Since I am a super busy mom like many of you, I don’t have time to do much baking–but I do love to treat my family to healthier versions of baked goods when I can. These Grain Free Cookies, Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, and Egg free Macaroons are some of our favorites. Lemon Bars are another treat that I loved when I was younger, so I was thrilled to be able to develop a healthier version for us to enjoy.
I pulled this recipe together in the summertime, which isn’t the best time to bake, of course, but two weeks ago, the temperature “dipped” down into the 70’s and so I grabbed the opportunity to do some quick baking (I made my simple Oat Bran Muffins) and try out a new recipe. And boy did we get a winner! Luscious Lemony Goodness!
The inspiration for these bars are the Lemon Coconut Bars on Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. I showed them to my son and well, both of us were inspired to give them a whirl! In fact, he jumped up and down with the sweetest smile on his face, so I just had to bake them.
The only problem was, my oldest has a life-threatening allergy to eggs, so I just had to create two versions and then bake several batches with eggs and several without so that my oldest wouldn’t be left without a special treat :-).
Well, even with all of those batches, these taste soooo good, that they were gone in a flash!
Luscious Lemon Bars (gluten & dairy-free with egg-free & sugar-free option)
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used a blend of sweet rice, millet and a tad of buckwheat, since that’s what I had on hand :-))*
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked and dehydrated, if possible**
1/2 teaspoon gelatin ( I recommend Great Lakes)
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup healthy sweetener of choice (I used xylitol and erythritol since we are on anti-candida diets and I have trouble tolerating stevia sometimes)
4 scoops pure stevia extract powder*** You could also sub about another 1/4 – 1/2 cup sweetener to taste.
4 eggs or egg substitute (I used this Powdered Egg Replacer for the egg-free version)
1/2 cup sweetener of choice. (If using granulated, add 2 Tbsp water as well)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla liquid stevia, or use about 1/4 cup other healthy sweetener of choice and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch/flour (can sub cornstarch)
1 teaspoon lemon zest (please use organic only- -I grate mine with my super microplane grater)
1/2 cup lemon juice (I use organic and recommend Dream Foods International.)****
1/4 cup milk or dairy-free substitute (I used my homemade coconut milk)
1/2 cup (or more) shredded unsweetened coconut (optional. You could also just dust the top with some powdered sweetener. Read here how to Make Your Own Powdered Sweeter / Sugar Substitute!)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan (I use coconut oil to do this.) You can also use 2 8×8’s with not much difference in the end result.
2. Place the flour, sunflower seeds, and gelatin in the bowl of a food processor and process until the seeds are finely chopped.
3. Add the coconut oil and sweetener and pulse until the mixture is crumbly meal, similar to a pie crust. Be careful not to over-process.
4. Press the mixture into the prepared baking pan(s).
5. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until crust is lightly browned.
6. While the crust is baking, start preparing the filling.
7. Put the eggs (or egg substitute) in the food processor and pulse until the yolks are broken. Add sweeteners, arrowroot (or cornstarch) lemon zest and juice, and milk. Pulse several times until combined.
8. When the crust is finished, pour the lemon mixture over the crust (no need to wait for it to cool).
9. Sprinkle shredded coconut or sweetener evenly over the top of the bars.
10. Bake 15–20 minutes, until the filling is set. Cool completely. Cut and serve. Store in the refrigerator (especially the ones with eggs in them :-))
Notes: The egg-free version doesn’t look nearly as pretty and the filling pretty much soaked into the crust, but they were still quite tasty. <p>Once it gets cooler, I will take another run at these bars with a different type of filling to see what can be done about making the egg-free version better :-).
*I try not to be a gluten-free flour purist. I do, however, like using sweet brown rice since it adds a bit of “hold togetherness”. Too much buckwheat doesn’t taste great, though, so be careful if you choose to bake with this! Use almond flour for a low carb option.
**I think any nut or seed would work. Let me know if you try others! I’ll try to let you know if I do too!
***Stevia extract comes with a small 1/32nd tsp scoop.
****I LOVE Dream Foods International’s lemon juice and that is what I linked to. Buy the huge bottle at most Costco stores for a great deal!
Other “Healthier” Desserts
Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!