To me, life is all about balance. You shouldn’t eat pizza and deep-fried oreos everyday, but you also shouldn’t resign yourself to a life of kale, celery, and rice cakes (btw, gross). As a former fat kid (seriously though), I learned early on that depriving yourself of something only makes you want it more. Diets will send you on a rollercoaster of weight loss and gains, and cutting something out of your life completely (dairy, gluten, sugar, whatever) is unbelievably hard to maintain and often unproductive.*
*unless your doctor tells you to for health reasons. I’m not an MD ya’ll, I just bake.
I like to follow a few simple guidelines to stay healthy and happy:
- Eat a balanced and colorful diet (get all up on those vegetables)
- Drink lots of water, even more than you think you should
- Sleep! Nothing is more important than sleep
- Workout when you can, and choose something that makes you feel happy. If you hate running, don’t run. Find another cardio that makes you feel good!
- Be nice to yourself, both mentally and emotionally
- Treat yourself to things you like, whether it be wine, or chocolate, or a really trashy rom-com
And in the name of balance, it is great to have some go-to recipes for things that both taste delicious and won’t leave you in a regret-filled sugar coma 20 minutes later. Enter, Greek Yogurt Lemon Bars. Only 150 calories, packed with flavor and protein, and the perfect treat to remind yourself that hey! you’re awesome and deserve things that taste great and look pretty.
This recipe, adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction (#girlcrush), has a buttery graham cracker crust, and a not-terribly-sweet filling made from only 6 ingredients: greek yogurt, cream cheese, eggs, lemons, vanilla extract, and sugar. Make sure you use a very thick greek yogurt like FAGE or Chobani, and normal block-style cream cheese, or else the filling will not set properly.
It will only take about 30 minutes of baking at a low temp to set the filling, but then you’ll need to pop them in the fridge for at least 4 hours to complete cool. Trust me, they’re worth the wait. Use that time to call your mom or write a thank you note or catch up with those dang Kardashians.
Once set, cut into 12 squares and top with fresh fruit or a little dollop of lemon sorbet! Great for a dinner party or afternoon brunch or just because life is tough and you deserve it.
Follow me on Instagram and tag #littlebitsbakery so I can see all the recipes you make. ♥
- 1 cup (128g) graham cracker crumbs (about 7-8 full sheet graham crackers)
- 4 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
- 6 ounces (168g) brick-style light cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (181g) plain nonfat or low fat Greek yogurt, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- optional: top with fresh fruit or lemon sorbet when serving
- Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides to easily lift the bars out of the pan before cutting. Set aside.
- Make the crust: Mix the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together in a medium bowl until combined. Evenly press crust into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Make the filling: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on high speed until completely smooth, about 1 minute. On medium-high speed, beat in yogurt until completely combined. Then beat in the eggs and egg yolk until combined. Finally, beat in the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until everything is combined and no lumps remain.
- Pour filling onto the crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center of the bars no longer jiggles (remove from the oven and gently wiggle the pan to check). Allow the bars to cool at room temperature set on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 3-4 hours or even overnight.
- Once chilled, lift the parchment out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into squares. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make ahead tip: Prepare the bars 1-3 days in advance and store covered tightly in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.