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 protocol closely. I experimented with classic recipes like chocolate chip cookies and brownies first, 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. Low FODMAP 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 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.
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.