potential.

The next semester, I took Anatomy and Physiology II, and I loved it. I loved how I could apply the concepts I learned in A&P I to understand how other parts of the body function. It was one of my favorite classes I have taken so far, and through this class I became increasingly interested in how the body functions. Then, this last semester, I felt prompted to take HS320 – Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases. Though, at first, I didn’t understand why I was taking it. I had to learn the description, etiology, symptoms, diagnostic procedures, treatment, prognosis, and prevention of over 200 diseases, and obviously I wasn’t going to use that information afterwards with nutrition. However, throughout the semester, I prayed for a love for the class and prayed that I could find meaning in the things I was studying. And then it happened. I found a joy for the concepts I was learning. Studying those diseases became something I wanted to do instead of just something I had to do. And the assignments and tests became fun – I felt like a detective trying to figure out what a patient was experiencing. And with this increased love and joy for the class, the tests became easier. (The class was still the hardest one I took that semester, but it then seemed not as arduous.) My teacher asked me about my plans for the future and told me I would become a great PA. This time, I listened. I researched it. And as I considered it, I felt like I could see myself doing something like this. It requires only two more years of school after my bachelors, and I could still earn my Health Promotions degree if I took the pre-requisite classes my PA school requires. It can actually work. It will take work on my end though, talking to my supervisors, petitioning to take certain classes, but it can happen.

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for nutrition. This subject has fascinated me since my youth, and since I’ve been at college, I have taken 4 out of the 5 courses available. (I’ve taken Essentials of Nutrition, NUTR 150, Nutrient Metabolism, NUTR 200, Nutrition in the Life Cycle, NUTR 330, and Sport’s Nutrition, NUTR 350. I only have Nutritional Biochemistry, NUTR 400, left – even though it will be an elective, I feel that understanding how nutrients work in the body can help me become a better PA and be able to educate individuals in a healthy lifestyle.) Ever since I was young, I believed that before we prescribe medications, we should analyze the nutritional and aerobic status of an individual and see what could be improved. Perhaps they have a nutritional deficiency that if corrected could solve the symptoms present. (For instance, lacking copper, folate, B12, or iron could result in anemia and decrease an individual’s amount of energy.) Perhaps exercising regularly could reduce an individual’s need to take pain pills for their back or leg to sleep at night. A healthy lifestyle improves fertility, self-esteem, body composition, sleeping patterns, blood pressure levels, and insulin sensitivity and simply helps people feel better. After their lifestyle is addressed, then we could consider medications if still necessary. (Don’t get me wrong – I highly respect medications. Medications have saved and continue to save millions of people every year. However, I feel we shouldn’t be so easy in prescribing them. Medications have their time and place, and they also have their potential adverse side effects.)


In addition to my school studies, I have also learned that there is not one soul mate in the world for me. I have grown to care for another guy. I never thought this would happen to me. Before I came up to college, I thought there was only one guy in the world for whom I would care and like, like what the fairy tales show. However, as I interacted with him in class, I found myself filled with butterflies whenever I was around him. I loved being with him. I looked forward to that two-hour class every single week. He made me feel so happy inside. He knew how to make me smile, and we worked well together and loved helping others understand what we were learning in class. I loved taking walks with him and simply talking. Whenever I received a message from him, I got all excited inside and had the biggest smile on my face. (My roommates can attest to this.) He also gives the BEST hugs. (Gosh, I never wanted those hugs to end.) Ultimately, I could see myself happy with him.

However, these feelings also just make me feel confused inside. As I reflect on these two guys, I could see myself happy with both of them for different reasons. Sometimes the hardest decisions aren’t between right and wrong, but deciding between two good/right things. One thing I am grateful for is that I will have some time away and will continue getting to know both of these young men through letters, and when I return I can find out how this story will continue.

Whether I marry either of them or a different guy altogether, the lessons I’ve learned through knowing both of them I will cherish forever.

Live in the moment. Be present.

There is so much in life to enjoy.

Earlier this year, I just wished my life would move faster. Having friends (especially one particular guy friend) in foreign countries serving church missions, I find myself daydreaming about when I’ll see them again, wishing for time to just fly by and make that reunion come sooner. It’s been over twenty months since I’ve seen my guy friend, and I’m only at the half-way mark of when I’ll see him again (as I’ll have already left to serve an 18 month mission when he comes back to the United States). I email him every week, but I still miss him, more than I want to admit. And now that this other guy has entered my life… More than once I’ve wished for 2016 to just happen so I can see both of these guys again, and tears have soaked my pillow on more than one occasion. I truly admire individuals who have family member(s) serving in the military overseas and are away from them for long periods at a time.

On one of those tearful nights, I poured my heart out to the Lord, telling Him the confusion I felt. Then, I felt a loving, peaceful feeling embrace me, like His arms were around me, comforting me and reminding me to press forward. It then hit me: despite my wishes for the calendar to speed up, I don’t want to waste the next couple years. I want to make the most of these years and not just lie around moaning. I need to live in the moment. I still miss my guy friend who is serving a mission, and I will definitely miss the guy I got to know these last two semesters at school. It hurts to leave, but I know this is the path I need to take before I start the next chapter in my life. They are both dedicated to serving God and others with their whole heart, might, mind, and strength. They are away right now, and I’m here. They have lessons to learn where they are, and I have lessons to learn here. There are friends to strengthen, students to serve, feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, and hearts to inspire. Life isn’t meant to just be lived – it’s also meant to be enjoyed along the way. I don’t know what my life will end up after I return. Time will keep ticking on, and I will see them again, but I can enjoy the wind in my hair, the sun shining on my back, and the rain sprinkling down on my face as I wait.


Life is always full of more lessons to learn. Learn to love learning.

As I accomplish the classes for my degree, I’m amazed at my capability. As a child I learned the basics of ABCs and 123s, and now I utilize those symbols to convey concepts in Chemistry, Anatomy, and Physiology. Since my childhood, I’ve learned line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept. For instance, the first time I read a scripture, I may have a certain understanding of it, but the more I study, ponder, and pray about it, the greater understanding I can have of the verse. Likewise, the more I apply and make connections with what I’ve learned, these concepts comes to life. This is how I’ve learned since I was a child. It’s like a painting. An artist starts with the base colors and builds upon it brush-stroke by brush-stroke, layer upon layer.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know. Every person on this planet is an expert – we have great understanding in differing areas of knowledge, whether anatomy, psychology, baking, flying, listening, astronomy, comforting, teaching, speaking, cleaning, farming, selling, or parenting. We each have our own set of strengths and weaknesses, and we can share what we’ve learned with each other so we can all benefit. Even after I feel like I’ve learned a lesson from life, there’s always more to learn. Even after I finish a class, there’s more I can learn from and through it. Yes, tutoring can be stressful at times, but seeing that light in the student’s eyes when he understands the concept makes every second worth the effort. Grading assignments can get tiresome, but giving feedback to other students helps me apply the knowledge I’ve acquired to assist others cultivate deeper comprehension of the material. When I share with and teach others what I have learned, I develop a greater understanding of it.

Even in my nutrition class I have learned concepts that have changed the way I look at food. For instance, we analyzed the chemical profile of HFCS, and what I learned is that HFCS in itself is not the issue. In my Nutrient Metabolism class, we learned about how they create HFCS. They take corn starch and add the enzyme that breaks down the starch molecules into individual glucose molecules. They then split the batch, keeping half of it as glucose and adding an enzyme to the other half that turns it to fructose. They then mix the fructose back into the glucose, making HFCS. HFCS actually has a similar nutritional chemical profile that regular table sugar (sucrose) has – they are both made of glucose molecules and fructose molecules, though HFCS has a slightly higher content of fructose (I believe about 55% fructose and 45% glucose, compared to sucrose’s 50% fructose and 50% glucose ratio). There is an association with an increase in obesity rates with an increase intake of HFCS, but is it necessarily HFCS that is causing the increase in weight, or is it simply an increased intake of processed foods (that just so happen to contain HFCS)? HFCS is definitely a processed ingredient and I would definitely suggest honey over it (since honey at least has some nutritional benefits). However, they are both sugars and should be used sparingly. Excess empty calories, added sugars, and solid fats are the true perpetrators – not necessarily HFCS.

I keep learning more every day. I love being in college, and I look forward to continuing my learning throughout my next semesters and afterwards. The nutrition professor I worked with these past two semesters gave me this Love of Learning figurine and told me to “hold on to your love of learning. Continually fuel that fire. Reach for the sky and soar.”

I love how this figurine is holding the book up to her heart and looking onward. Taking what I learn to heart, holding on to it, embracing it – that is how I feel towards learning, and I believe all of us have the potential to soar.

Family is important.

In the end, my family is the most important part of my life. They are always there for me. Though I will be thousands of miles away from my family, they will always be close to my heart. Love makes distances seem shorter.

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I am so grateful for my blog and the years I’ve been able to write through it. I have not found a perfect balance with myself, but every day I find a better balance than I had the previous day. Right now, the plan is to become a Certified Health Education Specialist and become a Physician Assistant afterwards. This blog has a soft place in my heart, and I will forever cherish the memories I have through it and the people I have met. After I return from my mission, I hope to either continue this blog or begin a new chapter in my life. Either way, I will let you know.

I wish you all the best! Keep moving forward – you can accomplish great things in the world one step at a time.🙂

With lots of hugs,

Kathleen