Sweet and Sugar-free Raspberry Lemon Swirl Bars

To make use of the gorgeous produce we have readily available right now, I decided to make something I hadn’t really even liked in my carb-addicted dark past. Lemon bars had never really appealed to me, probably because they don’t involve chocolate. And yet they just sounded really good the other day for some reason, with their refreshing tartness and shortbread crust. The recipe is well-suited to a healthful makeover because of the low carb content of eggs and lemons, so I just couldn’t resist trying a batch. After demolishing a trial batch along with my faithful testers, it’s safe to say these gluten-free low carb lemon bars are just as church picnic worthy as their high carb counterparts!

In all their tangy, swirled glory…

As far as the technical baking stuff goes, you do need erythritol if you want to add bulk and lessen the carb count per bar, not to mention the nice rounded sweetness from combining it with the stevia. It also adds a nice crunchiness when it crystallizes, but no overwhelming cooling effect. However, if you refrigerate these bars, you’ll want to pop ‘em in the microwave for 10 seconds or so to warm them up for the best mouth feel. Furthermore, you can use a product like ThickenThin Not Sugar (or pure acacia gum) to lessen the amount of recrystallization if you want a smoother texture. You can forgo the erythritol altogether, but you’ll have to use a lot of stevia or just accept a less sweet finished product. Finally, the xanthan gum takes the place of flour in the original recipe to firm up the top of the bars. You could probably use a bit of coconut flour for a similar effect.

Health-wise, these bars are a delicious vehicle for the goodness of raspberries and lemons, which are bursting with vitamin C and cancer-fighting compounds. In lemon, the limonins have the free radical scavenging cytotoxic effects. In red raspberries, ellagitannins may block carcinogens and ward off sickness. Both raspberries and lemons are low in carbs, which makes them perfect candidates for a after-dinner treat or a pre-workout snack. I sip at stevia-sweetened lemonade all day, which is supposed to aid in the absorption of the catechins (antioxidants) in my green tea. I’ll drink to that!

Healthy Raspberry Lemon Swirl Bars

Makes eight bars

Ingredients:

Shortbread crust:

1/4 cup butter
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening:
-1 tablespoon erythritol or xylitol
-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons almond meal
1/4 cup oat or buckwheat flour (oat flour is a lot prettier!)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum

Filling:
2 large cage-free organic eggs
1/2 cup erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract (NuNaturals brand)
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Raspberry Swirl:
1/2 cup organic raspberries
1 teaspoon organic lemon juice
1 teaspoon erythritol
Fresh raspberries for garnish

Preparation:
Soften butter for shortbread. Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or blender. Cream butter and erythritol together, then work in flours and gums with a fork until thoroughly combined. Add a pinch of salt and stevia. You want it to be a bit sweeter from the stevia than you can stand it, because some of the stevia’s sweetness breaks down under heat. Press or spread into an 8″ by 4″ loaf pan lined with buttered parchment. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Let crust cool while you prepare the filling. Stick it in the freezer to speed the process.

Powder erythritol. Beat erythritol with eggs, lemon juice, and zest. Add gums. Add a pinch of sea salt and stevia to taste. Pour over shortbread crust.

Puree raspberries with lemon juice and erythritol. Strain through a mesh colander, pushing the puree through with a spatula, if you don’t want seeds in your bars. Drop raspberry puree onto lemon filling in different spots and swirl with the spatula. Dot batter with fresh raspberries if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until just set. I left the center of mine slightly jiggly, and it firmed up after cooling.

~3.75g net carbs per bar!

  • Mommy Kong

    Your food pics look amazing. They make me want to whip up something low-carb and delicious immediately! Good job. (btw, you wouldn’t happened to be a dietetics major, would you? you seem to know your stuff.)

  • Michele

    Your blog is great and these lemon bars look yummy. I bought the ingredients, but I could only find xylitol. Is it ground like the erythritol, and do you still add the same amount of stevia?

  • Lauren

    Mommy Kong – Thanks for the kind words!

    Michele – You could probably cut the amount of xylitol back to 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons and use the same amount of stevia. Taste it before adding the stevia and see if it’s sweet enough! I don’t work that much with xylitol, but it does function similarly.

  • Michele

    Thank you Lauren. I didn’t wait for your response, so I just used the xylitol in place of the erythritol and it wasn’t too sweet to my taste. They are all eaten if that’s any indication..:)I love the lemon with the fresh raspberries!

  • Anonymous

    These look super yummy. Xanthum gum doesn’t really agree with me though. Do you think they would work without it? Could i replace with a thickener like corn starch,or arrow root? Thanks!

  • Lauren

    Anon – You could definitely use a thickener like cornstarch or arrowroot! I have never worked it, but am guessing 1 tablespoon would do the trick.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15295032436679300745 Phebe and Gerry

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Phebe and Gerry

    These lemon bars are DEEEE LIC IOUS!! I was gonna say they were "sick" but thought people might think I meant a negative comment!! LOL… OH SO GOOD!

  • Modern Ink Studio

    Is there something we can use in place of the oat flour or buckwheat flour? can you use almond or coconut flour?

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    Thanks for the recipe, my girlfriend loves strawberries, I'm going to surprise her with this delicious desert.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03828055180172598750 Pezidesi

    Lauren,
    I was reading a while ago about the difference between Guar Gum and Xanthan Gum.

    Xanthan Gum is derived from corn and I am sensitive to corn products…it's also more expensive than the guar gum. And from my reading some say it has better elasticity. Apparently xhanthan is easier to digest, but in such small amounts I haven't noticed any difference.

    Guar gum is derived from a legume type plant. So I've started using it instead. I haven't noticed any difference between the two personally. Just thought it might be good to note this on your website for people with corn sensitivities. It's also cheaper!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09459749266774135409 Unknown

    What a WONDERFUL site to discover. Every recipe of yours I have tried has been great! My 3 tweens have given them a thumbs up. I had almost given up on low carb bread recipes and muffins…they all turned out terrible tasting, especially the coconut flour ones…until I found this sight. The ingredients is easy to get, and I do not have to special order any of it, the coconut flour recipes are superb. You are quite talented , thank you so much!

    Smiles,

    Stephanie

  • Sarah

    Wow, I made these this weekend and I think they might be my favorite low-carb dessert ever! I made them to take to a friend's house who is allergic to almonds so I used ground walnuts instead. Also, I was lazy and just layered in whole raspberries instead of mashing and straining them. Really, really yummy. Your recipes are the best!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12992918908739085132 Lauren

    Sarah, I'm so glad you enjoyed the bars! Thanks for reminding me of these old faves – it's raspberry season. :)