June 29, 2013

A Life of Pie: Raw, Vegan & Gluten Free. ~ Jessie Monds

I come from a long line of women who bake, on the sides of both my mother and father, and it is written in my DNA the ability to make a perfect pie crust.

Of all the seasons, summer provides the most thrilling fruit choices for making pies, cobblers, crisps, and fruit tarts.

Like a dog that sheds its winter fur, I am drawn at a deep molecular level to transform ordinary blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and peaches into their greatest potential—the fruit version of Samadhi, integrated bliss a la mode.

But then there is this voice (do you know this voice?), this annoying voice reminding me that gluten is bad, dairy is bad and sugar is the worst!

Just like that, an evolution, and the spell is broken.

This is the suffering that blooms from awareness; for once we see the truth, the universe does not let us so easily forget.

It all works out, though, because of some cosmic law about doors and windows. When one oven closes, a refrigerator is open. Space is created for a new pie, a healthy pie, a pie made from nuts, coconut, natural sweeteners and fruit.

Summer Fruit Pie: Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free

Perhaps you dabble in the world of raw food preparation, or have heard about it and are interested but intimidated. This recipe is easy to make, and completely delicious.  It is a great recipe whether you are a raw food pro or someone new to the raw food frontier.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

1 cup raw unsalted macadamia nuts

1/2 cup raw pecans

1/2 cup flaked coconut

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (not raw)

pinch of sea salt

1 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked in purified water for 4-5 hours and drained

1/2 cup fresh coconut water or almond milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, or agave, to taste

zest and juice from 1 lemon or lime

1/4 cup coconut oil

pinch of salt

Let’s begin with the crust. (You will need a food processor.)

The crust is a combination of macadamia nuts, pecans, coconut, and salt. Place them in a processor and pulse about 10-15 times, until everything is mostly broken up.

Then you’ll add a few tablespoons of melted coconut oil, one tablespoon of a liquid sweetener (honey, maple syrup, or agave) and some vanilla extract to make it smell like something baked. Simply pulse everything together until the nuts are all about the same small size, probably only five to ten more pulses.

(Note: You don’t want to over process and release the oil from the nuts or else the crust will be greasy.)

When the nuts are perfectly ground it gives the crumbly illusion of a graham cracker crust. Once the crust is made, place it in a pie pan, tart pan, or spring-form pan, something around 8-9 inches will work, and press it evenly around the sides, corners, and bottom of the pan. Refrigerate. The cold air of the refrigerator will cool the coconut oil and hold the crust in place.

Now for the filling…

The base of the filling is cashews, and you’ll want to soak them for 4-5 hours, so plan accordingly. This will significantly plump and soften the hard nut, making it easier to blend into a liquid.

You can use either coconut water or almond milk for the liquid in the filling. If you want to be completely raw, find a young Thai coconut from the grocery store. Whole Foods usually carries them. For almond milk, to go completely raw, make homemade almond milk. Otherwise, store-bought versions will do.

They are pasteurized, which is heating to above 117, so will not be technically raw, but if you’re not a die-hard, it will still taste good.

A high-speed blender works best, but a regular blender will work as well. Monitor the temperature of the liquid in the blender. If it reaches beyond 117 degrees the dessert is no longer technically raw. Still good, but some nutrients and enzymes might be lost from overheating.

Once everything is blended, add the melted coconut oil. The coconut oil again will firm up when cold and make the filling hold its shape when you cut a slice. It will appear too runny when you pour it in the shell, but the refrigeration will allow the filling to become luxuriously custard-like.

Once firm, you can decorate the top with any fruit or berries you have around. In the photo above, I used white nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, and cherries. Since you’re not baking the berries or adding any additional sugar, try and find the ripest fruit possible.

The better the ingredients, the better the results.

It looks like a pie, it tastes good like a pie, it is faster and easier to make than a pie, but it’s not your grandmother’s pie. Enjoy!


Jessie Monds is a chef and yoga instructor in Dallas, TX.  Growing up in the Pacific Northwest she was around healthy, fresh produce and always put a lot of thought into what she was eating.  Sometimes too much thought.  She dealt with a negative self image and various eating disorders as a teenager. As part of building a healthy relationship with food she enrolled in culinary school and spent several years working as a private chef, providing healthy meals for families in Dallas.  In 2010, she enrolled in a 200-hour yoga certification course. She soon realized part of her service to the world was to share what she has learned through a lifetime of studying food, cooking, and nutrition, and shares her recipes on her website. She recently received her 500-hour certification and when not cooking, teaching or practicing yoga, Jessie is playing with the love of her life, her sweet border collie Daisy. 


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Assistant Ed: Paula Carrasquillo/Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Image provided by the author.}

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