My grandma is an amazing cook and baker! Every holiday we would look forward to going over to grandmas house to have all of her incredible homemade food and we were never disappointed. From her homemade rolls and creamy mashed potatoes to her amazing baked apples, lemon bars, and pies we were always blissfully stuffed when it was time to go home. Of course after I found out I had a bunch of food allergies, I knew the holidays would never be the same for me. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time.
So fast forward a couple of years to me starting to get the hang of allergy friendly cooking and baking. Now that I have an arsenal full of proven allergy friendly substitutions, I like to take on the challenge of converting regular recipes into allergy friendly ones. My first attempt at this was with my chocolate chip cookie recipe that you might have already seen on the blog. They turned out wonderfully and I couldn’t wait to convert more.
We had just gotten back from a family get together and my husband just kept going on and on and on about how amazing the lemon bars were that my grandma made. He has a hard time holding back his feelings about delicious food even when he knows I can’t have it. I guess I can’t really blame him because I remember how delicious all of her food is. All his talk about the amazing lemon bars gave me the idea to try and see if I could convert them to an allergy friendly version. So I had my grandma send over the recipe and to my surprise it didn’t seem like it would be a huge challenge to convert it.
With my husbands birthday coming up, I knew I wanted to see if I could figure out a way that the whole family could enjoy these lemon bars so I got to work on some recipe conversions. The first step was the crust. Which is really just a basic shortbread crust. So I used gluten free flour, vegan butter, and some coconut sugar, no problem. The second step was to make the coconut pecan filling and really the only substitutes I made for this step was to use flax eggs instead of regular eggs and coconut sugar instead of brown sugar. I was a little worried about how the flax eggs would substitute in the filling, but they worked like magic!
I also have issues with refined sugar, so I knew I wanted to use a substitute for the lemon glaze topping. I personally like to use “Swerve” brand powdered sugar substitute. I know there are a few different brands, but this one has always worked great for me. If you don’t have issues with refined sugar, then you can just use regular powdered sugar in the topping.
Overall this recipe wasn’t super challenging to convert and the results were delicious. I LOVE the coconut and pecan filling with the delicious lemon glaze. My husband was also super excited that we were able to have these for his birthday and that I could eat them too. Holidays are still more challenging than they were before food allergies because I have to make everything myself, but it’s so rewarding to know that I can have all the food I ate before just with different allergy friendly ingredients.
What are some recipes that you have been able to convert to fit your allergy needs? I’m always looking for more recipes to convert so I can’t wait to hear about your favorites! I hope you enjoy these Coconut Pecan Lemon Bars just as much as my family does!
For the Crust
- 1/3 cup vegan butter, softened (I use “Earth Balance Soy Free Vegan Buttery Sticks”)
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I use “Better Batter”)
For the Filling
- 2 tbsp flax seed meal
- 6 tbsp warm water
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup coconut
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
For the Glaze
- 2 tbsp grated lemon rind
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup powdered sugar (I use “Swerve” brand powdered sugar substitute for a refined sugar free option)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, and flour together.
- Press mixture evenly into the bottom of a 11 x 7 ungreased pan.
- Bake 15 minutes or until crust is set but has not browned.
- In a small bowl, mix together flax seed meal and water. Set to the side for 5 minutes to firm up.
- Combine all filling ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.
- Pour mixture over the warm crust and bake for 25 minutes.
- While the bars are baking, combine all glaze ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Spread glaze over the bars after removing them from the oven.
- Cool completely before cutting into squares.
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