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Lighten Up: Low-Fat Lemon Bars

 

Slim Lemon Squares

Makes: 16 servings

Ingredients
Nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
2/3 cup granulated sugar plus 3 tablespoons
1/2 stick cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions
1. Coat an 8-x-8-x-2-inch baking pan with nonstick spray; set pan aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine 3/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Pat mixture onto the bottom of prepared pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in the same bowl, combine egg and egg white. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add remaining sugar and flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon water, and baking powder. Beat on medium 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour mixture over baked layer in pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until edges are light brown and center is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
4. Sift powdered sugar over top. Cut into 16 bars. Store in refrigerator.

Nutrition facts per serving (1 bar): 100 calories, 1g protein, 17g carbohydrate, 3g fat (2g saturated), 0g fiber

Healthy Baking Tips

Stick with It
A stick of butter or margarine gives the crust better texture than tub margarine, says Kerry Neville, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. We like the taste of butter; plus, stick margarine can pack artery-clogging trans fats.

Grate Idea
Protect your knuckles by ditching the old box grater. Zest the lemon with a Microplane, which has a handle that offers a sure grip.

Make the Cut
No pastry cutter? When you add the butter to the flour mixture, pinch and rub the mix between your fingers and thumbs until you have coarse crumbs the size of peas.

Top It Off
Use a fine mesh strainer to dust the bars with powdered sugar.

Raise the Bar
"I've seen lemon bar recipes that call for six eggs," Neville says. This slimmed-down version uses just one egg and one egg white.

Healthy Toppings

We're dishing up three fresh ideas for serving these yummy bars.

Juicy Fruit

Spoon fresh berries on top for a burst of color and antioxidants.

Quality Thyme

Add a tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves to the flour and sugar when you're making the crust. It sounds odd, but the earthiness of the herb complements the zestiness of the lemon.

Coco Loco

Garnish with toasted coconut. (Prepare flakes in a 350-degree oven in a single layer on a baking sheet for six to eight minutes, stirring once.)

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July/August 2010.

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