Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram’s entrepreneurial spirit nurtures an appetite for raw and vegan foods

Photo courtesy of Christina Carrillo-Bucaram

When she was 16, Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram ’09 was diagnosed with hyperglycemia and Type 2 diabetes. Two years later, while at a grocery store, a customer approached her and suggested she opt for a raw-vegan diet. She did, and it changed her life.

“I am so grateful to the stranger who came into my life that day. It has been 12 years, and I haven’t eaten any cooked food since,” Carrillo-Bucaram said. The 30-year-old said she managed to reverse the medical condition and will never go back to her old eating habits.

At Rice, Carrillo-Bucaram studied kinesiology, visual arts and vocal performance. In response to a growing interest in eating organic vegetables, she and seven other students started Rawfully Organic, a small farmers market that met every week. The co-op grew and became a fixture in Houston’s organic food movement — hundreds of regular customers showed up weekly to purchase their shares of fruit and vegetables. After 11 years of continuous operation, the co-op closed last month.

“The things I did in college brought me in close contact with farmers,” she said. “I realized the importance of eating [fresh] food, but it was too expensive. That’s when I decided to start a cooperative.

But soon, Carrillo-Bucaram saw a greater need to support local and organic farmers, as well as to advocate for healthier diets. She created a Facebook page and started posting recipes.

To know if her mission or movement is working, one need only glimpse at Carrillo-Bucaram’s social media. Her Instagram feed offers her nearly 1 million followers a glimpse into her advocacy and life. Her YouTube channel has chalked up more than 85 million views. “My movement gathered steam when my social media [outlets] became popular,” she said. “I try to use it to educate people.”

But Carrillo-Bucaram’s own journey into the vegan world wasn’t easy. “My family had a hard time dealing with my transition. I was struggling to get their approval,” she said. For her, on the other hand, the process was smooth. “I started enjoying this new form of diet from the very beginning,” she said. “Even if you don’t want to go vegetarian, vegan or raw vegan, I tell everyone that eating one raw meal a day makes a big difference to your digestion, hair, skin and overall health.”

Last year, she published “The Fully Raw Diet: 21 Days to Better Health.” Her work takes her to speaking engagements across countries and continents. In recent months, she has traveled from Bali to Hawaii to Dubai and Lebanon.

“Some people think eating raw food is extreme,” Carrillo-Bucaram said. “But I think eating hamburgers and pizzas everyday is extreme. This planet needs a wake-up call of what we put into our bodies.”    

Here’s a raw twist on a classic Italian pasta dish.

Courtesy of Christina Carrillo-Bucaram

Recipe: Raw Fettuccine Alfredo

“Noodles”

4 to 6 zucchini, peeled

Sauce

1 large zucchini, unpeeled or peeled, as preferred

¼ to ½ cup pine nuts

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sprig of fresh basil and sage

For this recipe you will need a high speed blender, a serving bowl and a spiralizer. Peel the zucchini, cut off a piece of each end and put it through the largest blade on the spiralizer. The zucchini should resemble fettuccine strips. Place in serving dish.

For the alfredo sauce, blend the zucchini, pine nuts, lemon juice and herbs.

Mix the sauce into the noodles and serve.

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