Vermont Baked Beans From 'Lighten Up, America!'


[Photograph: Hélène Dujardin]

Beans are often a good choice when you're looking to lighten up your diet for the New Year. However, traditional Boston baked beans, loaded down with bacon, molasses, and salt pork, aren't a terribly wholesome choice. To give the dish a healthier twist, Allison Fishman Task gleans inspiration from Vermont. This recipe, from her new cookbook, Lighten Up, America!, includes just a bit of bacon for smoky pork flavor, and swaps out the molasses for the lighter flavor of maple syrup.

Why I picked this recipe: Baked beans are often a thick, rich dish; I wanted to see what a healthier transformation would taste like.

What worked: I appreciated the simplicity of these baked beans; each element shone through in the final dish.

What didn't: As written, the beans were a bit too sweet for my taste. Next time, I'll reduce both the maple syrup and brown sugar to 2 tablespoons.

Suggested tweaks: You could use another type of bean, like Great Northern, here if you'd like.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Lighten Up, America! to give away this week.