Removing dairy from my diet has completely impacted how I bake. I still miss it – not how sick it made me – but I miss the creaminess, the simplicity, the ease with which I could pull cream cheese, Greek yogurt, or sour cream out of the refrigerator and whip up a lovely dessert.
But, there are have been some unexpected, and quite tasty, surprises along the way. These Raw Lemon Cheesecake Bars are certainly one of them. They’re melt-in-your-mouth uber-creamy and just sweet enough with a nice, tart tang.
If you’ve been around SS&GF for a while, you know I was a a chunky kid. I continually struggled with my weight through my late twenties when I finally figured out that I couldn’t eat wheat or sugar and switched to a gluten-free, refined sugar-free, whole foods diet.
I was raised in the era of ‘fat-free foods’ and ‘spray butter.’ If you wanted to lose weight, you switched to fat-free Twinkies. And, of course, butter was the enemy so instead we sprayed our bread with some bizarre, and probably toxic, yellow liquid that tasted like butter. It seemed normal back then. Now, I have to laugh at the audacity of it all.
There were other ‘fat-causing ideas’ I’ve had to battle along the way. One quite insidious idea that’s come up in recent years is that nuts will make you fat. I’m not at all advocating for a nut-heavy diet. Yes, they’ve got incredible health benefits, including unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, L-argentine, and plant sterols. They’re also calorie and fat dense. With all things, my experience has shown me that moderation is key.
I eat nuts daily. They’re a nutritious, portable gluten-free snack. But I eat them in moderation and with other foods, like fruits and veggies.
I’ve been wanting to make a cheesecake-type dish since going dairy-free. A couple of weeks ago Lauren shared her Thick Raw Lemon Bars on Slightly Indulgent Tuesday. They struck something inside of me, and I began conjuring up recipes in my head. This is the incredible result.
Joe loves cheesecake, probably as much as he loves ice cream. So when he told me that these bars taste just like cheesecake I knew I’d done something right. There’s not a single bite of cheese or dairy in these bars.
With Memorial Day around the corner, I thought this would be a refreshing end to your cookouts. Make sure to serve these chilled – they get very soft when at room temperature.
What are some of the ways your thinking has changed since you switched to a whole foods diet?
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 3 large medjool dates, pitted
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3/4 teaspoon ginger root powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked
- 1/4 cup dairy-free milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk.)
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons coconut butter
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest from one lemon
- pinch of salt
- Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Put the pecans and walnuts in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse several times to break up the nuts. Add the medjool dates, coconut oil, ground ginger root, and pinch of salt. Process until the mixture begins to come together as a dough.
- Press the nut mixture evenly into the bottom of the lined pan. Set aside.
- Put the cashews, dairy-free milk, lemon juice, coconut butter, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and pinch of salt into a high-powered blender. Start on low, gradually increase to high and process until completely smooth.
- Scrape the mixture on top of the crust and smooth the top. Cover and place in the freezer for 4 - 6 hours, or overnight.
- Let sit at room temperature for 15 - 20 minutes before cutting and serving.
Don't let this dessert sit at room temperature for too long or it will get very soft. It's best when served chilled.
From my sponsor: Plan To Eat was born from our desire to eat real food – great food – prepared at home, together as a family. Plan To Eat is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them, automatically generating your grocery list, organized the way you like to shop. Eat well. Eat together. PlanToEat.com.