My Least Favorite Comments and Questions

by Susan on February 27, 2012

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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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Ronda February 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Hi Susan, you know I had to chuckle when I read your blog post today. I recall when I was first interested in raw foods, I would find myself looking for recipes that I could make using typical ingredients I was used to using in my every day life. I didn’t have a dehydrator and I probably was naive in thinking I could duplicate raw food recipes.

That was then…

Now I understand raw foods are exactly that. RAW and not cooked over a certain temperature. One of the things that really drew me to your site is you had all these fabulous recipes that to me, mimicked many of the familiar cooked ones I had been making all the years before. BUT the difference is yours are healthy, vibrant and I can honestly say (since I have made ton of them and own every book you ever published), delicious!

THANK YOU for sharing so much of you! I love your honestly. It’s truly refreshing. :)


Jean Luc February 27, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Susan, I’ve been following your work for nine months now and I’m inspired by your creative recipe development and talent for flavor balance. I’m sure if you are new to raw foods that it would be easy to think that there’s a simple way to create your recipes using short cuts like using an oven. The beauty of raw preparation is that it is pretty simple once you get the basics. A dehydrator is one of the essentials. I know not everyone can put that in their budget but, wow, when you do get one, it really makes all the difference.
Thanks for all of the delicious food you share with the community!


Raw Antonia February 28, 2012 at 12:01 am

Hi Susan, I would just add a couple of things: I usually start from the assumption that if someone is visiting a cooking/food preparation site, then they are interested in cooking/food preparation. That being said, they would not stop making food just because one recipe has gone wrong one time. Food preparation is a trail and error domain, especially when one does not adhere to the original recipe. God knows, i tried some things 4 or 5 times before i got them right. And some things i never get right, but i still try them out now and then. :p
Regarding the substitution part, you got me there. I’m pretty sure I asked about that once or twice, but given the popularity of this blog, i find it’s a great place to share ideas and sometimes other people will respond and provide valuable info from their own experiences with the recipe. I think it can be a good thing that we ask questions and share experiences when we try out recipes, but i do think a FAQ would be most welcoming, especially if the questions are getting overwhelming for you.
Love and hugs. :)


Serenity February 28, 2012 at 10:00 am

LOL!!!! If you want to be “Raw” you have to buy all the toys…..


Susan February 28, 2012 at 10:39 am

Actually, only if you want to do some of the more advanced recipes. There are tons of raw recipes that don’t require dehydration. But if they do….


Desiree February 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Oh my… Some people…. :) I really appreciate your posts and recipes!! Thank you for the inspiration! Keep up the great work!


Laura February 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Actually laughed out loud at this. Telling it like it is! I completely appreciate and love your recipes/advice on living raw and making raw recipes. I’ve had so much success with a lot of them. You rock :)


Dragonmamma/Naomi February 28, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Ha, ha. Alwyn Cosgrove is a trainer who deals with the same thing. People write to him saying stuff like “I did your 6-week muscle growth program and followed it exactly except that I can’t do pull-ups so I substituted running instead, and I only did it two days a week instead of four, but other than that I’ve done it exactly and I didn’t get any results. Your program stinks!”


Dot D. February 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I sympathize with the volume of respondants you have and coping with answering all of them. The best thing I did for myself this year was get me a Virtual Assistant who helps with my website, blog and FB pages so I can concentrate on my business.

Next, I very often experiment with recipes….raw and cooked….and if they don’t come out right….it’s MY OWN DARN FAULT! How can people blame you if they don’t follow your recipe exactly?? I’ve also changed some of your recipes to add or take away ingredients I want or don’t want. It still comes out fine.

I love your site and appreciate all the work you do to share your creations with us. Your food photographs are beautiful and make me drool…. I could just reach into the computer to grab a bite! Take heart in the knowledge that there are more of us out there that appreciate you, than those who don’t. ~~ <3 ~~


Elizabeth February 29, 2012 at 1:11 am

BY FAR THE BEST RAW FOOD BLOG in the blogosphere. I teach a weekly raw foods prep class at a preschool and search for recipes all the time. Your recipes are consistent and very good, unlike some of the more popular recipe books out there… Just made your crepes last week for the kids -mmmmm! And we always seem to have a batch coming out of the dehydrator at my house. I love you Susan! I am so grateful for your efforts, it’s apparent how much love you put into the recipes, the photos, and the blogging. Keep up the beautiful work. Mwuah!


Kimberly February 29, 2012 at 9:44 am

I am very impressed with your patience in these crazy questions! People raw food is Raw Food not cooked food, you need to change your whole way of thinking. You can’t change someone else reciepe and expect it to come out the way that it would how she has given it to you. Educate yourself before you try raw food. Wow… I am so upset with what I just read and can’t believe how stupid people can actually be!!!!!


Rebecca February 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm

You are so freakin’ awesome. Thank you for being straightforward and calling people on their silliness.


Nicola February 29, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I am so amazed you were able to wait this long before writing this post! I have admired your patience for a number of years with so many questions about substitutions. If you post recipes that contain things I am allergic to/intolerant of, I either try my own substitutions or just pick one of the other amazing recipes! I trust that if you know of a good substitution you will mention it in the recipe. Here’s hoping you get fewer questions of this nature x ps just about to order some ingredients to make your body butter, seriously cannot wait!


Susan February 29, 2012 at 8:53 pm

You guys are really making me smile! Thanks for all the wonderful comments.


Susan February 29, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Nicola…the body butter is addicting. You will LOVE it!


Eco Mama March 1, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Great post Susan. You made me laugh, and I’m impressed with the way you expressed yourself–good for you! Maybe you need to link this to your contact info. You are Kind and Fabulous and Appreciated.
Eco Mama


Ute March 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Hi Susan
You are a talented lady and I love you for your generousity of sharing so many of your creations.
It was high time you called on the new raw food wanna be’s, I always read your blog and learn a lot but some of those questions I marvel over your patience and elegance the way you answer them. Don’t give up you are our raw food guru and we look up to you for guidance ,
Thank you and
Lots of love


Ute March 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Ps I love your body butter , I added some coffe extract smells yummy ,any idea for a dry skin facial moisturizer?


Amanda March 3, 2012 at 9:55 pm

You are the best!! Love your honestly! This is a great post!!!


Mindy March 6, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Great post!!! It’s my pet peeve when people respond to online recipes about how much they loved a recipe, but changed x for y and p for r. How about reviews about THE RECIPE that was posted? Keep up the good work. We all love you!


Becky @ Pure Vitality March 11, 2012 at 7:48 am

You have an awesome site, Susan, and I refer clients to it all the time for delicious raw recipes that turn out great every time. A FAQ is a great way to handle this situation, and even a “disclaimer” at the end of each post that explains about substitutions could be helpful!

I am so glad your site is getting so popular. You are amazing, and I hope you are wildly successful in your business!


Alejandra March 12, 2012 at 11:37 am

Awesome Post, some people really have some nerve! ;p


Mary March 13, 2012 at 11:40 am

Even your complaint is gentle, entertaining and humorous! Love your recipes. I make ‘inspired changes’ to most recipes to suit my specific preferences and tastes and I find that is part of the fun of making new dishes. I call it ‘improving’ them, and sometimes it appears that it didn’t :-) I finally made your hazelnut, fig and sage crackers last week, and had delayed because I never seemed to have all of the ingredients on hand at the same time. I ate the hazelnuts by before I got around to making the crackers…. I used other nuts and didn’t have enough fresh sage so had to add some additional herbs. Nothing major – same basic recipe. It turned out wonderful. Thanks for sharing with us.

Is the body butter recipe in one of your books – and if so, which one? Sounds great!


Linda Gillette March 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm

My husband and I are adding as much raw as our time allows and I love your receipes and blog. I have noted that in many of your receipes you list substitutions that you know could be substituted. If nothing is listed I consider it a “try it at my own risk” receipe is I am not going to follow your receipe. As you said, this is a raw food website and many of your receipes do not require dehydration. Also, as I researched your site I found suggestions on how to use the oven if no dehydrator. Like any good carpenter who is not going to try and build a home without having the proper tools, having the right tools to prepare raw food is just as important. If you are going to dabble in raw then you don’t need all the tools but if you intend to make it a lifestyle then you certainly are going to want to make the investment in your health. Thank you for sharing all your wonderful receipes and creating a forum where we can share information.


Susan March 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Honestly, to be fair, it surprises me that you found something where I gave instructions on how to use an oven vs a dehydrator. Can you point that out as I don’t feel that the two can be used to accomplish the same end result especially if you want to keep it raw. Cheers!


Dragonmamma/Naomi March 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Oy vey! I was reading your new post (the strawberry thumbprint cookies) and see a few more of these questions! (Please don’t feel like you have to respond to this.)


Kristina March 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Hilarious! Not really – it’s kind of sad that people visit a raw food site and then make all kinds of crazy substitutions and then think YOU are leading them astray. I just happened upon your site yesterday and am so excited to start trying your recipes! Thanks for creating this website and posting what look to be delicious and easy recipes. I’m off to buy a food processor and ordering a dehydrator. Can’t wait to try the beet and kale chips.


Hmmm. April 11, 2012 at 8:44 am

People come to a site like this because they want to learn more. When I was new to raw, it was overwhelming and in my excitement to get it all ‘right’, I might have asked one of the annoying questions here there or somewhere else. Unfortunately some of the comments here, using the words ‘stupid’ and ‘silliness’ are exactly the sort of attitudes that do NOT inspire change or confidence.


ToEachTheirOwn April 20, 2012 at 10:36 pm

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 April 21, 2012 at 8:31 am

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.


Andri May 12, 2012 at 12:25 am

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 😉



Kimanh May 17, 2012 at 5:18 am

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.


Fianna MacGregor May 23, 2012 at 5:36 am

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.


Kelly Mac June 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm

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!!


Elizabeth August 16, 2013 at 2:47 am

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!


Leanne May 14, 2014 at 9:03 pm

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


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