High Protein Meals – A Pinto Bean Recipe for Kids

Variety is so important for helping to ensure that your family is getting all of the nutrients available through foods. And it is extremely difficult to get some kids to eat more than a couple of different foods.

When Nathan was younger, he would eat cooked beans. However, as he's gotten older, it's been nearly impossible to get him to eat any kind of beans, even the Bush's Baked Beans he used to like. Regardless, I decided to have my husband cook some pintos in the Instant Pot for dinner this week.

Traditionally, I have put onion, salt, and white pepper in my beans for spice, based on my mom's recipe. I usually put olive oil in my pintos as well.

To be honest, when I decided to have pinto beans for dinner, I did not expect my son to eat them.

My husband is a garlic lover, and a hard core meat eater. So when he made the pintos on Monday, he added (a ton) of garlic and two slices of bacon. After tasting them, I'm thinking, “Nathan loves garlic, I should have him try these.”

This is especially important to me because I'm always searching for different high protein meals that are also inexpensive, and rich in other nutrients and fiber.

The results of my little experiment are that Nathan has eaten them for the last two nights without complaining. He won't actually admit he likes them, but eating them without having to be coaxed is all the evidence I need. So, if your child likes garlic, and you've had a hard time getting him or her to eat beans, I have an easy recipe for you!

And the good news is that 2 slices of bacon adds hardly any fat to the overall recipe. In fact, without cheese, 1 1/2 cup serving is only 127 calories! With cheese, 227 calories.

The first night, I gave Nathan a small serving of beans with cheese. The second night I got even more creative.

We had leftover breast meat chicken from the rotisserie chicken we got at Costco last week. I suggested that my husband make his awesome chicken and tomatoes (which Nathan has also eaten in the past–he will eat things like this as long as it's not spicy and as long as the tomatoes aren't obvious).

The second night Ron and I had chicken and bean tacos and Nathan had a chicken and cheese burrito with pintos on the side. (In the next post, I will add the recipe for chicken and cheese tacos).

It is so exciting to me when I can get my son to eat a greater variety of foods besides just mac and cheese!


See, “Why Protein is Important” for more information on protein.

High Protein Meals
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Pinto Beans with Garlic

Homemade Pinto Beans with Minced Garlic and Bacon (or Olive Oil)
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword adhd diet, autism diet, beans, easy, frugal, healthy, high protein, kid friendly recipes, pinto, recipes kids love
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Soaking 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings 10 1/2 cup
Calories 127kcal
Author Deborah Hanyon, MPH, RDN, ACE-CHC


  • 2 slices Bacon Center Cut is Leanest
  • 1/2 onion Onion about 1/2 cup
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic We use the jarred garlic; if using fresh, 3-4 cloves, depending on size
  • 1 pound Dried Pinto Beans
  • 8 cups water Just enough to cover the beans


  • Put dry beans in bowl and cover with water. 
    Soak overnight, or about 6 hours. 
    Drain and rinse beans and put into Slow Cooker or Instant Pot. 
    Cover with water, add bacon or olive oil, onion, and garlic. 
    Turn on slow cooker or Instant Pot. 
    If using slow cooker low setting, it usually takes about 6 hours for beans to be tender and ready to eat. If you use the high setting of slow cooker, the beans should be done in 3-4 hours. But it will depend on the crock pot. 
    If you use the Pressure Cooker setting on the Instant Pot, beans should be done in 30-60 minutes. 
    Makes 10 1/2 cup servings


This easy, inexpensive recipe is an excellent source of protein, folate, magnesium, fiber and B vitamins. And my son likes it.
I bet yours will too!
Top with shredded cheese for extra protein, calcium and FLAVOR! 
(1/4 cup shredded cheese = about 100 calories)


Serving: 0g | Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 0g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 0mg | Potassium: 0mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 0g | Vitamin A: 0IU | Vitamin C: 0mg | Calcium: 0mg | Iron: 0mg

Click here for a tasty alternative to the traditional Banquet Salisbury Steak TV dinner.

And for some more Healthy Alternatives for Picky Eaters, click here.


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