vegan lemon bars with chamomile & fresh lemon slices on a plate

Vegan Lemon Bars with a Chamomile Twist (gluten-free & refined sugar-free)

These vegan lemon bars are bright, cheery sunshine in your mouth! And with chamomile thrown into the mix, they aren’t your grandmothers lemon bars. Made without dairy, eggs, gluten, and refined sugar, these are much healthier than the version hailing from the folks at Betty Crocker in the early 1960’s. They’re also made without vegan butter, naturally sweetened, and contain only 10 wholesome ingredients.

SOUND DELICIOUS?! HERE YOU’LL FIND:

Why You Should Add Chamomile to Your Vegan Lemon Bars
How to Make Vegan Lemon Bars
Tips & FAQs
Vegan Lemon Bars RECIPE

whole lemon with leaves and a fresh sliced lemon for making gluten-free vegan lemon bars

Why You Should Add Chamomile to Your Vegan Lemon Bars

Dried chamomile flowers take this classic dessert to new botanical levels! While adding the chamomile is optional, I highly recommend it. It’s not only a unique addition to make your bars stand out in the crowd, but chamomile’s notes of honey and apple are also a nice complement to the tartness of the lemon. Plus, I think the digestive benefits of chamomile are reason enough.

The Health Benefits of Chamomile

Chamomile is a sweet little flower with mighty health benefits. Humans have been using this herb as medicine for over 3,500 years!

Perhaps its most notorious benefit is chamomile’s ability to help soothe our nerves. It has a soft and sweet calming effect and has found its way into many an herbal tea for stress, anxiety, sleep, and even depression. It’s a great herb for inviting a little more ease into your day.

Or maybe you need some help with digestion? Chamomile may be of help there too! Known for its bitter qualities, chamomile can help to support healthy digestion by signaling more digestive enzymes and hormones to be released, more bile to be secreted to help us digest fats, and a whole slew of other digestive actions.

I’ve said it a million times, but it bears repeating forever: when our digestion is healthy, we’re much healthier too. We experience less heartburn, gas and bloating, indigestion, and stomach cramping. Overall, we’re better nourished and better primed to fight off disease. And that, sweet pals, is the power of the plants at work!

And while chamomile has many other health benefits, I think there’s one other that’s relevant especially here… smack in the middle of a dessert recipe. Studies have shown chamomile to be helpful in the regulation of blood sugar, which also demonstrates its potential in the treatment of diabetes. What this means is that chamomile may have a stabilizing effect on our blood sugar, helping to regulate potential extreme spikes and drops in blood sugar that often occurs when we consume sugar.

And in conclusion, I declare chamomile the perfect addition to sweet treats! 🙂

fresh chamomile flowers

How to Make Vegan Lemon Bars

Making these gluten-free vegan lemon bars is simple, but does take some time and patience as they require a few hours of resting time before cutting and serving. Here’s the gist of it… to mentally prepare. 🙂 You’ll find the full recipe at the bottom of this post.

EQUIPMENT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 9×9 baking pan
  • parchment paper
  • food processor (You can also mix the crust by hand if you don’t have a food processor.)
  • blender (A high-speed blender is best, but not necessary. You may want to strain the filling through a fine-mesh strainer if your blender has a hard time pureeing the chamomile flowers into the coconut cream.)

HOW TO MAKE THE CRUST:

The crust in this recipe is very similar to a shortbread crust, although the flour is replaced with almond and coconut flours. Instead of vegan butter, coconut oil is used. You’ll process all ingredients together in a food processor, then pat firmly into the bottom of your prepared pan to bake while you prepare the filling.

HOW TO MAKE THE FILLING:

While the crust is baking, you’ll prepare the filling. First you’ll infuse the coconut cream with dried chamomile flowers (loose or you can cut open chamomile tea bags). Then, you’ll use a blender to puree the coconut cream and chamomile, then combine with lemon juice, maple syrup, and the other filling ingredients. You’ll whisk together over medium heat until thickened.

Once thickened, you’ll simply pour the chamomile lemon filling over the crust and bake. Chill, cut, and serve!

Tips & Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make lemon bars ahead of time?

Yes! In fact, you’ll need to allow for 2-4 hours of chilling time, although I find them best if let to chill over night. Making them at least the day before is good planning.

Can you freeze lemon bars?

Yes, you can freeze your vegan lemon bars, but do so after you chill them completely (2-4 hours to overnight) and cut them into bars. You can then storing them in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. If you need to stack them in the container, place a piece of parchment or wax paper between the layers.

When you’re ready to enjoy, remove from the freezer, arrange bars in a single layer, and allow to thaw for about 15-20 minutes. (Thaw time will vary according to ambient temperature.)

How long will vegan lemon bars keep?

Enjoy your freshly baked bars within 3-5 days. Otherwise, freeze according to the suggestions above and enjoy within 3 months.

IN THE MOOD FOR MORE HERBAL DESSERTS?! YOU MIGHT ENJOY THESE:

Lemon Rosemary Tart with Rose Hip Jam (vegan, gluten-free, & naturally sweetened)
Calendula & Honey Raw Cheesecake (dairy & gluten-free, naturally sweetened)
Stinging Nettle Cake (vegan & gluten-free)

Healthy Homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts with Pistachio & Rose (vegan & naturally sweetened)

sliced fresh lemons with leaves

Vegan Lemon Bars with Chamomile
(gf & refined sugar-free)

Recipe by Sass AyresCourse: Dessert, Healthy SnacksCuisine: Vegan, Gluten-Free
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes
Resting Time

4

minutes

These sweet and tangy gluten-free vegan lemon bars are naturally sweetened and made without vegan butter! You’ll only find wholesome ingredients in this vegan version of this classic dessert. Adding dried chamomile flowers adds a unique botanical touch and flavor to this recipe, as well as great support for healthy digestion.

Ingredients

  • Almond Flour Crust
  • 2 cups almond flour (not almond meal)

  • 1/3 cup coconut flour

  • 7 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

  • Chamomile-infused Coconut Cream
  • 1 1/3 cup full-fat coconut cream* (cream from ~1 can of coconut milk)

  • 2 heaping tablespoons dried chamomile flowers (or ~5-6 chamomile tea bags)

  • Chamomile Lemon Filling
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best, from ~4 large lemons)

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour (can also use arrowroot or non-GMO corn starch)

  • Optional: pinch of saffron for color (or 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350℉ and prepare a 9×9 baking pan by lining with parchment paper.
  • To Make the Almond Flour Crust
  • In a food processor, add in the almond flour, coconut flour, and sea salt. Pulse a few times to combine thoroughly.
  • Then add in the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Pulse together until thoroughly combined.

    If mixing by hand, add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and but a wooden spoon to mix until thoroughly combined. You also might find it easier to use your clean hands to mix it.
  • Scoop the crust mixture into your prepared pan, spreading evening across the bottom of the pan. Then use a spatula, the back of a spoon, or your fingers to press the crust firmly into the bottom of the pan, making sure to press the edges firmly as well.
  • Place pan in over on center rack and bake until a light golden brown color (~12-15 minutes).
  • While the crust is baking, prepare the chamomile-infused coconut cream and filling.
  • To Make the Chamomile-infused Coconut Cream
  • Add the coconut cream from a can of full-fat coconut milk (see notes) and the dried chamomile flowers to a small sauce pan. Gently bring to just barely a boil, stirring occasionally. Then turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 5-7.

    If using chamomile tea bags, cut open the tea bags and pour the contents directly into the coconut cream. Discard the tea bags.
  • After 5-7 minutes, add chamomile-infused coconut cream to a blender and process until a smooth and creamy. Then, return blended coconut cream back to the sauce pan.
  • To Make the Chamomile Lemon Filling
  • To the coconut cream, add in the remaining ingredients for the chamomile lemon filling. Whisk together until thoroughly combined, stirring until thickened (~5 minutes).
  • To Assemble the Bars
  • Once crust is a light golden brown color, remove from oven and then pour the filling over the crust. Gently tap the pan on the countertop to release any bubbles, then place in oven on center rack. Bake for ~20-30 minutes, or until filling is no longer jiggly. (It might still be a little jiggly, but center should be relatively firm to the touch.)
  • After removing from the oven, let cool for ~20 minutes, then place in the refrigerator to cool completely for at least 2-4 hours, or overnight.
  • When ready to slice and serve, carefully use the edges of the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into squares 4×4. Serve & enjoy!
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Or freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Notes

  • * For the full-fat coconut cream, you can use an actual can of coconut cream. Alternatively, place a can of full-fat coconut milk in the refrigerator over night. When ready to make the lemon bars, open the can upside down, pour off the clear liquid at the top (add it to your water or a smoothie!) and scoop out the coconut cream. A high-quality, full-fat can of coconut milk (~13.5 fl oz.) should yield ~1 1/3 cup of coconut cream, but you made need more than one can.

DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Always check with your health practitioner before consuming certain herbs & medicinal foods, especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking any prescription medications. 

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