Lemon Blueberry Bars

I’m breaking up with soy. Here I thought dairy was my only problem, but I guess things aren’t ever that simple. The backstory, in case you’re new to the game, is that in my early 20s I was breaking out like a puberty stricken teen when I was eating/drinking dairy. It took me forever to figure it out [denial is a hell of a drug], and once I did, it really cleaned things up. I was pretty hardcore about it for awhile [a year or two], avoiding it it nearly 99.99% of the time. It wasn’t easy. In the last year or so, I’ve cheated a lot realized that dairy and I are okay with each other for the most part in smaller quantities [mmmmm cheese and ice cream and the occasional cappuccino], and if I pay particular attention to fat content [as near to whole as possible] and to avoid processing. The more natural, the better.

These days I usually use coconut milk when it came to liquid dairy substitutes. I prefer the taste. For some crazy reason during the last two weeks I switched back to soy milk for protein in my smoothies. To add insult to injury, I also snacked on shelled edamame at work. Coincidentally enough, I’ve been breaking out like crazy the past two weeks or so. Really bad. The worst its been in years. It took me until Thursday to figure it out. I’m pretty sure I was consuming just as much soy as dairy back in my early 20s, too. Hmmm. So after talking it over with my esthetician [shameless plug], it kind of makes sense. I’m cutting off the soy. I wasn’t particularly enjoying it anyway, so it won’t be any love lost. My face has already calmed down thanks in part to the facial and the lack of soy. Fingers crossed.

Now that I’m back on dairy in moderation, I have declared sweetened condensed milk dangerous. I’ve had very few run ins with it for whatever reason, and every time I end up buying a can, I’m reminded of it’s intensity. It’s thick. It’s creamy. It’s ridiculously sweet. It makes me want Vietnamese coffee, really. It takes a lot of restraint not to just eat it by the spoonful out of the can. Andrew found this dessert awhile back, and when I was given my lovely sack of lemons from Eileen, I was kind of sold. I had already planned on making lemon bars anyway.

They’re really, really sweet, and not at all like traditional lemon bars [not that they’re trying to be]. The graham cracker crust was a wonderful excuse to buy a box. Am I the only one who feels like a kid when I eat them? The blueberries were perfectly sweet, but tart enough to cut through the crazy sweet of the rest of the dessert. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know if I could have really enjoyed it. It was all kinds of sweet on top of sweet. Sometimes that’s what you need. 

Inspiration: Two Peas & Their Pod

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice [two small lemons]
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350° and grab an 8×8″ pan. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, the melted butter, sugar, and all but one teaspoon of the lemon zest. Stir until it’s all combined and kind of sticky [I used my hands]. Press the crust into the pan, and bake it for 10 minutes.

While it’s baking, mix the egg yolks and condensed milk. Add the lemon juice and remaining one teaspoon of zest. Keep whisking it until it starts to thicken. Do. Not. Taste. This. It will be your demise. Fold in the blueberries. Pour it into the baked crust. Bake for 15 minutes until it’s set.

Cool it to room temperature before eating. It’s even better once it’s in the fridge, but good luck holding out. That stuff is good.

9 comments

  1. Amy Mills

    I think it’s awesome that you can so easily figure out how your body responds to different things. I feel like I’ll never know if I function better/have nicer skin/whatever if I change my diet just because I’m so unwilling to even try cutting out things like dairy or soy or sugar or wheat. Soy’s not too much to give up… but dairy?! Man, I commend you for not having it!

    And sometimes sweet-on-sweet-on-sweet is just what a person needs. I like baking sweetened condensed milk with really tart things though, just cause it is so sweet (key lime pie!).

    • Michelle

      After years of breaking out, I was willing to do just about anything. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done food-wise. Cheese was the hardest to give up. I love it so much. I hope I don’t ever have to go through it again. Soy shouldn’t be so hard so long as it’s just the pure stuff, not the soy byproducts in 23890238920 things, so we’ll see!

      The tart is so dang necessary. Even with the lemon, I limited my pieces of this. It was definitely much more of an Andrew dessert.

  2. Alex @ Brain, Body, Because

    This looks amazing.
    Also, it never occurred to me that dairy might cause me to break out???? I thought that I just had terrible skin, but I do eat quite a bit of dairy AND soy. Thanks for the PSA, I’ll have to start paying more attention!

    • Michelle

      There haven’t been like crazy studies that I know of, but I wanted to see if it affected me at all. Worth a shot! They say that it’s the hormones in both that could possibly affect someone. Lovely!

  3. Eileen

    Yay lemons! I’m so glad to see how you used them (well, some of them). And you know the sweetness of meyers contributed to the overall sweet sweet sweet. :) I haven’t had a bar like this in a really long time, especially with graham cracker crust–it sounds perfect!

  4. Allie

    Sweet-on-sweet isn’t my favorite, but graham cracker crusts are. I’ve been known to scrape the crust off of cheesecake and leave the cake part behind, for those crazies who prefer such things. And PB slathered on graham crackers is childhood-adulthood magic.

    I feel you on avoiding soy (well, all legumes–WHY lentils, WHY?? I miss you so…). I can do it once every few days, but more than that and my guts throw a fit. But soy milk isn’t the best of the milk substitutes anyway (although hemp milk still solidly ranks as “worst” as far as I’m concerned), so almond and coconut ahead!

    • Michelle

      I still haven’t tried hemp. I just can’t bring myself to do it. And if you don’t like it? It has to be bad. You like weird things like I do, so I trust your tastebuds fully.

      • Allie

        Save your money. I like weird, but I like GOOD weird. Hemp milk is like…coat-your-tongue-with-a-nasty-film dirt-tasting sludge. Appetizing, right? But I guess some people do like it, ’cause the stores keep selling it. To each their own…

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>