Beans and Chilaquiles


This post is about beans and a recipe for chilaquiles and no sodum tortilla chips.

What I Know About Beans

Fava beans have been a common food source and were cultivated since Neolithic times. They have been cultivated in Thailand since the early 7th millennium BCE and predated ceramics there. Beans have been found in Egyptian burial sites.  The oldest known domesticated beans in the Americas were found in Peru and date to around the 2nd millennium BCE.

Many North and South American indigenous cultures planted corn, beans and squash together.  The beans would climb up the corn stalks and the squash would weave in and around the beans and corn.

The beans would add nitrogen back into the soil and squash loves nitrogen.  Also the squash, with their rather prickly leaves would deter critters from eating the beans, corn and squash.  This was a symbiotic relationship for the vegetables.

Beans are high in protein and complex carbohydrates, folate and iron.  Together with the corn and squash they are a near perfect nutritional combination.  Not only did Native Americans utilize beans as a source of protein, but many African cultures did also.

In Europe fava beans were the preferred bean until the sixteenth century when South American beans (Phaseolus) had been introduced after Columbian-era contact between Europe and the Americas. Then South American beans came into favor and fava (broad beans) began to be used for fodder.

Common green beans are originally from the jungles of South America. It is said that the shaman knew how to communicate with the flora and knew which beans were poisonous and how to prepare them for food or medicine. For instance, red kidney and butter beans are poisonous raw and must be cooked well.

Beans have some known medicinal qualities. They regulate the large intestine. They contain plenty of fiber so are good for regulating blood sugar levels and lowering LDL cholesterol. They contain cancer inhibiting protease also.

How to Make Beans More Digestible

Beans contain large amounts of carbohydrates that cannot be digested by humans and converted into usable sugars; we don’t have the enzymes to break them down. So here are some suggestions to take the gaseousness out of your beans.

  • Soak dry beans overnight in baking soda water, then rinse before cooking.
  • Cook with vinegar ( a few tablespoons per pot)
  • My favorite method is adding the traditional Mexican herb epazote when cooking. I love the flavor and this helps because I am on a low sodium diet. If you can’t find epazote, here is a link to epazote. I easily go through this amount in less than a year, but it can be kept in an airtight container in your pantry.  You can also make tea out of this epazote for tummy troubles.



Chilaquiles is a traditional southern Mexican dish with tortilla chips and refried beans. When tortillas are beginning to go a little stale and the household needs to use up what food they have, chilaquiles is the Mexican cook’s go to dish.

There are numerous ways to eat chilaquiles. The tortillas and beans can be topped with fried eggs, cheese, salsa, avocado, guacamole, onions, tomatoes, shredded meat . . . the variations are endless.

I made chilaquiles for my daughter’s birthday and topped mine with cheese, fresh salsa and a guacamole made with tomatillos. We also had pork chops that were made in the pressure cooker with pineapple, garlic and onion. Yum!

Refried Beans

  1. I soaked black beans overnight and drained them.
  2. Then they were cooked with epazote and Cuban oregano.
  3. Then they were pureed in the pot.
  4. After than I put some olive oil in a skillet, added a little water to the beans and a TB of minced garlic, and fried them. Super easy.

No Sodium Tortilla Chips   


  1. Spray a pizza pan or cookie sheet with canola oil.
  2. Cut small tortillas into quarters.
  3. Place quatered tortillas on pizza pan or cookie sheet.
  4. Spray with canola oil.
  5. Cook at 400F until golden.
  6. These are good with lime powder (made from dried limes [another blog]).

The Arrangement

Lay tortillas on plate and top with refried beans.  The tortillas can also be cooked in the skillet with the beans.  Then simply add whatever else you would like on top. Sort of like nachos. Enjoy.

Here is a good video on making chilaquiles.  This is a bit more involved than my chilaquiles – just another variation.  This young woman is quite a cook.

How to Make Chilaquiles | Fast Easy Cooking in Mexico

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6 thoughts on “Beans and Chilaquiles”

  1. Amber Shock says:

    YUM! Thanks for the great ideas. I am very interested in epizote, I’ve never heard of this herb. I also didn’t know about soaking beans in baking soda water or why we even soak beans in the first place – that’s so interesting. The birthday chilaquiles sound amazing!!

  2. George says:

    I haven’t been aware that beans do have so many healthy components! 🙂
    We do eat beans – but very seldom to be honest. The recipe seems very nice, thank you for that.
    I will try to convince my wife to give it a try! 🙂

    Thanks again and all the best,

  3. Joo says:

    Hi Suzanne, thank you for this very interesting article. I never knew about this unique relationship between beans, squash and corn, nature is so amazing. I have also learnt much from what you wrote about soaking of beans overnight. I have a question, though. When you say add vinegar after cooking, may I know what is the reason? And also, does it mean that we eat the beans together with the vinegar?
    I’m definitely going to start soaking my beans overnight in baking soda water. I used to just soak them in plain water for a few hours.
    Thanks again for this great one!

    1. Cook with vinegar. My late mother-in-law who was from Kentucky did this. The reason is that it makes the beans more digestible so there are no tummy issues.

  4. Virendra says:

    Wow, this is an amazing article and I’m definitely gonna try it out! As a vegetarian I have to get my proteins from beans, but besides that I also have IBS and can’t process beans at all, I’m gonna give this a try, the baking soda and the cooking in vinegar to see if it gives some release in my intestines. Thanks!

    1. The epazote works for me and my tummy problems.

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