In Perfect Bar Unwrapped, we’re sharing exactly what goes into our bars that makes ‘em so darn good for you. That’s why each month we’ll be highlighting one of the 20 powerful superfoods included in the Keith family’s age-old recipe, complete with all of its uses, benefits, and a recipe of your own to try. Because, when we find something amazing, we’re all about sharing the wealth with the people we love.
Meet This Month’s Superfood
When we were a child they made our mouths pucker, but now, as health-conscious adults, they make us smile from ear to ear. We love to love lemons and we just can’t get enough of them, especially when there is so much you can do with them. Call us super fans, but we might even go as far as to call them citrus gold. And who doesn’t want a little more gold in their life?
What It Is
We’ll assume you’re no stranger to this month’s superfood, but do you know anything about where they came from? Don’t worry, we can tell ya.
Arguably one of the most widely consumed tropical fruits, lemons originated at the base of the Himalayan Mountains, with the natural cross pollination of a lime and a citron. It was this happy accident (aren’t those the best kinds?!) that birthed a citrus superfood, cherished throughout history for its distinct flavor and medicinal properties that gave it endless uses—anywhere from treating a cold to dressing a salad!
Nowadays, we hardly give them a second glance at the store, but in earlier times they were a rare commodity—so rare in fact, that lemons were actually presented as gifts to kings. (Does that mean we’re allowed to say ‘and we ate like kings!’ whenever we taste a lemon? We think, yes.)
Hardly a rarity today, lemons can be enjoyed year-round, thanks to the warm weather in California and Arizona, who produce 95% of the entire U.S. quantity of the tropical crop. This means you have 365 days a year to take advantage of all that the powerful fruit has to offer—and you’ll be surprised just how much that actually is.
This kitchen staple is easy to find, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive to buy, but the real value is in the loads of health benefits you get each time you add some of this citrus zest in your life. For years, lemon’s medicinal properties have been used to treat throat infections, digestive issues, oral care, burns, respiratory disorders, weight gain, high blood pressure, and hair and skin health.
It’s pretty amazing how much this common little fruit can do for you, and it’s all because of the nourishing elements that its comprised of.
Once you peel back that skin, you’ll get a generous helping of: vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, fiber, copper, riboflavin, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium zinc, phosphorus and protein in the lemon’s juice. Lemon is also known as one of the most alkaline-forming foods, so they’re great for balancing a highly acidic condition in the body and restoring balance to the body’s pH levels.
With so much awesome-ness in these guys, it kind of has us wondering who came up with the idea to use the term ‘it’s a lemon’ as being synonymous for a bad thing. We might have a bone to pick with that guy!
When life gives you lemons, USE ‘EM! In everything and anything! The most obvious way to reap all their health benefits is by adding them to your diet—this can be as simple as adding a few drops of juice to your water throughout the day, or by creating one of many dishes that is complimented by the fruit’s flavor and moisture. But the uses don’t stop there. There’s plenty of lemon to go around and you can incorporate it into almost every part of your life!
(If you’re into essential oils, you’ll want to check out our article about them and learn how lemon can do you all sorts of favors in oil form!)
Like any fruit or vegetable, you want to make sure you know how to pick the good ones and how to store them for optimal use. For cleaning and deodorizing purposes, it’s okay to use older lemons that are about to turn since you won’t actually be ingesting these ones. If you’re at the store shopping for the citrus because you’re planning on cooking a lemon-braised chicken or making a DIY lemon and rosewater face wash, make sure you’re buying the best of the best.
Once you’ve picked the best lemons of the bunch, make to store them properly. They can stay fresh for about 7-10 days (out of sunlight) at room temperature, or for about 4-5 weeks in the fridge. Easy as (lemon) pie, right?
There are really so many ways to go when it comes to cooking with lemon, and many of the recipes we love left lemon playing a small (yet mighty) role in the big picture of the meal. So, when we tried this delectable dessert recipe for Paleo Lemon Bars, which let the amazing flavors of this month’s superfood really steal the show, we knew we had to share with you. Warning: you won’t be able to have just one.
The Recipe: Paleo Lemon Bars
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
For the crust:
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup coconut oil at room temperature (it should be the consistency of soft butter)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup coconut flour sifted (95g)
For the lemon topping:
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tsp lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
- 2 tsp coconut flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons–do not use lemon juice, it simply won’t taste the same as fresh lemons)
- Preheat your oven to 350F and generously rub an 8×8 inch pan with coconut oil. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat together the honey, coconut oil and pinch of salt until creamy and well combined. Stir in the coconut flour until a dough forms.
- Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan and bake until just lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes. Once cooked, let cool for 30 minutes.
- Lower the temperature of your oven to 325F and lower the oven rack to the 2nd from the bottom position.
- Once the crust has cooled, gently whisk together the eggs, honey and lemon zest in a large bowl. Don’t use an electric mixer here or you will over-beat the eggs and the topping with crack once baked. Use a hand whisk.
- In a separate, medium bowl, whisk the coconut flour into the lemon juice, 1 tsp at a time, until well mixed. Make sure you continually whisk as you add the flour so that it doesn’t clump up.
- Pour the lemon juice mixture into the egg mixture, whisking while you pour, until evenly combined.
- Pour the topping over top of the cooled crust and bake until it is just set, and the very center is just slightly jiggly, about 21-23 minutes. Let cool completely at room temperature. Then, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, best over night. You need to let the crust completely cool, or it will be soft.
- Using a very sharp knife (to make sure you cut all the way through the crust) cut the bars into squares and snack away.
If only your childhood self could see you now, loving lemons and all like it’s nobody’s business. You might not have seen the appeal back then, but we know you’re a fan of the yellow citrus today–especially after trying those Paleo lemon bars. No puckering involved!