There is not a day that goes by without an email in my box asking about substitutions for ingredients in my raw food recipes. It seems that there are a lot of nut allergies, gluten allergies, or just people who don’t like a particular ingredient. Some people can’t get certain ingredients. What ever the reason, it is a constant issue without a clear cut answer.
Let’s start with nuts. Why do we use so many nuts? Because nuts are a healthier substitution for other more unhealthy ingredients such as butter and flour. We grind nuts to make flour and soak and blend them for beautiful cream sauces. They make fabulous nut-milks. 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 interchange pecans for walnuts, or almonds for macadamia nuts. It will change the taste, of course, but it will still work.
In other applications, substituting is not so straight forward. Cashews are used a lot for their consistency and mild taste and can’t easily be substituted by another nut. You simply won’t get the same results in consistency or taste.
Creating recipes is a bit of a science project. I strive for balance between taste and texture. When you work at refining a recipe, every ingredient exists in an inter-dependent relationship with the others. Meaning, change one ingredient, and you change how everything relates to each other. So, substitutions are just not that easy. Without completely remaking a recipe, and working through each substitution, seeing how it affects the other ingredients and the final outcome, it is a question that is not easily answered.
I would suggest that if you have an aversion to something, whether it be nuts, or grains, experiment! If you have success, I would love to hear about it!
A note on young coconuts I have tried reconstituting dried coconut to substitute for young coconut without success. Dried coconut comes from mature coconuts and has a completely different texture.