Best Ever Pumpkin Bars (low FODMAP + gluten free)

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Hello and happy Fall from the great state of Maine!

Russ and I have been hunkering down at our cottage in lower coastal Maine for the last 5 months. It’s been so lovely exploring coastal Maine on the weekends. I have had more lobster rolls this summer than any time in my entire life. Not a bad gig. The New England foliage has been spectacular this year!

In keeping with the fall weather theme, I found some canned pumpkin and decided to make a delicious pumpkin bar with a layer of cream cheese and crumb topping. These are decadent and so delicious.

Let’s talk about cream cheese and the low FODMAP diet.  The FODMAP in question in cheese made from cow’s milk is lactose. Lactose is in the ‘wet’ part of milk–so hard + aged cheeses have no lactose and softer cheeses have a little bit more–but not much. Monash U -the pioneers in the low FODMAP diet have deemed 1 or more grams of lactose in a food as a cut-off level–considered high FODMAP. In my opinion, this is a very strict cut off –as most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate much more per sitting–some up to 4 grams or more. That being said, I kept the cream cheese amount in the recipe within the Monash U low FODMAP guidelines–which allows 2 tablespoons of cream cheese per serving. This recipe makes 12 servings–and I included 8 serving size portions of cream cheese. Stick to one bar per sitting (and you are very much within the guidelines a low FODMAP diet). As a friendly reminder, don’t over-restrict your diet unnecessarily.

Here’s the deliciousness for your viewing pleasure.

On to the the recipe!


29 replies on “Best Ever Pumpkin Bars (low FODMAP + gluten free)

  • Rhiannon

    Great to hear from you once again, Kate. Any suggestions for sub for dairy in this recipe? (I’m allergic to both).

  • Laury Hunt

    I’m excited to try this. I sometimes feel left out of the Fall baking circuit; especially like hearing about how we can use cream cheese and pumpkin.

    Also are there any of the protein powders/meal replacement powders that you recommend for taste and effectiveness if I wanted to occasionally use for smoothy or pick me up? I know Monash has been testing but find promo material confusing sometimes.

    • katescarlata

      Hi Laury, yes the pumpkin and cream cheese are low FODMAP if you stick to one bar per serving–the recipe makes 12 servings. For protein powders, I have a few listed in my smoothie handout here.

  • Peggy

    These sound great but, as a pre-diabetic, how can these be modified to replace some of the sugar? Also, my doctor told me to decrease sugar intake because of IBS, SUBO and microscopic colitis.

    • katescarlata

      Hi Peggy–I might opt to delete the crumble topping and reduce the sugar in the cream cheese layer to 2 tablespoons OR opt for a pumpkin style bread recipe vs this type of bar for a lower sugar treat.

  • Albertina

    I love everything related to pumpkin and this looks easy to make and yummy. I’ll double the recipe and make a large batch of pumpkin bars and share it with my neighbors. I’m sure they’ll enjoy it and thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • Amanda

    I have all these ingredients except cloves and ginger. Would it still be good if I omit these? Or should I make the trek to the store. Thanks!

  • Terri

    I am new to your site, however, I wanted to say that I found a lactose free cream cheese at Sprouts grocery.

    Also, I use xylitol and coconut sugar to try to keep sugar and calories lower. I noticed questions regarding sugar, and you didn’t mention those as options. Is there a reason why?

    Thank you for your time, recipes, and effort!

    • katescarlata

      Yes, there is lactose free cream cheese–but it might require a little tweaking to the recipe to ensure it isn’t too wet–it works a bit differently. And, the amount of lactose in the per serving amount is less than a gram –so is compliant for the low FODMAP diet. Xylitol is a FODMAP–so I don’t recommend it. And coconut sugar has moderate FODMAPs in just 2 teaspoons–so hard to include in a dessert recipe.

      • katescarlata

        Hi Peggy, you are welcome to share what you are learning with others. Monk fruit has not been tested for FODMAP content as far as I know. So not sure I would recommend it. Erythritol, although a sugar alcoho,l does not seem to be malabsorbed to the degree of other FODMAPs–so may be tolerated in IBS. In new celiac disease patients–interestingly, erythritol is poorly absorbed. So–tolerance can be individual.

  • Jeanne

    I was hoping this recipe would be healthy. Dairy (cream cheese) is the worst food for the human body. Also, olive oil is necessary. These could be so much better for people’s health.

    • katescarlata

      Thanks for sharing your opinion, Jeanne. I believe that treats and sweets provide enjoyment and pleasure–key to mental health. While I don’t recommend we eat dessert at every meal–good nutrition is not about one ingredient nor should food ingredients be verbalized in a manner as “worst” or “best” –My opinion is the overall eating patterns play the greatest role in health outcomes.

  • Laury Hunt

    Kate, I followed your recipe exactly but found I needed to cook my batch longer. Even then, the consistency was more like a crumble (pudding like) than a bar but very tasty. In fact my husband in particular loved scooping several sections out when it was warm and adding whipped cream (he doesn’t have any digestion problems 🙂
    I refrigerated the remainder and everything firmed up overnight. It makes a lovely treat when chilled, though I might reduce the total white sugar in the crumble. Thank you for the treat.

    • katescarlata

      Thanks for the feedback. You can definitely reduce the sugar in the crumble–but I would reduce the butter along with it a bit so you a good fat to dry ingredient ratio too. I will add a comment to check with a cake taster–as different ovens can vary in cooking times. It does need to be cooled a bit too for best consistency.

  • Peggy

    I made this delicious bar. I decreased the sugar by about half and of that half I did sugar and monk fruit in equal portions. I made the crumble with 2 T. of GF flour and the rest rolled oats. I baked it as the recipe says. If came out perfect! My husband and I ate it warm and it held together, but not as firmly as it does after refrigeration. I would to attach a picture, but I don’t know how to do that.

  • Peggy

    I miss bread and the GF breads are expensive and I have only found one (Trader Joe’s Multigrain Brown Rice ) that doesn’t have anything bad in it.
    I saw a recipe for GF Low FODMAP bread that looked good but it had a couple tablespoons of Vital Wheat Gluten. Is this considered Low FODMAP? I’ve never heard of it before.

    • katescarlata

      Vital wheat gluten –is the protein part of wheat. FODMAPs are the carbohydrate part. So…gluten is Low FODMAP. It is added to breads to enhance texture. Gluten is like “glue” –adds elasticity to bread.

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