Baking season is in FULL SWING right now! If you came to my house, you'd swear it was a bakery and to be quite honest, that might not be too far off from what it's been becoming. I've always enjoyed both cooking and baking, but there's something about baking that just feels special. You know that when that oven timer dings, a little piece of heaven awaits and digging into that first bite is always the best feeling.
All of my favorite holiday recipes (well, almost all) are baked goods and something tells me I'm not alone in that. When I first began the low FODMAP diet to help heal my SIBO, it was right around this time of year, the beginning of October. With the US holiday season right around the corner, I knew I'd be facing some major challenges right out the gate but I was ready for them. I thought resisting any sort of treats would lead me to much faster healing. And so I resisted. I watched my family and friends enjoy themselves, not obsess over food, and feel great afterwards. And yea, I felt sorry for myself at first. But these moments were the moments that collectively inspired me to try something different, a new more inclusive approach while still following the low FODMAP diet closely. I experimented with classic recipes like chocolate chip cookies and brownies first in attempts to create a low FODMAP dessert version, graduating to desserts that I never expected to ever be able to enjoy again, like these gluten free, refined sugar free, lactose free cheesecake bars. The Low FODMAP diet can feel tricky and restrictive, that is a fact. While I wouldn't recommend cheesecake bars every day (for anyone!) a gluten free, refined sugar free, and lactose free version like these cheesecake bars is a great low FODMAP dessert option for any upcoming family gatherings you'll be attending this season.
My husband's grandmother is the actual Queen of Cheesecake. She has a family-famous recipe that everyone who has ever had the pleasure of tasting goes wild for and when I tell you it is the BEST cheesecake in the world, I mean it. So, naturally this means that my husband is a cheesecake snob. Nothing in this world can touch his Meam's cheesecake. But you guys! When I made these gluten free, refined sugar free, and lactose free cheesecake bars, he went wild for THEM! Now, I'm not saying they're better than Meam's cheesecake, but I'll be darned if they're not close! I was honestly shocked at how amazing these cheesecake bars were when I first tried them. I didn't expect them to be BAD, but I didn't expect they'd be this good.
Originally, I created these as part of a Golden Girls Day photography collab, so I just decided to find a recipe that looked yummy that I could alter to be gluten free, refined sugar free, and lactose free which is when I stumbled across King Arthur Flour's Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars. More often than not I prefer to create my own recipes from scratch, especially when I am working with clients (that's just a given!), but sometimes doing gluten free, refined sugar free, and lactose free remakes are just way more fun when I'm creating content for the blog. I'm generally still testing recipes since most remakes that I work from are gluten and refined sugar FULL, but it's like navigating an existing path rather than forging my own and it's great because it allows me to have a little bit of a break and have fun, which is ultimately what this whole thing is all about! Having fun, eating well, and sharing with those you love.
Don't forget, if you made this recipe please leave me a comment below and always tag your photos #PDLrecipes on Facebook and Instagram!
Note: If you're not sure where to find lactose free dairy products, I recommend checking out my favorite brand, Green Valley Creamery! You can find their products at Whole Foods or through their website.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post, but rest assured these are all products I personally use and very highly recommend. I will never link to anything on this site unless it is something I love!
For the Crust
2 tsp cinnamon
5 tbsp lactose free butter, melted
For the Filling
16 oz lactose free cream cheese
1 cup granulated monk fruit
1/4 cup lactose free sour cream
3 large eggs
3 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 375F, grease an 8x8 baking pan, and prepare crust first.
If using graham cracker crumbs, skip to step 3. To prepare crust, add 8 graham crackers to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until a powder forms. You do not want it to be too fine, but try to ensure there are no large pieces of graham cracker remaining.
Add graham cracker crumbs + cinnamon to a large bowl. Pour in melted butter + mix until fully incorporated.
Firmly press graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan, ensuring you've covered it evenly.
Freeze the crust for 15 minutes prior to baking.
After 15 minutes, remove the crust from the freezer and bake for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove the crust from the oven, reduce heat to 325F, and allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and granulated monk fruit until smooth.
Next, add sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice continuing to mix until fully incorporated, being sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix.
Spoon the filling into the pan with your pre-baked crust and refrigerate 10 minutes prior to baking.
Bake the cheesecake bars for 40-50 minutes or until set. Allow bars to cool for 30 minutes prior to serving.
Cheesecake should be stored in the fridge.