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 Vegan 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!
Gluten-free Paleo Lemon Bars
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 batches of Vegan Lemon Bars 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!
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Here are the Vegan Lemon Bars. Still yummy but just not as yellow.
The Vegan Lemon Bars don't look nearly as pretty and the filling pretty much soaked into the crust, but they were still quite tasty.
Also, if you use a gelatin egg, you might end up needing to blend the filling in a high powered blender to get it to be pourable.
I try not to be a gluten-free flour purist–meaning that I don't typically spend much time trying to get the “perfect” gluten-free flour blend. 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! See my Gluten-free Baking Tips for more on that. Use almond flour for a low carb option.
Any nut or seed would work for the crust's low carb option.
Stevia extract comes with a small 1/32nd tsp scoop. This post has helpful tips for how to use stevia.
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.
Lemon Bars are a light dessert. This version is gluten-free and sugar-free with an egg-free option so you can indulge without the guilt!
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (read my Gluten-Free Baking Tips to see what flours I use. Use almond flour for grain-free, tiger nut flour for AIP)
- 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 (use xylitol or erythritol for low-carb, coconut sugar for AIP)
- 4 scoops pure stevia extract powder (read this post on how to use it)*** You could also sub about another 1/4 - 1/2 cup sweetener to taste.
- 4 eggs or egg substitute (use Powdered Egg Replacer or gelatin egg for an egg-free version that is low carb)
- 1/2 cup sweetener of choice (if using granulated, add 2 tbsp water)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla liquid stevia, or use about 1/4 cup other healthy sweetener of choice and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (here's how to make Homemade Liquid Stevia)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch/flour (can sub cornstarch as well. Omit for low-carb or THM)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (please use organic only -- I grate mine with this super microplane grater)
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (I use organic and recommend Dream Foods International)****
- 1/4 cup milk or dairy-free substitute (here's my Easiest 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 Sweetener / Sugar Substitute!
- 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 8x8's with not much difference in the end result.
- Place the flour, sunflower seeds, and gelatin in the bowl of a food processor and process until the seeds are finely chopped.
- 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.
- Press the mixture into the prepared baking pan(s).
- Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until crust is lightly browned.
- While the crust is baking, start preparing the filling.
- 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.
- When the crust is finished, pour the lemon mixture over the crust (no need to wait for it to cool).
- Sprinkle shredded coconut or sweetener evenly over the top of the bars.
- 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 :-))
For a vegan filling, substitute in agar powder for the gelatin powder.
Other “Healthier” Desserts
Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!