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(Not) Mom’s Apple Pie

Raw Apple CrispWhoever said “easy as pie” must have learned to roll a pie crust while still tied to their mother’s apron strings. For most of us, though, the perfect pie is an elusive kitchen feat. While I can boast of stealing the show of more than one Thanksgiving dinner with my golden, flaky crusted pies, I have to confess that I considered pie making to be a rather labor intensive, arduous chore, and one I only wanted to attempt once a year.

That was until I discovered raw pies. Not only are these unbaked desserts easy to master and a great conversation piece, they are also much healthier than the traditional pie (while still being a delicious way to end any feast). Raw apple readily accepts any personal touches you’d like to make. Don’t like ginger? Leave it out and put in vanilla instead. Out of oranges? Skip them, and add lemon zest or even a banana. Don’t be shy. It’s your kitchen, and there are no judges. Plus, with raw desserts, you can taste as you go. Yum! HSH

My go-to apple pie favorite is below and you can also try A Fresh Take on Apple Pie from our website,  which adds a twist with coconut. I also like this super simple, yet elegant Raw Apple Crisp. Since all the ingredients are unprocessed whole foods, you could make these desserts on a regular basis or have a piece for breakfast the next day—that is, if there are any leftovers.

(Not) Mom’s Apple Pie

Pecan Pie Crust

  • 2 c. pecans

  • 1 c. pitted dates

  • 1 t. cinnamon

  • Optional: pinch of salt

Soak dates in enough warm water* to cover until softened. Place pecans, cinnamon and salt, if using, in a food processor. Pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Remove nuts and place in a large bowl. (This is a good time to grind the walnuts for the pie filling, so you don’t have to wash your food processor multiple times.)

Drain dates, reserve water and place dates in a food processor. Blend dates, adding reserved water as needed to form a thick paste. Add to bowl and mix with pecans. Knead briefly until a soft, sticky “dough” forms that will hold its shape. Press evenly into a pie pan.

Trim off any excess “dough,” refrigerate, and use later as a topping on oatmeal or as a dessert bite.


  • 5 c. apples, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced; about 5-6 large apples

  • 1 c. pitted dates

  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested

  • 2 t. ground cinnamon

  • 1 t. ground cardamom

  • 1 t. ground clove

  • 1 t. freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1 c. walnuts

Soak dates in enough warm water* to cover, until softened. Place walnuts in a food processor and pulse until chopped; set aside. Thinly slice apples, toss with lemon juice and zest. Drain dates and reserve soaking water.

Place dates and spices in a food processor and blend, adding soaking water as needed until blended into a paste. Add to apples and toss by hand until apples are coated with date mixture. Add walnuts as needed to achieve desired consistency. Filling should be thick and able to hold its shape, rather than being watery or syrupy. Taste filling and adjust spices according to taste.

Arrange apple filling on top of pecan crust. Top with any leftover walnut pieces. Refrigerate at least an hour, or over night, and serve with cashew cream. *For a truly raw pie, use room temperature water and soak dates overnight.

Ginger Orange Cashew Cream

Better than a whipped cream substitute, this dairy free cream is a spoon licking addition to any autumn pie.

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 c. raw cashews

  • 1 ripe banana

  • 2 oranges, zested and juiced

  • 1 t. finely grated ginger

  • ½ t. cinnamon

  • 1 t. vanilla (optional)

Soak cashews in water to cover for 1 to 12 hours. Drain, discard soaking water, and place in a blender with ½ c. water, banana, orange juice, zest, and spices.

Blend until smooth, adding fresh water if needed so that cashews can be blended. Taste and adjust spices according to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Cream will thicken as it chills.

Got a favorite way to serve up raw apple desserts? I’d love to hear them!

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Dr Lathrop says …

The pie is delicious, but watch how much cardamom you use, also be sparing with the ginger in the cream.

Real Grubbin says …

I love raw desserts! I just did a raw carrot cake today: http://realgrubbin.com/desserts/raw-carrot-cake Last week, I made a raw cheesecake bars: http://realgrubbin.com/snacks/raw-cheesecake-bars Both came out excellent!

Adene says …

Pie crusts need not be difficult. Roll them out between two pices of waxed paper. Peel off one piece of waxed paper and put the crust (waxed-paper side up) on the pie plate. Adjust the crust and peel off the other piece of waxed paper. Trim. Do the same with the top crust. You will find it very easy to place the top crust on the pie with the remaining piece of waxed paper holding it together. This method allows you to make thin, flaky crusts without adding too much flour or handling the crust too much. It will cut your pie-making time significantly.

Lissa Anne Kamel says …

Every year I order my son's birthday cake from Wholefood La Jolla however this year I ordered it from Hillcrest. I must say that the young man who helped me place the order and made the cake provided an extraordinary service. He is very talented too. His name is Lavel (I hope I spelled it right). I am extremely pleased with teh taste and the decor of the cake. I requested an Elmo cake for my son. Lavel was extremely helpful, very detailed oriented and definately has taste for fine food and its presentation. Every one of the 26 birthday party guests asked us where we got the cake. They loved the taste and the pesentation. Thank you so much Lavel, we need more people with your talents. Lissa Anne Kamel

Mary says …

This sounds wonderful. We've been trying to go Primal, without much sugar, grains, etc., consuming lots of vegies and fruit, good meats, organic and grass fed. Was happy to see this recipe and will try it, if not next week, soon. I do plan to make the Cashew Cream though. I have a recipe for pumpkin pie w/o grain, using nuts and a little honey, eggs abd spices. Very yummy. I did want to share this recipe though. I imagine you could even serve it without thoroughly cooking the apples for some crunch, and maybe adding some nuts such as chopped walnuts. enjoy "Sweet Potatoes and Apples" 4 Large sweet potatoes, baked/ 4 tart cooking apples, pared and sliced. Spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter and salt. Peel sweet potatoes and cut in 1/2 in. slices. Arrange potatoes and apples in alternate layers in buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with spices. Dot with butter and season with salt, optional. Cover and bake at 350 for 30-35 min. Serves 4 to 6. Just found this recipe, I plan on using it. Sounds delicious. I am leaving out the sugar though. A well baked sweet potatoe is great on it's own pared with the right apple. Although, the red garnets arn't quite as sweet, more savory. I also have a recipe for Beets and Apple Salad, the beets are cooked and cooled. Raw apples here, along with some other ingredients. Hope some of you get to try this and enjoy.

Maria Cali says …

I love this recipe! Especially, the "Cashew Cream Sauce." Thanks, Mary!

sandi says …

I want to make this, but I don't like cardamom. Can I substitute something else?

says …

@Sandi Sure! Ginger is a great substitution for cardamom. If you're not in love with the flavor of ginger either, the other spices in the recipe are tasty enough to carry a good flavor even without a substitution.

sandi says …

OK, I made this today and it's wonderful. I found the cream needed to be a bit sweeter (I didn't juice the oranges; I used the whole oranges instead; maybe that accounts for the lack of sweetness.) Anyway, I added 2 date rolls to the cashew cream, and it was perfect. Thank you for this recipe.