There is not a day that goes by without an email asking about substitutions for ingredients (nuts, seeds and other substitutes) in my raw food recipes. Let’s start with nuts. Why do raw foodies use so many nuts? Because nuts are a healthier substitution for other unhealthy ingredients. Nuts are very versatile in raw food recipes. But when you want to substitute the nuts, you are actually asking to substitute the substitution. In some recipes, such as nut crusts, substituting one nut for another is not a big deal. It will not affect the final outcome. You can easily change pecans/walnuts/almonds/pistachios for walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios or macadamia nuts…Vice versa. It will change the taste of course, but it will still work.
Peanuts and other nuts are often substituted for cashews. However, it’s critical to substitute nuts in place of cashews only if you’re sure your allergy is limited to cashews. The cashew, along with almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and others, are tree nuts. People who are allergic to cashews are often allergic to other tree nuts. The peanut isn’t a tree nut, but is actually a type of legume that grows in the ground. Some people who are allergic to tree nuts are also allergic to peanuts (but not all people with peanut allergies are allergic to tree nuts). In addition, cashews and peanuts are sometimes processed at the same facility so the risk of cross-contamination is high between nuts.
Raw cheesecake is made entirely from uncooked whole foods with minimal processing and contains no cream cheese. Cashews are most commonly used in place of cream cheese, because they’re rich and have a smooth and creamy texture when blended. Although it can be hard to get exactly the same results when substituting another ingredient for these nuts, several foods offer a reasonable replacement. If you’re substituting cashews because you don’t have any to hand or you don’t like them, you can use an equal amount of any other nut in their place. Those with a high fat content give the most similar, creamy results.
Substitute for raw cashews: pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, soaked sunflower seeds, sunflower seeds and tahini (sesame seed butter), combination of zucchini and pine or macadamia nuts could work particularly well. Silken tofu can replace cashews effectively. The flesh of young coconuts (for non-raw version full-fat coconut milk from the can) offers another great alternative too. Also, hemp seeds are a great substitute for a lot of creamy nuts.
Nut or seed butters also is an excellent substitute. The secret to making recipes that call for raw cashews when you don’t have a high-speed blender is a good quality nut or seed butter. When subbing raw cashew butter for example, use half the measurement of whole nuts called for in the recipe. This means, if the recipe calls for one cup of whole raw cashews – you would use ½ cup of the butter.
Seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds have a similar flavor and texture, making them a good substitute in recipes calling for cashews. Seeds are especially effective if the recipe calls for cashew butter. Make your own butter by blending seeds with a dash of salt and if desired, add a bit of coconut oil to make it creamier. Use pumpkin, sunflower seeds or a combination of both. For an even nuttier flavor, add a small amount of hemp or sesame seeds.
Coconut flour – Almond flour or any other nut flour
for thickening try Tapioca starch or Arrowroot powder
Coconut nectar – Molasses, Date or Raisins paste
Cacao butter – Coconut butter
(in cakes) Coconut oil – Creamed coconut
Coconut milk – Cashew, Hemp or Sesame seed milk
full-fat Coconut milk from the can – Cashew or Macadamia cream
(blend thoroughly: 1 cup nut with 1/2 cup filtered water)
White miso – Nutritional yeast
Zucchini – Turnip
Shallots – Onion
Flax seed oil – Olive oil
Coconut oil – Unroasted sesame oil
Flax seed – Buckwheat
Just beware, you cannot substitute 1 to 1! You might need to use less/more of the amounts than directed in the recipes.