Hi! I am Carla and I am a raw vegan chef!
“What? So you only eat salads?” people ask, and I don’t blame them. That was my exact reaction back in 2007 when I got a phone call from my mother telling me she was only eating raw foods. I thought “EW! Why?”, little did I know that less than a year later I would completely fall in love with it and change my entire life.
It all started with my mother visiting me in California and making me a raw vegan Borscht (beet soup). While she mixed the ingredients I was curious and not very attracted to it. It turned out I ate 3 bowls of it and changed my perception on raw foods! So what exactly does eating raw entail? A raw food diet, or lifestyle as I prefer to call it, means eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, seaweed, that are unprocessed and not heated above 118•F to preserve the enzymes and nutrients. The food is eaten as close to nature provides as possible, and preferably organic.
My decision to change and test it myself did not happen until March 2008 when I wanted to lose a couple pounds and thought I would give it a shot. I planned a menu and prepared food for 7 days. All raw, all vegan, nothing packaged. Even though I was not very sure about what I was doing in the kitchen, I had fun and thoroughly enjoyed putting together these awesome recipes from the cookbooks I had. I felt very energized, slept better, was in a better mood! It was not hard to evolve into eating more and more raw foods as the more I did, the better I felt. Conversely, everytime I ate “normal” processed food, my body did not enjoy. Being raised by a nutritionist, healthy eating was always somewhat second nature to me. However, the concept of raw foods took it to another level. The concept of fighting or feeding disease started to make sense to me and I started feeding my body the best ingredients I could since we become what we eat. The more I learned and played in the kitchen, the more excited I got about this new lifestyle. It is amazing what one can create with such simple ingredients!
In 2012 a business came to fruition. At this time I was living in Brazil, studying Architecture and teaching English. My different way of eating sparked my friends’ interest since at the time it was not popular or trendy. Every time I brought food with me (which was just about every day) others wanted to try. The first product I sold was a grawnola, then added flax seed crackers and energy bars. Within a few months I had my products placed at a few small stores around town, had a booth at the organic farmers market, and sold to my classmates and coworkers. I also taught a few workshops so that I could spread the word on healthy eating.
A year later I moved to Florida and the business reality was different. For two years I tried doing the exact same as I was doing in Brazil: a booth at farmers markets and products at local stores. However, there was more competition and it was more challenging to thrive against bigger companies. One day I got hired to UNcook for a group of raw foodists and absolutely loved getting the feedback from everyone. When I moved to Fort Lauderdale I decided to quit my line of products and focus on teaching my UNcooking Classes.
Teaching others to change their lives and health through food has made me feel alive! I love sharing my passion and inspiring people to follow a more natural, healthy lifestyle independent of what their current diet is.
When it comes to food many people choose convenience over healthy choices. However, we can have both! Changing one’s eating habits is an emotional journey and each person has their own. It does not need to be an all or nothing decision. My goal is to teach that you can easily incorporate raw foods into your life and enjoy flavorful dishes that will love you back!
Photos by Rui Markos @talqualfilms
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