Kitchen wisdom is sage advice

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Sending all the good vibes and healing thoughts to those caught in the terrible wildfires in the North Bay – I can’t even imagine the scale of destruction happening. I don’t even live in the thick of it, and I still can’t see the sky on account of smoke. My heart hurts for my state and for those in the middle of it all.

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These bars can bring a little sunshine to otherwise smoky, obscured days – the citrus is bright and fresh, and we all know I’m obsessed with herbs in dessert, so this is no exception. The sage in the crust is noticeable but not aggressive – just a hint of earthiness to play up the brightness of the meyer lemons (locally grown, of course!). Blueberries and almonds go with just about anything, so why not invite them to the party too?

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These do double duty as dessert and breakfast (that seems to be a theme around here, hmm) – makes some amount of sense, since my desserts are almost all whole-food and fruit focused.

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Besides, these have a hefty dose of eggs which basically makes them breakfast. See? Science!

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In other news, there are finally leaves on the ground, and of course I’m excited about a return to sweater, boot and scarf weather. I’m a little sad at the shortening days though, especially because I miss my good morning photography light! Sigh. It will be back!

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IMG_1496In the meantime, I’ll make bright, citrusy and quite probably herb-y desserts to bring some brightness to the shorter days. Happy Autumn!

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Meyer Lemon Blueberry Bars on an Almond Sage Crust

Lightly sweet, tangy, and perfect if you have a glut of meyer lemons (though regular lemons are fine too!). The sage adds such a nice earthy twist to the basic lemon bar – I love lemon with almond so these just hit all high points for me! Grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free, arguably paleo. Yield: 1 9″ pie plate or 1 8 by 8 square pan, serves 2-8 (ha – I recommend dessert and then for breakfast the next day). Adapted from my orange creamsicle bars, here!

For the crust:

1.5 c almond flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 + 1/8 c unsalted almond butter
1.5 tbsp pure maple syrup
1.5 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1.5 tbsp chopped sage

Preheat the oven to 350, and grease an 9″ round pie dish (must be deep) or an 8 by 8 pan.

In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Add in almond butter, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, vanilla, and almond extract and stir until combined and crumbly. Stir in chopped sage. Press the crust dough evenly into the prepared pan, and poke with a fork a few times. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside when done.

For the filling:

4.5 eggs*
1/2 c pure maple syrup
zest of 3 meyer lemons, roughly chopped
1/4c + 1/8c fresh lemon juice
pinch of sea salt
4.5 tbsp coconut flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
* to achieve half an egg: crack an egg into a small bowl and whisk it; then either measure or eyeball half and use that. or just use a whole one as long as it’s small, I doubt it would affect the consistency of the bars all that much…

For the blueberry swirl:
1 c wild blueberries (preferably frozen, thawed)
1 tsp vanilla extract

While the crust is baking, make the filling! In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, maple, lemon zest and juice, sea salt, coconut flour (sifted if lumpy) and vanilla until smooth. Pour the filling into the par-baked crust. For the blueberry swirl, blend blueberries with their juice (some is released during thawing) and vanilla either with an immersion blender or a food processor. The sauce won’t be especially thick, but that’s fine. Pour the sauce into a ziplock bag (or use a piping bag, but be warned that blueberry stains!), carefully snip a really small triangle off of one corner, and pipe 5-6 lines across the lemon filling. Some will sink in, but most will stay on top (and no, the lines do NOT have to be perfect!). Take a table knife and swirl the lines gently into the filling.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. The top should be mostly firm and the filling set, with just a small amount of wiggle (it’ll firm up as it cools). Let cool completely and eat immediately or chill in the fridge for later (I like them cold!) — serve with vanilla ice cream :) Store any leftovers in the fridge.

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If life hands you lemons, you should obviously make lemon bars

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LEMON BARS!

With MEYER LEMONS!!

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Life doesn’t get much better than that.

Especially since we had a random little heat wave in the middle of last week. And of course, it hit Thursday and I immediately wanted cookies because apparently Thursday=cookies. But seeing as it was waaaayyy too hot for any normal person to want to even consider turning on the oven, I wisely opted for no bake, raw lemon bars. Because they took about thirty seconds to throw together and then all I had to do was shove them in the fridge for chill time until I ate them. Lazy lazy and very nearly instant cookie gratification. Wheee!!!

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Also, I love lemon desserts but I’m wildly picky. For instance, I find most lemon loaf cakes to be waaaayy too sweet—almost cloying and definitely icky. I love lemon scones and lemon curd—both of those are usually a good balance of not too sweet and just sweet enough. These bars totally fall into that category too—they’re not overly tart, but neither are they stupid-sweet.

Besides all that, they also happen to be raw, vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free! Sooo…. breakfast, anyone??

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And really. Anything with Meyer lemons: sign me up. They are SO much more exciting than a regular lemon (although these bars would also be delicious with regular lemons, I’m sure). Lemons=spring! Perfect springy dessert/breakfast/feelgoodtreat/younameit/please eat it.

That being said, these take pretty much five minutes to make so you have nooooo excuses. Lemon bars!! With nearly instant gratification!! YAY! Do it.

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Raw Meyer Lemon-Coconut Bars

Recipe lightly adapted from Pure Ella, here! Raw, vegan, no bake, gluten free, and refined sugar free. They’re full of healthy fats and whole grains… AND they’re delicious. Recipe makes about 9 squares—I did mine in an 8 by 8 pan, but I think next time I’ll use something smaller so there’s a  better crust to icing ratio.

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For the crust:

  • 1/3 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c raw buckwheat groats
  • scant 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 c dates, pitted (and soaked if they’re hard)
  • 3/4 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • fresh zest of one meyer lemon

For the icing:

  • 1/4 c unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • fresh juice of 1/2 a meyer lemon

Line your preferred pan with a parchment paper and set aside.

In a food processor, whiz together almond flour, oats, buckwheat, salt, dates, coconut, maple, and lemon zest until thoroughly mixed and blended (you’ll need to scrape the sides a bit). Upend the processor over your prepared pan, and pat the crust down with your hands until it’s evenly distributed.

In a microwave-safe bowl (or on the stove), melt coconut oil and maple syrup together. Once everything is fully melted, stir in coconut oil and stir until that melts as well. Set aside until this cools off a little, then stir in the lemon juice. Pour all this goodness over your prepared crust, and carefully transfer to the fridge to chill for at least an hour before cutting and serving. Keep it stored in the refrigerator, assuming there’s any left to store…

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