Vermont Baked Beans From 'Lighten Up, America!'

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.

Reprinted with permission from Lighten Up, America! Favorite American Foods Made Guilt-Free by Allison Fishman Task. Copyright 2013. Published by Oxmoor House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

  • Yield:Serves 10
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:10 hours and 45 minutes


  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 4 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups water, divided


  1. 1.

    Sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let stand 8 hours. Drain beans. Wipe pan dry with a paper towel.

  2. 2.

    Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium-high heat 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion; reduce heat to medium, and cook 4 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally.

  3. 3.

    Combine brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl; stir well. Add 1 cup water; stir until well blended.

  4. 4.

    Add beans to pan, stirring to coat. Stir in brown sugar mixture. Add 5 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. 5.

    Preheat oven to 300°. Bake beans for 2 hours or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally.

  6. 6.

    Per 3/4 cup serving: CALORIES 203; FAT 1.5g (sat 0.4g, mono 0.3g, poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 9.7g; CARB 38.8g; FIBER 11.1g; CHOL 2mg; IRON 2.6mg; SODIUM 230mg; CALC 89mg