With the arrival of new blossoms and fresh leaves filling out the trees, it is a time to enjoy the warmth and sunshine. There’s no better way to celebrate than with our mouthwatering, creamy, lemony, sweet, tangy, nutritious and delicious lemon bars recipe! We have created a lighter, healthier version of traditional lemon bars without sacrificing flavor and staying true to the sweet, lemony taste and velvety, airy texture. Refined sugar is replaced by nutrient-dense dates and a little maple syrup. Silken tofu is used instead of eggs and dairy, but fear not—the tofu is masked by other flavors and you won’t taste it at all! The filling is perfectly paired with a surprisingly easy, no-bake, gluten-free nutty and crunchy oat crust. Our lemon bars are a nutritious tasty treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth as well as feed your body with good-for-you ingredients. A little slice of sunshine never tasted so good.
- ¾ cup roasted almonds or walnuts (can be replaced with sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds)
- ¾ cup oats
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil, melted
- 5 pitted soaked dates* or 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 10 ounces silken tofu
- 2 tablespoon lemon zest, about 2 lemons
- 1 cup lemon juice, about 7-8 lemons
- ½ cup maple syrup or honey or coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2-3 tablespoons tapioca or cornstarch (depending on how thick you want the filling)
- Pinch of turmeric for color
- 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil, at room temperature
- Put all crust ingredients in the food processor and pulse for 15-30 seconds until dough forms large clumps and is sticking together. If you find it is not fully sticking together, add one more date or 1 teaspoon of maple syrup or honey.
- Press into the bottom of an 8-inch square pan lined with parchment paper, or that has been coated with a little bit of oil, enough to cover the bottom and sides. Put in freezer.
- Place all filling ingredients, except the butter or coconut oil, in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until extremely smooth. No lumps!
- Pour the mixture into a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir frequently with a whisk and when mixture begins to bubble, stir constantly and cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter or coconut oil. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally so it does not set up.
- Remove crust from freezer and pour filling into crust. Smooth the top with a spatula. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or freeze for 1 hour.
*Pour boiling water over dates and let them soak for 10 minutes, then remove from water and use in recipe.
Almonds: Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Can lower total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Almonds are great for maintaining cardiovascular health, and gut health by supporting the good bacteria in the gut.
Oats: Full of soluble fiber (beta-glucan), which has been shown to slow digestion, increase satiety, and bind to cholesterol that helps excrete it out of the body. Oats also have plant chemicals that act as antioxidants to reduce damaging effects of chronic inflammation.
Coconut Oil: The fat from coconut can allow our body to better absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). It can increase the “good” cholesterol levels (HDL). The fat in coconut is 90% MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), which has shown to have a positive effect on metabolism and inflammation. MCTs have also shown to increase satiety leading us to feel more satisfied after consumption.
Dates: A healthier substitute for refined sugar, dates contain minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc for bone health and support a healthy nervous system. They are very high in fiber that will assist in blood sugar control and aid in a healthy digestion. Very potent with antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acid to help reduce inflammation, promote heart health and reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s diseases and provide anticancer effects.
Tofu: One of the few plant-based protein options that is considered a complete protein (contains sufficient amounts of all essential amino acids). Tofu has anti-inflammatory compounds and beneficial isoflavones that have been linked to protecting our heart, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the risk of breast, digestive system and prostate cancers.
Citrus juice and zest: Full of collagen-building properties to support skin elasticity and aid in stronger bones, joints and ligaments. Packed full of a multitude of nutrients such as vitamin C, flavonoids, and fiber which aid in vascular protection, reduce inflammation, improve gastrointestinal function and health, and play an important role in preventing diabetes, cancer, and neurological disease. The vitamin C in the lemon juice will aid in the intestinal absorption of the iron.
Maple Syrup: A sweetener that is a source of essential minerals for bone health, metabolism and brain functioning. with more nutrient value than regular table sugar. It raises blood sugar slower than regular sugar. Also contains polyphenols to reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system. The darker the maple syrup the more antioxidants it has. Note: Be sure to carefully read the food label when shopping for maple syrup. Many stores sell “maple-flavored syrups”, which are higher in refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup.
Turmeric: Along with being one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory substances, it can also boost cognition. Turmeric has been linked to improving brain function and lowering the risk of brain diseases. It is also serves an anti-stressor by increasing secretion of dopamine and serotonin.