Your whole food, plant-based life.

Raw Food: Ingredients and Substitutions


Recently, I made dinner for a friend. Not too unusual but I was in California, not Minnesota, in someone else’s kitchen and without my normal ingredients. Wanting to get dinner done fast, I made one of the recipes from the Rawmazing Transition book, Black Beans with Mango Avocado Pineapple Salsa and Lime Cream. The recipe calls for cooked black beans (it is a transitional recipe) and normally, I would soak my beans and cook them in a pressure cooker. I only had canned beans available so in a pinch I used them.

You wouldn’t think that using canned beans vs. using fresh would affect a recipe on a dramatic scale, but it did. It lost 50% of it’s flavor. I still used black beans but the difference in the texture and taste between fresh and canned was remarkable. It got me thinking, how often do you pay attention to the ingredients that are going into your carefully prepared meals? If you are going to take the time to make food, take the time to pick out the best ingredients.

Making sure fruit and veggies are ripe, nuts are fresh and all of the rest of the ingredients are at their peak will help guarantee that your dish tastes the best it can. It might take a little advanced planning but it is worth the effort.

When you have fruit or veggies that are ready to eat now, do a quick search on the site to find out what recipes have the ingredient you want to use. You can find the search box on the right side of the site near the top.

Substitutions: There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t get a request for substitutions. Nuts, flax, avocado, young thai coconut, grains, etc all seem to be things that someone has issues with. Substitution requests are frustrating because it isn’t as simple as one would think.

When I create a recipe, great care is taken when combining ingredients. I am looking for a balance between the flavors, textures and of course, visual appeal. Balance is very important because without it, you are not going to like what you have created. When an ingredient can’t be used, and a substitution is needed, it will throw off all of the other ingredients. So, if you are doing a substitution, you need to taste and be aware of how the new ingredient affects all of the other ingredients.

I wish I had time to recreate every recipe so that it would work for everyone but unfortunately, that isn’t possible. If you have had a success with substitutions, please share them in the comment section of the recipe.

One more note about gluten free. Since Rawmazing is a raw blog, not a gluten free blog, you will find some sprouted grains here. There are tons of recipes on the site that don’t have grains. Hopefully, everyone will find something they would love to try!


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  1. Stephanie wrote on September 9, 2011

    I love you’re website! I’ve been reading several recipes (all over the web) and found that cashews are used in a lot of them, especially for cheese. I have someone in the house that is allergic to peanuts and cashews and was wondering if anyone has a substitute for cashews.

    Thank you for all the great recipes and pictures, that really helps!

    • Susan wrote on September 9, 2011

      Macadamia nuts can be used in some situations but cashews are used mostly for the very smooth texture and slight flavor.

  2. Siobhan Landis wrote on August 30, 2011

    I really like your site – it’s got some great information on it, and your pictures really ARE terrific. Thanks for the advice about dried vs canned black beans – my family goes through a lot (LOT) of black beans, and I’ve always gone the lazy way by using canned. But recently I tried to recreate a recipe a friend made – she used dried, I used canned, and hers was SO MUCH better. Still, I figured I just did it wrong. Now, with you saying that it really does make a difference, I’ll tried dried (I’ve got a pressure cooker, so it won’t be that hard)

  3. Gt SkinnyGoVegan wrote on August 25, 2011

    Agreed. I find the original recipe is usually the best-but I find myself putting whatever nut I have! Since I don’t usually have 4 different nuts in the freezer!! And I especially do that with macademia nuts, as buying them at the store instead of mail order, is just pricey! I also use almonds over cashews often, even though I prefer raw cashews for the spreads/cheezes. But, I have an easier time finding a source of really raw, organic almonds that are less than 10 a pound than I do cashews.

  4. Laura-Jane the Rawtarian wrote on August 25, 2011

    Yes, flavors are so subtle! But at the end of the day sometimes substitutions are necessary. I tell a lot of people that when making nut-based recipes a lot of substitutions can work. True, it will change the flavors, but substituting also opens up a lot more opportunities. I mean, who can afford recipes that call for 2 cups of pine nuts? ;P

    • Susan wrote on August 25, 2011

      The interesting thing about nuts is that there are so many textures and flavors that they can differ dramatically. I agree, substitutions need to be made at times, what I am saying is be aware that you will be changing a whole recipe.

  5. Suzanne wrote on August 25, 2011

    I love that picture!


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