Your whole food, plant-based life.

My Least Favorite Comments and Questions

Ok…I realize that I am going out on a limb here and hopefully I won’t offend anyone. First, let me say that I am very grateful to all of you who come here for healthy inspiration, information and recipes. I am grateful for all your lovely comments and wonderful e-mails. But, there are a few questions that I seem to get daily, and every time they show up in my inbox, I cringe. Mostly because there just isn’t a good answer. But sometimes it is just simply frustration. The following is an example. The names are changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Esmerelda (actually, that is me. I probably didn’t need to change my name),

I recently tried your recipe for (insert recipe name here). I didn’t have ingredient x so I substituted with ingredient y. Oh, and I didn’t have ingredient p so I substituted with ingredient q. And, by the way, I don’t have a dehydrator so I just baked them at 350 in my oven (or used a low temp with the door ajar).

I am not sure why, but this recipe didn’t taste good. Also, the texture doesn’t look the same as in your picture. I am dissapointed and will not be making this again!


Mrs. Whatisrawanyway

Then there are the two evil step-sister questions: I don’t like (or am allergic to) x. What can I substitute? And…I don’t have a dehydrator, how I make these in the oven?

First, I will address substitutions.

While I understand and sympathize with people who have allergies and taste adversions, and I would guess there are some things that could potentially work as substitutions, I simply don’t have time to experiment with different ingredients in each recipe to see how it will turn out.

Recipe development is a tricky thing. I carefully balance every flavor and texture with all the other flavors and textures present. I take this to an extreme because I want the final recipe to be delicious beyond words. If I change just one little ingredient, it changes the whole recipe, requiring re-testing and rebalancing. Every ingredient used has it’s own personality, flavor and effect on all the other ingredients. It can be a delicate dance to get them all to work together in the most pleasing way. I take great pride in what I do and want your results to be the best.

Since I don’t know how substituting one ingredient is going to effect all the other ingredients, I can’t guarantee how it will taste and that is why I don’t offer substitutions. I do encourage you to experiment and see what you can come up with.

Second, the nasty little oven question.

Ok, here’s the deal. This is a raw food site. When preparing raw food, the food temperature never goes above 115 degrees even though some recipes start at 145. (If you want more information about that, read this: Dehydration Basics. ) Why? because we want to maintain the integrity of the nutrients of the food. The food temp has to stay under 115 to accomplish that. I only use a dehydrator for raw recipes. I don’t test the recipes in the oven.

Using an oven has two potential problems. Even at the lowest temperature with the door propped open, you normally can not regulate the temperature to keep the food raw. Second, ovens and dehydrators work very differently.

A dehydrator is a small box with a big fan and vents in the front. TONS of air move through the dehydrator during the dehydration process. You simply can not replicate that with an oven.  Even a convection oven is a big box with a small fan. It moves air but doesn’t come close to functioning like a dehydrator. That said, the two are not inter-changeable. I can’t offer instructions on how to make my raw recipes in an oven. If you don’t care if it is raw and want to experiment, I encourage you to do so.  Just don’t be surprised if you get different results than shown in the pictures.

Oh, and one little hint. We are dehydrating, not deep frying. The recipes simply will not have the same texture. But they will still be great!

Ok, I got that one off my chest. I am working on a FAQ page and will be reposting this and many other questions that keep coming up.

A final note. While I am still trying to get to all your emails and comments, the incoming volume is becoming overwhelming. I never want to be one of those people who say, I can’t respond because I am too busy, or I get too much mail, etc. You can do me a huge favor by searching the site before you email (I would say 95% of the questions asked are already answered on the site), asking questions of the Facebook Page for Rawmazing here: Rawmazing FB Group or carefully reading the post before clicking on that send button. I will try to answer as many as I can but with our traffic levels nearing half a million hits a month, it is becoming a bit of a challenge.


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  1. Leanne wrote on May 14, 2014

    I love your recipes!! Keep up the great work and looking forward to more of your exciting creations:) :)) You just can’t please all , can you? ahahah

  2. Elizabeth wrote on August 16, 2013

    Hi Susan, I am new to this site. I do like raw foods but have not tried your (amazing) variety as yet. Just wanted to comment on using the oven vs the dehydrator. My first trial was for my dog’s snacks – I did not have a dehydrator (then) so was instructed by the vet to heat my oven to 80 degrees and dehydrate the snacks overnight. For crispness I find this so much better (as I said … new to raw!!!).
    As for substituting … if I don’t have it, I don’t make it … quite simple really!

  3. Kelly Mac wrote on June 25, 2012

    Thanks for all the good info. I was wondering… On the coconut milk post — if i don’t have a coconut, do you think i could substitute a pumpkin? Wait… I’m kidding! Seriously, nice post, well said and I’m sure it felg great to get that out on the blog. Sometimes i read comments sounding like those above and cringe a little for you. And then I’m always so impressed with your grace in answering them. Thanks for great job with the blog, the recipes, the great ideas and the beautiful photos. I’m a fan!!

  4. Fianna MacGregor wrote on May 23, 2012

    Hi Susan
    This is not limited to raw foods, believe me. I have had about a dozen vegan cooking blogs over the years and the blame for substitutions has always fallen on me. I have an entire page devoted to it on my current blog. I’ve tried to write it with humor also but people still get defensive. I love your blog (just found it yesterday) and the photos are amazing. Here’s the link if you’re interested to see my discussion of this issue.

  5. Kimanh wrote on May 17, 2012

    Ok, so I’m late the party, but I just have to say, you post is hardly about the topic of being raw to me. As a blogging I get asked the silliest questions which can pretty much be answered with, “read the post properly,” or, “Google it yourself”!

    I love your little vent.

  6. Andri wrote on May 12, 2012

    Honestly, I believe a lot of what you’re encountering is people who want to be spoon-fed information instead of digging for it on their own. If I had a blog (and there’s a darn good reason I don’t), all the Q&A would have to be answered by my husband or someone “nice”. Because people are lazy and think everything should accommodate them. Or maybe that’s just my generation. Ugh.

    Anyway, I sympathize. I hope this post helped air out some of those negative emotions. I doubt it will do much for the questions but I liked what someone said in the comments about posting a disclaimer at the end of each recipe 😉


  7. ToEachTheirOwn wrote on April 20, 2012

    I must agree with ‘Hmmm.’

    I cringed with every response until I got to his/her feedback.

    And, Susan, you even went to the trouble to change names to ‘protect the innocent’.

    Really guys… why so smug?

    • Susan wrote on April 21, 2012

      It was written with a touch of humor. :-). Honestly, I do get a little frustrated when I get 20 emails a day asking me how to cook raw food in an oven. Not smug. Just wish people would dig a little deeper in the site to understand what it is all about.


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