Paleo Healthy Lemon Bars (Gluten Free, Low FODMAP)
These gluten free lemon bars are made with an easy almond flour crust, topped with a homemade zesty lemon curd sweetened with just maple syrup. Not too sweet allowing the lemon to shine through. If you are a fan of lemon, you will love these delicious paleo lemon bars made with no refined sugar!
WHY YOU'LL LOVE THESE PALEO LEMON BARS
1. These paleo lemon bars are bursting with lemon flavor. They're made with 2/3 cup of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and sweetened with just maple syrup. The lemon shines through and they aren't full of sugar!
2. The lemon filling in the bars is made first on the stove before baking. This may seem like an extra step, but it ensures you'll have flavorful bars with no runny filling or soggy crust!
3. These are a healthier version of a classic lemon bar, but all eaters will love them! They are the perfect paleo and gluten free dessert, and low FODMAP friendly for my friends with sensitive digestion.
INGREDIENTS IN HEALTHY LEMON BARS
Fresh lemon juice and zest
Non Dairy Butter
Fine Almond Flour
SUBSTITUTIONS AND SWAPS
1. Only use real fresh squeezed lemon juice! Bottled lemon juice is very acidic and you will not love the flavor. I used Meyer Lemons because they are in season now, they're slightly sweeter and less acidic but any fresh lemon will work!
2. Maple syrup can be replaced with honey, but keep in mind the flavor will change a bit.
3. Non dairy butter is used in the crust and to add a little creaminess to the filling. This can be swapped for real butter or ghee.
4. There are unfortunately no subs for the almond and tapioca flour in this recipe. I tried a few other flour blends and they did not work!
4. A touch of coconut sugar in the crust can be swapped for any other granulated sweetener.
5. I know eggs can be an issue for some, but they are needed in this recipe and cannot be subbed. I do have a vegan lemon curd, but it didn't bake well in these lemon bars!
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY LEMON BARS:
THE FIRST STEP IN MAKING HEALTHY LEMON BARS IS TO MAKE AND BAKE THE CRUST
1. IN A MEDIUM BOWL, MIX TOGETHER ALL CRUST INGREDIENTS UNTIL A DOUGH FORMS, AND PRESS INTO PARCHMENT LINED 8x8" BAKING DISH.
2. BAKE FOR 20 MINUTES UNTIL JUST BROWN
THE SECOND STEP IS TO MAKE THE LEMON FILLING ON THE STOVE
3. IN A MEDIUM METAL OR HEAT-SAFE MIXING BOWL, COMBINE ALL FILLING INGREDIENTS AND WHISK UNTIL COMBINED. PLACE BOWL OVER A SAUCEPAN WITH AN INCH OF WATER, TURNING ON HEAT UNTIL WATER IS BOILING. CAN ALSO USE A DOUBLE BOILER.
4. ONCE BOWL STARTS TO WARM UP, WHISK THE FILLING INGREDIENTS EVERY 1-2 MINUTES UNTIL FILLING STARTS TO THICKEN AND TURN LIGHTER IN COLOR. THIS WILL TAKE 10-12 MINUTES TOTAL. STRAIN THE FILLING MIXTURE THROUGH A FINE MESH STRAINER TO REMOVE ANY COOKED EGG BITS AND ZEST! See below
THE LAST STEP IS TO COMBINE THE FILLING WITH THE CRUST AND FINISH THE BAKING
5. REMOVE CRUST FROM OVEN AND IMMEDIATELY SPREAD THE HOT THICKENED FILLING OVER THE CRUST. RETURN BACK TO OVEN AND BAKE ANOTHER 12-15 MINUTES, UNTIL EDGES ARE SET AND THE CENTER IS JUST SLIGHTLY JIGGLY.
6. LET COOL AND ROOM TEMP AND PLACE IN FRIDGE TO CHILL COMPLETELY BEFORE CUTTING AND SERVING!
TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT PALEO LEMON BARS:
Use real fresh lemon juice, not bottled!
STRAIN the lemon filling mixture through a fine mesh strainer after fully cooked, and be sure to scrape the bottom of the strainer to get all that good filling!
Pre-bake the crust for 20 minutes before adding the filling.
Make sure the filling is fully set while baking or the bars will be very soft and hard to cut and hold. The filling is ready when it turns a darker yellow, about 15 minutes in the oven.
Be sure the bars are completely cold before cutting into them! Use a knife dipped in hot water and dried off to cut through for the most even cuts.
Can I replace the eggs to make lemon bars vegan?
Unfortunately in this recipe, eggs are crucial for the texture of these bars, otherwise they would just fall apart. So eggs cannot be replaced. I have plenty of other vegan recipes up on the blog, just search 'vegan' in the search bar!
How do I know my filling is cooked on the stove and ready to be added to the crust?
You can use a candy thermometer, the filling will be ready when it reaches 170 F degrees. Otherwise, once it warms up in the double boiler, it takes about 10-12 minutes to be ready with constant stirring. It is done when it turns lighter in color and thickens up like custard.
The bars have been fully cooked and cooled and the filling is still soft!
This happens when the bars are not cooked long enough. I tend to cook at 15 minutes after the filling has been added to the crust, the filling will turn a darker yellow. You can let the bars come back to room temperature and pop back in them in a preheated oven for another 5-10 minutes. Check on them at 5 to see if the filling is firming up.
You can also avoid this by making the lemon filling in advance, and putting it in the fridge until ready to make the crust and assemble. It will be good for 5 days. Gently reheat the filling on the stove when ready to use, then assemble and bake as directed. This method has ensured nice solid filling every time!
Are paleo lemon bars also low FODMAP?
Yes! According to Monash University findings, the ingredients in these lemon bars are low FODMAP compliant. If you are sensitive to coconut sugar, it can be replaced with cane sugar or other low FODMAP granulated sweetener. Almond flour is low FODMAP at 1/4 cup, meaning you can eat 1/4 of the whole pan for a low FODMAP serving! Also remember that low FODMAP doesn't mean no FODMAPs!
Any other questions? Ask in the comments below!
If you love lemon, you'll love these other gluten free desserts!