Beans are low in fat and an excellent source of vegetable protein as well as iron, magnesium and zinc. They are also rich in folic acid, non-lactic calcium, and soluble dietary fiber.
 
And along with all of their health benefits, one of the great green unsung beauties of beans is that they can be easily bought in bulk from food stores, making them an accessible organic purchase. According to the Bulk is Green Council, organic beans bought in bulk cost on average 12 percent less than their organic packaged cousins. Best of all, bulk foods (in general) prevent a significant amount of packaging from entering landfills. Go, beans!
 
So in honor of the mighty bean, here's one of my favorite odd recipes. I'm a fool for recipes that swap typically empty calories for ones which have some nutritional integrity — feeling good about eating something delicious instantly multiplies the pleasure factor. I also have exceedingly strong feelings for baked goods. Putting the two together often means employing mystery ingredients, like beets in chocolate cakeavocado in cupcakes, and fruit purees as sweeteners. Or beans in cookies and bars, as the case may be. It may sound counterintuitive — or even outright unsavory to some — but the moisture and structure they provide is some kind of bewitching kitchen alchemy. And no lingering beany flavor remains, just a delicious, healthier confection.

 

Prep time: 10 minutes  

Total time: 50 minutes  

Yield: Makes 3 dozen, 2-inch blondies

 
White Bean Blondies

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked, pureed white beans
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup oat bran
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or white whole-wheat flour)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, optional
 

Cooking directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease the bottom (but not sides) of a 9- by 13-inch baking pan.
  3. Over medium low heat, melt the butter and Sucanat in a saucepan. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in the beans, vanilla, maple syrup, eggs and salt.
  4. Add the oat bran and flour and stir until just mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips, if using, then pour the entire mixture into the prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake for 30 to 33 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in pan before cutting.

 

This story was originally written for Treehugger. Copyright 2012.