Monday, March 4, 2013


Best Blog Tips
Fat-Free Vegan Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies made with bean puree

My latest obsession is baking and making creamy salad dressings with beans.  Dreena Burton unknowingly  instigated all this, I'm afraid.  I made her wonderful Hummus Salad Dressing and that got me thinking about using pureed white beans to make creamy vegan salad dressings.  A delicious bean-based Caesar Salad Dressing resulted (recipe below) and I'm working on a few more. That led me to some information (mostly from folks who are into food storage) on using puree beans instead of fat in baking (sometimes for all of the fat, sometimes for some of it).  I have held back from intensive experimenting with this because, for reasons of vanity, I don't want to eat too many baked goods, fat-free or not! But I have lots of ideas.  In the meantime, I tried two cookie recipes.  I was not entirely satisfied with the chocolate chip cookies I experimented with (2 versions), so I have put them on the back burner for now, along with using bean puree in muffins.  But I was happy with the oatmeal raisin cookies I tested (and so was DH!), so I'm including the recipe in this post.

Next I tried using a white bean puree in a no-knead pizza dough. This idea has intrigued me for some time and I'm so glad it worked so well (and in a no-knead dough at that!). It's a great way to add healthy protein and bean fiber to a kid-friendly meal.  I looked up the nutrition facts for a Boboli thin-crust for pizza of the same size as mine. 1/2 a Boboli thin crust contains: 70 more calories than mine; 7.5 g fat compared to the 1.2 g in mine; 330 mg more sodium than my crust; about the same amount of protein; and a little over 1 g of fiber compared to 7 g in mine. Not bad!

I use plenty of beans in my day-to-day cooking, but I think using them in more unusual ways would be helpful for many people.  It might be easier to get kids (and older folks with waning appetites) to eat beans in a salad, creamy soup, dip, pizza, muffin or cookie, for instance.  Everyone could reap the benefits of beans, even while claiming to dislike them.

What are these bean benefits?  They are easy to store, easy on the purse, and versatile in the kitchen.  They are filling and low in fat, and according to this study: "Adding beans and other legumes to the diet appears to help people with type 2 diabetes improve their blood sugar control and lower their risk of heart disease, according to new research. Two diets were tested in 121 men and women with type 2 diabetes. Both diets were healthy, but one added legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans. "People with diabetes did better in terms of blood sugar control on the bean diet versus a diet without beans, which was otherwise extremely healthy," says researcher David J.A. Jenkins, MD, PhD, DSc, professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. The bean diet lowered the predicted risk of heart disease more, too, Jenkins says. And it did so in a way that surprised him, he says. "It reduced heart disease risk predominantly because of its effect on blood pressure," he says.

Well, back to the pantry to check my bean supplies....


The following three recipes feature white beans, but, depending on the color you are aiming for in your recipes, any other beans can be used.  TIP: You can buy cans of beans, of course, but what I've been doing is cooking big batches of beans and freezing them in 1, 2 or 3 cup containers or zipper-lock bags.  If you use canned beans and you have some left over, freeze the excess and add the leftovers together to make enough for another recipe.

WHAT KIND OF WHITE BEANS?  Check out this article.  

BEAN PUREE:  If you want 1 cup iof bean puree, measure out 1 cup of rinsed and drained cooked or canned beans, packing them down a bit.  Puree with a hand/immersion blender, or in a blender or food processor.  If the mixture is too thick to move on the blades, add a little water (carefully) until it does.  Multiply as needed.

These cookies were made with rolled oats, but I think quick oats make a better cookie-- however those pics didn't come out as well as these ones.

 Makes 32 cookies      

Wet Mix:
1 cup white bean puree (See text above) NOTE: If you don’t mind a little fat, use 3/4 cup beans and 1/4 cup vegan butter.)
1 cup brown sugar      
3/4 cup unbleached granulated organic sugar
1/4 cup brown rice syrup        
your favorite egg replacer for 2 eggs (The nutritional analysis for this recipe was made using 2 tablespoons golden flax seeds blended until “gloppy” with 6 tablespoons water.)
Dry Mix:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour  
1/2 tsp salt      
1/2 tsp baking powder           
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 cups quick oats (If you have only rolled oats, chop them up a bit in a dry food processor)
1 1/2 cup raisins (not packed)
1.) Use dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, chopped dates, or other dried fruit instead of raisins
2.) Add some chopped organic candied ginger.
3.) Add some chopped nuts or seeds— this will add more fat and calories to the recipe.
4.) Use organic fair trade chocolate chips instead of raisins-- this will add more fat and calories to the recipe.
5.) Use or add other spices, such as cinnamon.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line 2 large baking sheets with baking parchment.

Combine the Wet Mix ingredients until smooth with a hand/immersion blender, or a hand-held electric beater in a medium bowl; or blend them in a food processor or blender and pour into a medium bowl.

In a smaller bowl, combine the Dry Mix ingredients well.  Dumb the dry Mix into the Wet Mix and mix briefly.  Add the oats and raisins (or any variations) and stir well.

Using a 2 tablespoon cookie dough scoop, place mounds of the dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving at least 1-inch space between the mounds.

Place each baking sheet on a rack (not too close to the bottom or top of the oven) and bake for 11 minutes.  Switch the sheets from one rack to another and back-to-front.  Bake about 22 minutes, or until the cookies are just a light golden color.  If they get darker, they will be too dry.

Transfer the cookies (still on the parchment) to racks and cool for about 30 minutes before serving.

If you don’t eat the cookies in 2 days, it’s best to freeze them, as fat-free cookies don’t last as long as those with fat added.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
136.8 calories; 5% calories from fat; 0.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 37.7mg sodium; 166.0mg potassium; 31.2g carbohydrates; 2.2g fiber; 18.4g sugar; 29.0g net carbs; 3.0g protein; 2.4 points.

Printable Recipe

 Servings: 4
Yield: two 12-inch pizza crusts
The easiest pizza dough ever, and with the added protein and fiber of beans (but no one will know).  You can make the dough a week ahead, or a day ahead, or the morning of the night you will serve the pizza.  Either way, there is very little effort on your part, except for the actual rolling out and baking.  The slow rising develops the gluten just as kneading would, and develops flavor as well.

1 cup warm water      
1 teaspoon dry baking yeast (or 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast)
1 cup white bean puree (room temperature) (see text above)
1 teaspoon salt           
2 cups unbleached white flour           
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

In a medium bowl, mix the water and yeast.  Let sit for 5 minutes. Add the bean puree and salt and mix well, using a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk.  Stir in the flours just until mixed (it will look messy—no worries!).  Cover and let rise at room temperature for an hour.  Then, stored properly (see below) place in the refrigerator until you are ready to use the dough to make pizza. 

Storing the dough in the refrigerator:  If you have a dough bucket with a lid, or a bowl with a lid, then use that. There should be room for the dough to triple.  Otherwise, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or an unused disposable shower cap (you can buy these cheaply at $$ stores), or place the bowl inside of a large food-safe plastic bag and secure.

You can make the dough a week ahead, or a day ahead, or the morning of the night you will serve the pizza. If you make it the morning of the day you will make the pizza, make it early in the morning, so that it has at least 10 hours in the refrigerator. 

There is no need to bring the dough to room temperature before baking.  Divide it in 2 pieces and roll out as usual (see this post for ideas for shaping and baking pizza); top as desired, and bake at 500 to 550ºF for about 8 minutes.  Use a pizza stone, if you have one, (heated for about 45 minutes in the oven), or a cast iron skillet (see about making pizza in cast iron at this post)or heavy baking sheets or pizza pans (these can also be heated in the oven for about 30 minutes before placing the pizza on the pans for baking—this makes a great crust).  You can transfer the pizza to the hot pan or stone using baking parchment— just pull the pizza off of an upside-down pizza pan or baking sheet, or a baking sheet without sides.   The parchment goes into the pan along with the pizza. 

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/2 a 12-inch crust, topping NOT included): 349.4 calories; 2% calories from fat; 1.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 477.4mg sodium; 438.7mg potassium; 71.0g carbohydrates; 7.0g fiber; 0.4g sugar; 64.0g net carbs; 14.0g protein; 6.3 points.

I had to photograph the Caesar Dressing on a regular salad because I didn't have any Romaine lettuce at the time-- but it was still delicious.
Servings: 5 (1/4 cup servings)
Yield: 1 1/4 cups

2/3 cup rinsed and drained cooked or canned white beans, packed 
1/4 cup water 
1/4 cup fresh or bottled organic lemon juice  
2 tablespoons light soy miso or chickpea miso       
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar          
1 tsp Dijon mustard   
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper  
2 dashes Louisiana hot sauce 
OPTIONAL: 1/4 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (
                      1/4 cup of your favorite vegan parmesan-- I use Galaxy Vegan (now called GoVeggie!). (If you prefer, you can sprinkle vegan parmesan on the salad after dressing it.)

Blend all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Store the dressing in a covered jar or bottle in the refrigerator.

  Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/4 cup): 53.0 calories; 8% calories from fat; 0.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 459.6mg sodium; 173.3mg potassium; 9.5g carbohydrates; 2.0g fiber; 0.8g sugar; 7.5g net carbs; 3.3g protein; 0.7 points


eValerie said...

Have you run across Chocolate Covered Katie's blog? She creates healthy vegan desserts. She does a lot with bean purees, so I thought you might be interested. Here's a link to her healthy vegan cookie dough, meant to be eaten, not baked:

There's also a version of it with no refined sugar:

Or her white bean blondies:

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are exploring the substitution of beans for fat. Keep this going!

erin said...

Valerie, I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing. That dip is pretty good too.

in2insight said...

I made the pizza dough last night, and it is a winner!
Will now be my go to recipe when making pizza.
Thank you for the idea and for sharing it!