by: Tania Lopez (owner and creator)
I am the proud Latina mother of three; a boy, a girl and a frog.
My son and daughter are the light of my life and the frog…well that is an interesting story.
Growing up Puerto Rican, I grew to appreciate our love affair with food. The way we were raised in my family and community, meant that the first thing you would ask someone coming over to visit was, “What would you like to eat?” or “Did you eat something?” Somehow we knew that eating led to conversation, bonding, and sharing time with family and friends.
As I became an adult and had two children of my own, I began to miss the food I grew up eating and what it brought to our lives. We live life at an ever-increasing pace, which means that having time to relax or just to enjoy each other’s company has become increasingly rare.
Meanwhile, many of my Latino friends and family were complaining about their weight, diabetes, heart problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and more. I too, found myself dealing with health issues such as anemia and low energy. I looked at how our kitchens and dinner tables had changed; now they were stocked with pre-made, “quick and easy” processed food. Where were the fresh ingredients? Where were the homemade meals? Where was the quality time spent cooking, setting the table, enjoying the meal and then cleaning up together?
Processed food is a big contribution to our health problems but it is also our connection with fresh ingredients: fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, etc. We’ve forgotten their value. We’ve stopped giving them the respect and love they deserve.
In this modern stressful world we forget to relax, we forget to enjoy and we forget that good food gives us the opportunity to do both.
I grew tired of hearing about obesity, diabetes and other life threatening health issues taking lives. I got to the point where I realized I no longer wanted health issues to control me or my loved ones, so I decided to look into food instead of relying on western medicine to “fix” us. My exploration led me on a journey…a journey into a different world: one that acknowledges the wonders of food.
The journey took me back to my roots, “Taino Roots.” Tainos had a love and respect for food, the body and the environment; basically, it is a holistic approach to eating. The concept of eating consciously and harmoniously for our bodies and the environment intrigued me. I saw its potential to heal and knew I needed to tap this wisdom to help myself and others.
The kitchen is a magical place and with the right ingredients, it is fully equipped to make life’s most precious meal. So much comes from our food. Besides the nutrition food provides, our mood when we cook it, and the time we take to feed ourselves and others all affect our health and what food gives us. If it is good, it enhances our lives, if not, then it takes life from us.
Cooking healthy and enjoying quality mealtimes can fit into a busy life. TV shows like those on the Food Network feature ways we can cook a healthy natural meal in just 30 minutes to an hour. And with the time we save, we can enjoy the meal and each other longer!
Just the simple act of chewing thoroughly can aid digestion and absorption of nutrients. However most of us barely chew our food. By not chewing thoroughly, we contribute to the development of health problems. Digestion begins at the mouth and the stomach finishes the rest. By not taking time to chew the stomach does all the work, making a person sluggish. When we eat the Tainos way, we remember to relax, to chew slowly, and to savor. Not just our food, but also each other.
Soon after I returned to my roots, I met artist extraordinaire James Sherman. We had a small project to create a character which was Coqui The Chef. The actual project that sparked the creation of Coqui didn’t take off, but Coqui The Chef was born! I became the mother of a cartoon frog! I incorporated the cartoon of Coqui for my idea and explained to James how I would like to use Coqui The Chef to help others, to understand about natural ways of leading a healthy lifestyle. James was fascinated by the idea. As soon as he agreed to continue to help me fulfill my vision of bringing Coqui The Chef to life, I started promoting him through Twitter and Blogging. At the time, both were a hobby. Little did I know that my hobby would grow to become something beyond my wildest dreams. Coqui The Chef is my pride and joy. More importantly, he inspires me to live a healthy, nourishing life.
Coqui The Chef, not only speaks about healthy eating and nutritional awareness; he is here to remind us that food is more than something we eat; it creates and defines us…most of all it connects us.
Coqui The Chef is a loving coqui dressed in a chef’s outfit, a mascot to the Puerto Rican people. A lover of food and the world! Ready to help you eat healthy and love cooking!!
You can check out his recipes and cook books at http://coquithechef.com
“Like” his Facebook page and join in the fun with cooking tips, health advice, some laughter, and meet people from all over the world. http://facebook.com/coquithechef