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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Holiday Baking for Special Diets: Delicious Delights from Lancaster Bakers


The holidays bring many tastes and dietary needs to the same table. Whether simple, old-fashioned and pure, gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan, the recipes in this collection offer scrumptious options for any meal. Enjoy new approaches to the traditional pleasure and comfort of a warm kitchen filled with sweet and spicy holiday aromas.

Christmas Meringues

Submitted by Betsey Gerstein Sterenfeld, owner of Essen recreational cooking school

Yields 6 servings


7 large egg whites

¾ tsp cream of tartar

1½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 tsp distilled white vinegar

½ tsp red gel food color


1 cup pomegranate juice

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp orange blossom water

1 pomegranate, seeded


2 cups chilled heavy cream

Preheat oven to 275° F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar in mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to medium-high, then gradually add granulated sugar one tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat one minute more. Fold in vanilla and vinegar.

Use one spoon to scoop up a large puff of meringue mixture and another spoon to place it onto prepared pan, creating mounds approximately four inches wide and two inches tall. Repeat with remaining batter to make six mounds. Redistribute batter among the mounds if necessary. Twirl spoon around perimeter of meringue and finish each with a spiky peak.

Bake until meringues are dry to the touch and have a crisp crust, about one hour. Turn off oven and allow meringues to cool in oven, between two hours and overnight. Carefully peel off parchment. (Make-ahead note: Individually wrapped meringues can be stored at room temperature for a couple of days, or up to one month if frozen. To use, thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature for at least two hours.)

For the syrup, place pomegranate juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer until thick and glossy, about 20 minutes. Add orange blossom water. Allow to cool and set aside.

For the filling, beat heavy cream until it holds soft peaks.

To assemble and serve, carefully place meringues on serving platter and top each with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Eat soon after assembling.

Essen is a Lancaster-based, recreational cooking school, founded in 2006 by Betsey Gerstein Sterenfeld. For more information, call 717-391-8270 or visit


Delightfully Pure Gluten-Free, Multigrain Bread Mix

Submitted by Phyllis Weaver and Tammi Bauman, owners of Delightfully Pure

Yields one small loaf


1 package Delightfully Pure GF multigrain bread mix (at room temperature)

1 Tbsp active dry yeast

1½ cups warm water (110° F)

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Combine bread mix and yeast in mixer. Using paddle attachment, mix warm water, olive oil and apple cider vinegar into dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for two to three minutes, scraping down sides with spatula as necessary.

Place dough into an 8½-by-4½-inch bread pan. Let rise in warm place until dough is level with top of pan (approximately 40 minutes). Bake at 350° F for 60 minutes. Cover with foil after 10 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.

Turn loaf out on wire rack to cool. Brush entire loaf with olive oil for softer crust. Let cool completely before slicing.

Delightfully Pure is an allergy-friendly, vegan bakeshop that uses the highest quality organic and natural ingredients, free of gluten, egg, dairy, soy, nut and casein. The shop also uses unrefined sugars, except for icing, which is made from organic powdered sugar. For more information, visit


Coconut Breads for Sensitive Folks

Submitted by Bev Martin and Nancy Rohrer, owners of The Simply Ghee Kitchen (recipe adapted from Cooking with Coconut Flour, by Bruce Fife, ND)

Coconut is an excellent source of health-promoting dietary fiber. The following recipe is free from gluten, grains and sugars and can be adapted to create a variety of muffin or bread-like desserts. The breads can also be frozen.*

Yields 6 muffins or one small loaf


3 eggs (local and free-range)

2 Tbsp Simply Ghee, melted

2 Tbsp coconut milk

3 Tbsp raw, mild honey (such as clover)

¼ tsp unrefined salt (such as Celtic)

¼ tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ cup sifted coconut flour, plus 1 tsp for dusting pan

¼ tsp baking powder**

Generous pinch of baking soda

Bring all ingredients to room temperature before mixing. Ghee should be melted, but not too hot. In one bowl, blend the eggs, ghee, coconut milk, raw honey, salt, pinch of baking soda and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift the coconut flour and baking powder; mix well. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there are no lumps.

Grease a small bread pan or muffin tins with ghee, dust with sifted coconut flour and then fill the pan two-thirds full.

Bake at 375° F for 15 minutes. Insert toothpick or knife to check for doneness in the center. If bread or muffins are still moist in the center, keep in oven and continue testing every few minutes until the knife comes out clean. Note: Honey will brown faster than sugar, so if a more golden finish is preferred, cover with foil for the first half of cooking time.

Serve warm topped with homemade whipping cream or ghee, butter or honey—be creative.

Variations: See below and add the noted ingredients to the basic recipe. For all variations, follow baking instructions for the basic recipe.

Pumpkin Spice

¼ cup mashed pumpkin

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin spice

¼ tsp pure vanilla extract (in addition to basic recipe)

1 Tbsp raw honey (in addition to basic recipe)

Sprinkle cinnamon on top before placing in oven. Bake at 375° F for 20 minutes or until the inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.

Walnut Raisin

½ cup raisins

⅓ cup chopped walnuts

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Fold into mixture after blending the wet and dry ingredients. Bake at 375° F for 15 minutes or until the inserted toothpick or knife is clean.

Lemon Poppy Seed

Omit vanilla

Add 3 tsp fresh lemon zest and 1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Mix both ingredients into the wet mixture. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top before placing in oven. Test for sweetness and add more honey by the teaspoon until desired sweetness is achieved.

*If freezing, thaw in the refrigerator, due to high egg content. Place in a preheated 250° F oven for 20 minutes or until warmed to taste.

**Regular baking powder contains cornstarch, which includes grain and gluten. It is easy to make at home by mixing together one part organic, aluminum-free baking powder plus two parts cream of tartar and two parts arrowroot.

Simply Ghee, made from sweet cream, unsalted, organic butter sourced locally from Lancaster County pasture-fed cows, is a premium alternative to butter and cooking oils. To learn more, email [email protected] or visit

Holiday Sugar Cookies

Submitted by Gwen Eberly, children’s cooking camp teacher

Yields 2 to 3 dozen cookies


1 cup unsalted organic butter (at room temperature)

1 cup organic brown sugar

1 large, cage-free organic egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2⅔ cup unbleached flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg and blend into butter mixture. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for one minute.

Shape dough into two-and-a-half-inch-thick discs. Wrap and chill for at least three hours or up to one day. Let dough soften slightly and roll out on lightly floured surface. Use any cookie-cutter shape preferred, cut out cookies and transfer them to a baking sheet.

Bake at 350° F until lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully. Let cool five minutes before transferring cookies to rack; cool completely, then decorate with favorite frosting recipe or use the one below.

Gwen’s Snowflake Cookie Frosting

Yields enough to frost 2 to 3 dozen cookies


4½ cups powdered sugar

2 Tbsp powdered egg whites

6 Tbsp water

Whisk ingredients together to desired consistency. Grab the pastry bags and kids and have fun decorating.

Gwen Eberly is a self-taught local cook and art teacher who currently teaches grades one through eight at The New School of Lancaster. She also caters small events and teaches cooking and art camps for kids.