‘Tis the season for cookie swaps and traded treats. Which is why last week’s mini vice detox was that much more of a struggle. And why I have a love hate relationship with these gluten-free blondies, whose recipe I developed while not being able to enjoy more than a nibble for quality control.
Last week kicked off the first BETA group of my new companion course to The Wellness Project book. The curriculum is a version of my year-long odyssey condensed into 4 weeks. A wellness project on herbal steroids, if you will. And mirroring my own journey, the first week focuses around giving your liver a reboot.
Every January, I try to give alcohol a rest for a month. I don’t drink much coffee anymore thanks to the original vice detox of 2015. But I have yet to revisit the added sugar prong in as much depth and commitment as I did back in the day.
Usually I keep myself from falling too far off the sweets wagon, i.e. doing something egregious like making a tray of pumpkin white bean blondies and eating the whole thing myself. But birthday month is always a hard one for me. What started with an occasional salted peanut butter cookie from our local market, turned into a bi-weekly affair. And then I justified my sweet tooth even further by selflessly electing to do a post for you on the best gluten-free baked goods in New York. It’s a tough job…
Needless to say, I was grateful for the new accountability group to rein in my own added sugar consumption.
While during this on-going binge, my chin acne doth protest too much, by the end of the week of no added sugar, it had calmed and almost completely erased itself from my face. It was an important reminder that this simple change (even if it doesn’t seem simple in the moment) really does work.
The group was a little wary of my selfie mandate, but it meant that by the end of the week (day 5) they were able to post side by side before and after photos of their face’s problem areas. I couldn’t have been prouder or more humbled by the results. Charlie was looking over my shoulder at them yesterday and echoed what I kept saying out loud: this is CRAZY!
I’ve gotten so many notes from you on ways the book has helped improve your health, but it was very different to see it with my own eyes, from just 5 days of work.
My proudest personal moment, though, was resisting these pumpkin blondies. I’m heading up to Martha’s Vineyard this week for a quite few days away to write, so I had a lot of recipe testing on my plate last, including these delicious bars for you gluten-free folks who are indulging in the cookie swap game.
They are adapted from Pamela Salzman’s book Kitchen Matters, which I celebrated earlier this year alongside my own. At our joint party, she made her tahini white bean blondies, and at the end of the night (having not eaten a real meal) I inhaled half of the tray. Sugar wagon off the rails.
If you’ve heard of the black bean brownie craze, this is their blonde sister. You hardly notice the beans in there, but they add an incredibly creamy texture to the bars without having to use many types of gluten-free flours for structure. And it also adds even more fiber to slow down the absorption of what little sugar is used.
I chose coconut sugar for sweetness since it’s lower on the glycemic index yet has that caramel quality to sub for the usual brown sugar in blondie recipes. My big addition though was even more nutrients in the form of pumpkin puree!
If you’re looking for a sweet treat that won’t send your blood sugar into a tizzy and will make everyone (GF and regular folks alike) want to trade their treats for yours, I hope you’ll give these gluten-free pumpkin blondies a try.
p.s. have you ever given up all added sugar for a period of time? I’d love to hear about your experience!
Pumpkin-White Bean Blondies
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted (plus more for the pan)
- One 15-ounce can white beans rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar muscovado sugar or light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square pan with coconut oil and line with unbleached parchment paper.
In a food processor, combine the coconut oil, white beans, pumpkin, tahini, eggs, sugar, vanilla, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt. Process until smooth.
Stir half the chocolate chips into the batter and pour it into the prepared pan.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the walnuts and remaining chocolate. Spread evenly on top of the blondies and press lightly into the batter.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool before cutting. Leftovers keep in the fridge for up to a week.