Finally, the coconut has been reinstated to its rightful place in the food chain. CocoParadise is bringing its sexy back through delicious products served with a side of education.
There once was a time when the coconut was accused of being a saturated fat villain for too long but the tropical fruit has since been vindicated. This simple everyday food source is now touted as a powerful super food and has multitudes of international celebrity aficionados quaffing coconut water, coconut oil, coconut snacks, and so much more.
The fuss surrounding coconuts comes from its fats that boost fat burning. What? Eating fat helps you to burn fat? Yes, it’s true. It specifically targets that dreaded abdominal fat, raises good HDL cholesterol, strengthens the immune system and provides your body and brain with quick energy. How is that done? It’s the medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) of the coconut that does the heavy lifting of burning fat, reducing inflammation, and preventing diseases.
For those who don’t enjoy dousing their food and coffee with tablespoons of coconut oil but still want to reap the benefits, there’s an even better way to enjoy coconut – snacks. Research has looked at cultures that have benefited from eating coconut as part of their native diets and noted that the whole coconut was used, including the meat and the cream. Meaning, eating coconut snacks is actually far healthier and more holistic.
CocoParadise, a taste of the idyllic
CocoParadise specialises in snacks that are coconut based and are all gluten, dairy, and free of refined sugar, which you can get in their e-store or in a few locations, like coffee shops and healthy grocery stores, around Hong Kong. Its founder and chef Valerie Chiu has always been obsessed with coconuts. “I was born in Thailand, so coconuts were always a big part of my life. I love everything coconuts,” she said. ‘It keeps me full and satisfied.”
Her bestselling flavour is coconut honey cashews and they’re a healthy twist on salted caramel. Her other best-selling product was a happy accident created when she accidentally put raspberry powder into a blender with peanut butter.
“I shared it with my family, and they liked it. It’s a healthy version of peanut butter jelly. I also try to make my snacks gluten-free, wholesome and all natural. I don’t add preservatives.”
A not-so-happy Christmas present
When looking at Valerie with her awesome physique and glowing skin, it’s hard to believe that she was an overweight teenager who ate processed food, fried food, junk food, and drank a lot of alcohol while studying design at Central St Martin’s in London. Then one fateful Christmas, she did a health check together with her family and had a terrible health scare.
“The doctor warned me that I had a fatty liver and was overweight. I was shocked and really scared. I’m very afraid of needles and doctors, so was determined and focused on losing weight. Immediately I boiled all my food and did lose weight, but it wasn’t sustainable because I like sweet foods and didn’t enjoy that extreme diet. It lasted only three months.”
A moment of enlightenment
“I ran a lot to lose weight fast, but then I hit a plateau. Then I met a trainer who changed my life by teaching me how to use weights. He also opened me to the world of nutrition and looking at what’s sustainable for me. I ate gluten and dairy free, and also avoided refined sugar. I used to be super groggy, lazy, tired and could not wake up early so I’d skip classes and lectures. I had bad acne, was 155 cm and weighed 68 kg. After becoming more aware of what was better for my body, being more active, and the benefits of having more natural and whole foods, it changed my life and I was able to find a better and happier self that I never even knew existed. I felt more energised, worked faster, finished assignments early, was more positive and become happier.”
Transitioning to CocoParadise
“Hong Kong is not as advanced as the UK. I couldn’t find anything I wanted to eat that satisfied me, so I started making my own treats with coconuts. I shared them with friends at the cafe where I worked out. I made coconut bars for their launch party and was surprised that people actually wanted to buy them. Then I started getting orders for wedding favours and baby showers.”
Today, she believes that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring and that spirit carries over to her brand.
“I want to share how the right food has saved me and changed my life. I don’t believe in dieting. There’s no need to eat boiled chicken all year round, it’s more effective to eat what you love to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Hopefully by sharing my passion, my story and what I learnt throughout my journey it would help inspire others. I’m here to prove that eating healthier doesn’t have to be hard or boring and everyone can do it.”
Her future looks better, brighter and more sustainable, too.
“One of my goals is to make the packaging completely eco-friendly and biodegradable, and for all the ingredients to be vegan. Through this journey, I learned it’s about getting back up after each failure, being persistent, being hopeful and not being afraid of going for what you want. I think you’ll regret it if you don’t try.”