January 13, 2014

Skinny Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake Bars

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I've seen a lot of lemon recipes recently and ever time, I started craving it. There is something about the fresh tartness of lemon that is so good.  To me, lemon is creamy things; lemon bars, lemon cheesecake, lemon pudding, lemon whipped cream ...

Now, one of my favorite lemon recipes that isn't creamy is lemon poppy seed muffins. Those things are incredible. So I decided to take those flavors and textures and try them in cheesecake. I had also been wanting to try Sally's recipe for a while so it worked out perfectly.


These are cheesecake in bar form and have all the decadence of cheesecake without the guilt. (I'm just using that as an expression because I really don't believe in associating guilt with food. And I personally love cheesecake, no matter what:)

So here we go!  You start with the crust. I added some poppy seeds to the crust and they give it extra texture and crunch. 

Then, for the cheesecake, I used the combination of Greek yogurt and cream cheese and then stirred in the egg whites, flour, and sugar. There is two doses of lemon; the juice and zest. Next time you go to the store, go ahead and get a whole lemon. You'll get more than enough fresh juice and zest from one lemon for these. You could just double this and use the whole lemon. You'll be needing another pan, trust me.  

Tangy would be my word to describe these (after mouthwatering!)  The Greek yogurt and lemon add all the sour tanginess and the sugar cuts that and adds sweetness (and there is only a half cup used; not bad for lemon cheesecake

The poppy seeds add a little texture and pop of color.  I wasn't sure they would be good in cheesecake, but they fit right in with the lemon. Lemon and poppy seeds work so well together, no matter where they are. These bars are proof. 

Oh, one thing about these: you have to let them sit for at least four hours in the fridge.  That is the only downside to this recipe.  Patience, oh patience!

If I had to pick an all time favorite ingredient, Greek yogurt would be up there.  It is protein packed, doesn't leave me bloated or stomach achy, is smooth, creamy, and oh so versatile.  Give it to me for breakfast, snack - now dessert. And now it is deliciously disguised in one of my all time favorite desserts. My lemon cravings are satisfied and I can have these as a post volleyball snack.  Well, maybe that's pushing it ...
Side note: I seriously ate a slice of this cheesecake after a volleyball practice - no joke. It was absolutely amazing and I didn't get sick. I adore cheesecake. 

Skinny Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake Bars 
Recipe Source: The Sweet {Tooth} Life. Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction 

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs 
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 Tablespoon milk 
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

8 oz low fat cream cheese, softened 
3/4 cup Greek yogurt, nonfat plain 
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar 
2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour 
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lemon zest 
2 teaspoons poppy seeds 
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350. 
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. 
Stir until it pulls together. 
Press into a lightly greased 9x9 pan and bake for 8 minutes.
For the filling:
While the crust is baking, beat cream cheese, yogurt and egg whites together.
Add sugar and flour and stir.
Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and poppy seeds until combined.  Pour into crust (I didn't let mine cool all the way because I was running out of time) and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool before refrigerating for at least four hours.


  1. For some crazy reason I don't like cheesecake! I mean I love my sweets and I love cheese but for some reason I just can't get it to click. I do love lemon poppyseed though so maybe this will be the recipe that converts me!

  2. These look incredible, Mary Frances -- so creamy and delicious! Citrus just perks your taste buds right up, and I just love it. I think the idea of adding poppy seeds was a great idea!

    1. It really does! I hadn't baked with it in so long - my taste buds were needing it. Thanks Marcie!

  3. These look deliciously fresh, Mary Frances. I'm not the -biggest- fan of cheesecake, but I do find that a lemon flavour tends to mellow them out and make them a lot more tolerable. Ahh who am I kidding… I have such a sweet tooth that I probably wouldn't be able to turn down any kind of dessert :)

    1. Haha, that is me with cake; it isn't my favorite, but I really can't say no :) Thanks Amanda!

  4. These bars look amazing! I love lemon poppy anything.
    Pinning this!

    1. Your muffins were one of the things that got me in the lemon mood :) Thanks Abbie!

  5. I have been craving lemon lately too, or maybe I am just craving summer! Anyways, these cheesecake bars look incredibly creamy and amazing!

    1. "Craving summer -> that is probably pretty accurate!

  6. oh wow Mary Frances these look AWESOME!!! so creamy and I can almost taste the lemony flavor!! Your bars look really really yummy and I will definitely save this recipe!!
    xox Amy

  7. OMG. Talk about thick, creamy, sticky goodness. I'm eating all of these with my eyes right now D: I love the lemon and greek yogurt...You know how I looove my greek yogurt. But the lemon has a refreshing taste. These bars look and sound perfect, Mary Frances!


  8. Lemon and greek yogurt are totally two of my favorite ingredients ever! And you know how much I adore cheesecake hehehe. I can't wait to try these! They'd be a lovely post-run treat... I mean, extra protein is always awesome, right?? ;--)

  9. I love lemon infused desserts! And poppy seeds! This is like a dream come true Mary Frances! I can eat 2 slices instead of one! That's what skinny means to me! ;-) It's nice to hear someone else say they don't like to use the word guilt when it comes to food - I feel the same way and cringe every time I see someone describe food as "guilt" free.

  10. I have to be in the mood for a lemon dessert, but I'd definitely reach for these skinny treats! They look so so good and refreshing. :)
    Tina at www.tinaschic.com

  11. I am in love with this!! I want, I need!!!

  12. *pinned*!!!!! These look absolutely heavenly and they're combining three of my favorite things: poppy seeds, lemon, and cheesecake. Yum!

  13. Ok, am I missing something?!! The crust says 3/4 cub crushed Graham crackers plus milk, poppy seeds, and butter.. press it into a 9 by 9 pan..... I barely have enough crust for half of the pan. Is there a typo in the recipe?

    1. Hi Rebekah! It really is only 3/4 cup crumbs; I'm not sure why it isn't covering your whole pan. I wish I could help you more! I guess the best thing to do would double the crust so it fills your pan. I'm sorry it isn't working; let me know how it turns out!


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