Earlier this week two events coincided that resulted in the creation of my latest recipe obsession: Lemon Zucchini Bars!
First, I found an old Weight Watchers magazine that had a Lemon Zucchini Bar recipe. Then, I realized we had WAY too many overripe bananas on our counter. I needed to find a way to use them or lose them (or freeze them, but then I wouldn't have been able to have dessert!)
So you may be wondering how a banana relates to my cooking a Lemon Zucchini Bar. Well, one of my favorite calorie saving tips is to use ripe bananas or applesauce as a substitute for butter in baking. The texture of the banana is equivalent to butter for your baking needs, but the number of calories doesn't even compare! One stick of butter has a whopping 810 calories. A banana on the other hand, has 100 calories!!!!
Why doesn't everyone break up with butter then? Well, obviously it isn't quite the same as using butter. But if you try a recipe like the one I'm sharing today that you haven't made with butter yet, I doubt you'll notice at all. Most recipes I've made pre and post banana substitution tasted the same to me. However, there is one catch-if you don't eat the baked goods the first day or two the consistency does get a little rubbery.
Rubber?! Should you not even bother with my calorie saving secret? Hardly! With the calories you save, you can eat more of your tasty treat without the guilt! If you don't think you'll want to indulge that much, you can always make your recipe for company.
OK so enough with the small talk! I want to share with you my modified Lemon Zucchini Square recipe. The healthy Weight Watcher's version clocked in at 140 calories per 1/16 serving. The one I'm about to share with you? Only 40 calories for the same serving size! That's about 2/3 of the calories in the original. The banana substitution saved 700 calories and I also subbed out the 1 cup of sugar for Splenda to save another 700 or so calories. If you don't like using artificial sugar, that's fine. Use the real deal and you'll still save at least 40 calories per square.
Here's what you need for my version:
1/4 cup Splenda
1 extra ripe banana
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of lemon juice (I needed 2 small lemons the 2nd time but 3 large ones the first time....)
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup of Splenda
1 medium zucchini, grated
2 large eggs
Step One: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and make your crust! In a bowl (NOT in the baking dish-I tried this the first night....please don't tell my mom! If you're a real cook, you already know this idea did not result in my crust mixing very well) mix your 1/4 cup Splenda, extra ripe banana, and 1 cup of flour together until they are blended. It will be the consistency of fluffy dough when you have it right. Once everything is mixed completely, spread your crust on the bottom of an 8 in x 8 in glass pan. Pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes OR be a rebel like me and put it in the freezer for about 5 while you gather your other ingredients.
Step Two: Put your crust in the oven on 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until it becomes golden brown.
Step Three: While you're waiting, don't just stand there drooling over that yummy smell-stir up the filling! Grate your zucchini and then mix all your filling ingredients together.
Step Four: By now your crust should be done. Take it out of the oven and pour your filling on top. Put your raw zucchini bars back in the oven for another 20-25 mins or until there is a little browning on top.
Step Five: TRY to let this cool and TRY not to eat the whole pan on your own. Sharing is caring!
These lemon bars are SO good that I may or may not have eaten the entire pan for dinner yesterday. But, when you think about it this recipe is almost like a quiche which is perfectly acceptable for dinner so...it's all good, right? Not that I really did eat the whole pan....I did let my husband have one square...
Do you ever use banana or applesauce in your baking recipes? What do you think about trying it for these delicious lemon squares? I'm dying to hear your thoughts and dying to come over if you make them...please?....