Aunt Hilda’s Bean Salad

Many years ago as we were on our way to visit Jerri’s mother and brothers in Kansas and Oklahoma, we accepted an invitation to stay the night at Uncle Clarence and Aunt Hilda’s home in Newton, Kansas. We telephoned them when we were a couple of hours away to confirm that as planned we had already eaten dinner and were looking forward to seeing them.

Before we left Wisconsin Jerri had told her aunt that we did not expect her to cook anything for us since we knew that otherwise she would be busy in the kitchen getting ready for her starving niece and family.  We knew that she loved to cook!

We arrived and Jerri began catching up on family news while Clarence and I first checked fluid levels in the car then sat down in the living room to discuss the price of gasoline and other current affairs. After an hour or so, Aunt Hilda disappeared into the kitchen. Soon we were all sitting around the big kitchen table looking at Aunt Hilda’s idea of a bedtime snack.

Besides ham, chicken, roast beef, pork and assorted cold cuts, there were carrot and celery sticks, two or three different kinds of bread, cheese, salads, pickles, relishes and of course desserts, coffee, iced tea and lemonade. I was reminded of the Franklin in the Canterbury Tales whose table, Chaucer says, “snowed with meat and drink.” Our son was awed.

One of the salads was a tasty variation on a three bean salad with chopped peppers and onion. When I told Aunt Hilda that I really liked it, she just handed me the bowl with “I’m glad you like it. Have some more.” Like me, Aunt Hilda is a “pusher” when it comes to food.

Once she knew I liked it, Aunt Hilda made a point of having that salad whenever we stopped to visit. When I asked for the recipe she told me that the salad was made with a liquid sweetener rather than sugar. I would never have guessed it. She explained that since Uncle Clarence had diabetes, she made a point of finding dishes that he liked which did not spike his blood sugar levels. This salad is one of them.

Actually, she got the recipe from the wife of her cousin Ken Kaufman, Meribeth, who wrote a little cookbook, “Sweeten Without Sugar”, with recipes for people with diabetes. With a photocopy of the book Hilda wrote a note explaining that Meribeth was diagnosed with diabetes when when she was three or four years old but that “She baked hundreds of wedding cakes, even 50th and 60th anniversary ones.”

I could not find the liquid sweetener that the original recipe called for, but with Jerri’s help we determined the right amount of Stevia to Go which does the job. I’m not sure that our bean salad tastes quite as good as Hilda’s, but it’s close and delicious. Even if you do not suffer from diabetes you might want to try this. It tastes good with fewer calories!


1 15 oz. can cut green beans
1 15 oz. can cut yellow wax beans
1 15 oz. can dark red kidney beans
1 small onion (2 -2 1/2 inch diameter)
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 – 1 tsp. liquid sweetener (Stevia to Go)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


Drain the green and wax beans and drain and rinse the kidney beans thoroughly before putting them into a large bowl. Peel and chop the onion medium fine. Wash and chop the peppers to about a quarter inch dice. Add the vegetables to the beans along with the oil, vinegar salt and pepper and stir well.

Add about 3/4 teaspoon Stevia to Go sweetener. Stir and let the salad stand for about five minutes. Taste and add more sweetener if needed. Mix the salad well and chill it overnight in the refrigerator. This recipe makes about 14 half cup servings. Meribeth’s cookbook says a serving has about 90 calories.

NOTES: Be very careful not to add too much Stevia to Go to the salad. This salad tastes much better after it rests a full day in the refrigerator.

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