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Raw Journal

I started this journal in hopes that my life could help or inspire someone else. Enjoy!


Fulfillment of a Dream!


Vibrant Living Expo Pie Contest 2007


black mulberry


I've always wanted to enter the raw food pie contest ever since I attended the first raw food pie contest in 2003 that was held in Oregon at the International Raw Foods Festival. Since then the pie contest has moved to the Vibrant Living Expo at the Living Light Raw Food Culinary Institute in Fort Bragg, California. I was especially motivated to do it when my then boyfriend took 2nd place in 2004. To view past raw food pie contests click this link: Past Raw Food Pie Contests


I also wanted to challenge myself to see if I could make a pie with only whole ingredients like no oils or agave nectar and truly raw ingredients. I only used 2 ingredients that didn't fit my criteria and there was only a very small amount of them in the pie. The criteria for the pie contest was that all entries had to be raw and vegan. Not even honey was allowed. Even though it is called a raw pie contest, any raw food cake, tart, or pie was fine. Entries were judged on taste, texture, presentation, and originality by a panel of raw food chef's and long term raw foodists. This year Paul Nisson, Elaina Love, Sergi Boutenko, and Cheria Soria were all on the panel of judges among others.


mulberry bush

Mulberry Tree

I was very nervous because I don't necessarily consider myself a gourmet chef or anything. I like to think of myself as the home cooking raw foodist cause the recipes I make are simple and taste good and have allowed me to be on a mostly raw path for almost 6 years. I've never taken any culinary classes or anything so I didn't really know how my pie would stand up to the others.


My other concern was that I was making this pie miles away from my home in a hotel! I didn't even have a vitamix or champ blender and had to take all the ingredients on a 3 hour car ride in a cooler. I tend to be super creative so I just kinda made up the pie as I went along and didn't have a practice run or anything! I don't recommend that, if there is a next time, I will for sure practice the pie before the competition.






Mulberry Bush?

first layer of pie

1st Layer

Anyways because of the above mentioned criteria I had for my pie and my concerns about not being ultra gourmet I knew I had to have the best quality and most fresh ingredients. My friend tipped me off on the fact that there was a mulberry tree (not a bush) growing not to far from where I live. So I spent one afternoon picking the mulberries from the tree and have the stained jeans to prove it! The mulberries were purple and tasted like berry cool aid from what I remember as a kid. A very unique taste. They don't taste anything like the white mulberries which I think taste more like vanilla. Then I used the white dried mulberries for the crust, raw Hawaiian macadamia nuts, organic sun dried vanilla, farmer's market dates and strawberries, thai young coconuts, fresh stevia leaf and a little of the stevia liquid. This pie wasn't cheap but because it was a contest I spared no expense; I'm sure it can be modified for people on a budget. It also was very time consuming but like I said, it was a contest, I'm sure you can just use one layer instead of three if you make it at home and it will still taste great. If you want some similar yet easier pie recipes check out my vanilla bean recipe booklet.


2nd layer of pie

2nd Layer

Here is the recipe:


Berry Sweet Mulberry Strawberry Tart
by Cecilia Benjumea


Macadamia Mulberry Crust

1 cup macadamias
1 cup dried coconut ( I used the Mexican white or tan coconut meat that was shredded and dehydrated at a low temp)
1/2 cup dried white mulberries
1 cup pitted dates


With the S blade in my food processor I processed the dates and mulberries separately until they were well blended. Then I processed the coconut and mac nuts until the mac nuts were processed into medium small bits. Then I processed both mixtures and stopped the food processor just before the mixture balled up. Then I pressed it into a tart pan that was lined with saran wrap or you could oil it with coconut oil so it doesn't stick. I refrigerated the crust overnight or you can do it for a few hours so that it sets.


3rd layer of pie

Final Layer


1st Layer

Strawberry Pudding

2 cups strawberries tops removed
2 cups freeze dried strawberries (can used dried if don't have freeze dried)
3/4 cups pitted dates
1 tablespoon pysllium powder
Stevia leaves or liquid or other raw sweetener to taste
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean


I blended the pysllium and the freeze dried strawberries separately into a powder in a blender. Then I blended the fresh strawberries, dates, stevia, and vanilla in the blender. Then I added the freeze dried strawberry pysllium mixture to the strawberry date mixture and blended it some more. Then I put the smooth strawberry pudding mixture into the refrigerator to set for at least an hour.


finished pie with edible flowers

Finishing Touches

2nd layer

Vanilla Cream

1 cup young coconut meat
1 cup raw macadamia nuts soaked overnight in water. Rinse before using.
1 cup pitted dates soaked in 1 cup coconut water
1/4 cup coconut water (or enough to thin while blending)
1 vanilla bean, seeds scooped out
Stevia leaf or liquid or other raw sweetener to taste

I soaked 1 cup pitted dates in coconut water overnight or you could do it for a few hours until the dates are soft Then I blended all the above ingredients together (including the coconut water that the dates were soaked in) in a blender and let the mixture set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.


All the pies in the contest

All 5 Pies

3rd Layer

Mulberry Cream

1 cup Mulberries (Can use blackberries if mulberries are not available)
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup young coconut meat
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1 vanilla bean, seeds scooped out
Stevia leaf or liquid or other raw sweetener to taste


I blended all the ingredients in the blender until smooth and let the mixture set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.


Assembly of Pie


4 pints of strawberries thinly sliced
Edible Flowers
Mint Leaves




judging the pies

Judgement Time

As you can see from the pictures on the left I added the 1st layer of filling and then I added a layer of the thinly sliced strawberries. Then I added the 2nd layer and then a layer of the thinly sliced strawberries. Finally I spread on the 3rd layer of filling and garnished the pie with a design of mint leaves, strawberries, and flowers. It's best for the pie to be in the freezer for at least three hours before serving, if not it gets kinda goopy, if I could do it again I would add a thickener that Cherie Soria told me about called Irish Moss.


Final Judgement


The pie was kinda goopy especially out at room temperature while judging, but to my surprise my pie actually took 3rd place and it was auctioned off for 100 dollars by Michael Saber the owner of E3 Live! I was really surprised my goopy pie won third; I think it won solely on taste. I hate to brag but the pie was heavenly:) The crust was the best crust that I ever made and the creamy berriness just melted in your mouth. I don't eat many raw desserts because I'm a stickler for food combining but I admit that after one bite of my pie I was actually craving for more:) I guess using ultra fresh high quality ingredients really paid off:)


the pie contestants


My congratulations go to all the participants in the contest. All the pies looked amazing and I know how much hard work and dedication it took to make them. It was a lot of stress for me to go to the festival and make the pie but in the end I'm so glad I did it. It was the fulfillment of a dream I've had for a long time and I conquered my fears by trying to do something challenging for me. I want to personally thank my guy for all his support and encouragement. I couldn't have done it without him!


I also want to thank the Living Light Raw Foods Culinary School for putting on such a great event. Here are more pictures of this year's pie contest:


Hope you enjoyed my pie story!


Cherie Soria and I 

Cherie Soria

2nd place Black Forest Pie 

Black Forest Pie 2nd Place

Honrable Mention Pie 

Chai Masala Pie

Honarable Mention Pie 

Cherry Delight

Winning Pie 

1st Place Pie




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