Zesty Coconut Cashew Lemon Bars

For my lemon lovers, here is my nutritious take on Lemon Bars! This bar recipe is made fully vegan and free of refined sugar, refined flours and gluten, but you won't notice because these are so tasty and lemony! I first made these for my Moms birthday near easter and they were a huge success! 

Crust Ingredients:

1/2 cup pitted dates, soaked in hot boiling water for 3-5 minutes and then drained
2 cups unsweetened dried (desiccated) coconut + 2-3 extra tbsp extra for topping
1/2 c almond meal (you can prepare your own by pulsing whole almonds into a coarse flour)
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp maple syrup or raw honey

Filling Ingredients:  

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest
2 cups drained soaked cashews (soaked in water 4 hours +, or over night)
1 can chilled coconut milk, use only the cream from the top, not the water (you can save this for something else if you like, I like to freeze it in ice cube trays and add to smoothies)
1/4 - 1/2 cup maple syrup or raw honey depending on how sweet you want to make these, I prefer less
2 tbsp arrowroot powder for thickening
1 tsp vanilla bean powder, or vanilla extract
optional: 3/4 tsp of turmeric powder for natural yellow food colouring

To Assemble: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees f,
1. Combine crust ingredients in a food processor, start with dates first, puree them until smooth, then add everything else
2. Press combined crust dough into a 9 by 9 or 12 by 12 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper
3. Bake for 10-12 minutes only until edges are slightly golden brown, cool completely (baking the crust is optional, however adds a nice toasted coconut flavour)

While the crust is baking / cooling, prepare the filling:
4. Puree all filling ingredients in a food processor or blender until very smooth
5. Pour filling over crust, only once it has cooled completely
6. Top with extra lemon zest and shredded coconut, refrigerate for a few hours or over night to set (the filling will thicken during this time)
7. Cut your creation into 12 - 16 square slices, share with loved ones and enjoy! 

* Store bars in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.