Protecting Heritage Through Food

Photo by Nicky Hedayat-Zadeh

Chef Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz’s mission to spread
Native American cuisine

By Megan Goodwin

Chef Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz has always been a healer and a
passionate advocate of Native American cuisine traditions.
She started studying holistic health in massage school, where
she got the opportunity to study herbs, adding to her ever-growing tool kit to help people better their lives both physically and mentally. She always believed that food was an essential piece of the human puzzle for a happy and healthy life.

Ruiz’s Background

Growing up, Cocotzin only ate traditional foods from her culture during special gatherings and functions. She has always felt connected to her heritage, and food has connected her to her ancestors in a whole new way. Since she was young, she was analytical enough to recognize that those TV dinners and the ready-made meals nuked in the microwave might not be the healthiest in the world. Now she wants to share knowledge of healthy eating by tapping into the traditional Native American diet that was nearly eradicated because of colonization and industrialization.

Looking at her Heritage

Chef Ruiz has been a restaurateur since 1998. When she sold her restaurant in 2010, she realized she had a platform to spread awareness to all types of people, including those in the Native American community. When she took a good look around the food community, she realized that there weren’t a whole lot of people who looked like her: brown and female. She took the opportunity to learn more about indigenous American foods. She looked to her heritage for clues on how to eat, cook, and live more richly and healthfully.

Ruiz Today

Today, Chef Ruiz has dedicated her life to helping people use food to restore their health, while simultaneously helping with spiritual healing. She is also passionately dedicated to teaching all Americans that, while we all grew up on fast food, that isn’t the true American food. She is an intense advocate for everyone’s right to have the opportunity to eat nutrient-dense foods, our true American diet. A healer at her core, Chef Ruiz’s passion is to help anyone that is in need of healing. To that end, she prepares nutrient-dense foods with vegetarian options, all in order to help people to eat healthier while simultaneously learning about Native American heritage.

When someone enjoys one of her dishes, her goal is not only to make them feel fueled, but to feel mentally and emotionally nourished as well, with dishes that look and smell fantastic, using indigenous ingredients prepared to reflect the landscape of the original America.

Chef Ruiz is a forerunner and advocate for the Native American community with a passion for reintroducing food origins to the United States. To learn more, visit her profile on Forks Over Knives at www.forksoverknives.com/contributors/felicia-cocotzin-ruiz/


Megan Goodwin just received her Masters of Arts in Creative Writing and Publishing from City University of London.

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