Introducing Cristina Curp: Recipes inspired by Latin America and Spain
Here at Diet Doctor we are constantly looking for new ways to help inspire you on your low carb journey. Although one of the criticisms of a low carb diet is that it is too “restrictive”, we firmly believe that this is not the case. The several hundred delicious recipes we have on our site show that a low carb lifestyle can be not only nutritious but also indulgent and full of variety and flavor.
We are very excited to be working with several new recipe creators to add even more variety to the low carb options available to you. Since our mission is to make low carb simple for people everywhere, we will be offering more and more low carb recipes inspired by cuisine from around the world.
Cristina Maria Curp is an author, chef and founder of Castaway Kitchen. A Miami native with Cuban roots, Cristina has agreed to create low carb versions of traditional Latin American and Spanish dishes.
This is particularly exciting for us since, as you know, we launched our Spanish Diet Doctor site almost exactly one year ago. The site has gone from strength to strength and we are happy to now be able to include more recipes inspired by Spanish and Latin American food culture on Diet Doctor. Cristina is bilingual and her flavorsome recipes are available in both English and Spanish. Click the link below to take a look at Cristina’s recipes or read on to learn more about her!
View Cristina’s low carb recipes
Q&A with Cristina Curp
I had the chance to interview Cristina to find out more about her low carb story and what inspires her in the kitchen. Read on to find out more about our new Diet Doctor recipe creator!
Diet Doctor: What is your background working with food?
Cristina: Well, my Mom owns a restaurant so I always grew up around food, but I started off in a completely different profession. I have a degree in sociology and anthropology and I used to carry out research in that field. When I was in my 20’s, my Mom was expanding her business and asked me to take a week off work to help her open her new place. My sister was already involved in the business, too. I loved it, and around 8 or 9 years ago, I ended up working in the kitchen. I worked with a seasoned chef from Cuba who taught me everything I know in terms of working in a commercial kitchen.
I met my husband and we moved to San Diego. This was a big crossroads for me as I faced a critical decision: do I continue working with food or go back to research in sociology and anthropology? I ended up working on a food truck that ran on biodiesel and served healthy and environmentally friendly food options. I had no culinary degree so I started working part time, but within 3 months I was the executive chef! It was a fantastic period in my life. We used to travel around farmers markets, beach festivals and other food-related events. I was involved in planning the company’s strategy and worked directly with local farmers in San Diego, sometimes even running events on their farms. I really expanded my culinary horizon during that time, learning all about not just Cuban and Mexican but also Asian cuisine.
The food scene on the West Coast is light years ahead of my native Miami when it comes to health and wellness. I was right in the thick of it, immersed in the food revolution as it was happening. I ended up starting a popup called Blue Plate which involved several chefs from the movement.
I started getting involved in recipe creation after I had my first son. I needed to take a step back from the fast-paced and hectic scene I had been working in. This was a new challenge that I jumped into wholeheartedly. Making recipes for people to create is different from writing them for yourself as a chef. They need to be clear and concise, and replicable by other people. It was the start of a whole new journey into the world of healthy food and I have loved every step!
DD: What is your story with low carb?
Cristina: After I had my first son I became very sick due to hormonal imbalance and the stress of the pregnancy. I knew from my experience with the health and wellness movement I had participated in that what we put into our bodies is the key to health. I started to look into the topic of ancestral health. I found my way to keto through the paleo diet. I eliminated grains and started to play around and experiment with my diet to find what worked.
I would say that my approach is more paleo than keto because I believe food quality to be more important than macros, but keto in particular has been fantastic for me in terms of hormone balance and satiety. Prior to keto I had been overeating all the time: I never realized by how much until I finally felt satisfied by my meals.
DD: How did you get involved with low carb recipe creation?
Cristina: My husband is in the military and when our son was two years old, we moved to Hawaii. I felt a bit lost, as though I was lacking an identity. I had been dedicating my whole life to my baby, especially while we were weaning him. I realized that working on a project would motivate me, make me feel good and give me back my sense of independence.
I heard about the possibility of starting a food blog. This was a new idea to me and I was really excited. It was the perfect opportunity to start a new food-related project from anywhere in the world! The move to Hawaii was a tough one. We lived out of a hotel room for the first 2 months. It was a difficult transition. I started brainstorming the food blog from the hotel room.
In the beginning I was simply sharing food pictures online, later I got my own website. The blog started as a hobby, and for the first year and a half I didn’t monetize. But I gradually found my voice. I had healed myself through food and I wanted to help other people do the same. I learned food photography and I enjoyed implementing my sociology background through researching food and nutrition.
It became clear that I was spending so much time working on my project that I should make it into a business. I got a lot of advice from other bloggers, who were really helpful. I was paid to create my first 10 recipes and worked on Mark Sisson’s cookbook. I thought, “wow, I really can do this for a living!”. As a chef, rather than necessarily cook for people, I could design recipes for people to cook themselves. It was a big realization for me.
What’s more, last year I signed a book deal. This was a dream come true. As a restaurant chef, I had always wanted to write a cookbook. What I have realized is that being a chef doesn’t get you a book deal. But being a food blogger does! Ironically, when I signed the book deal I instantly received 3 offers from other publishers, but I decided to stick with Victory Belt, a publishing company I really admire, and I released my book Made Whole earlier this year.
I am now considering a book deal in Spanish, too. I get a great response from people who have met me in person or read my book. This is such a Latin thing: food is personal. It’s difficult to convince people to make a major dietary shift without a personal connection.
DD: You don’t include nightshades or dairy in your recipes. Why is this?
Cristina: In order to find out how different foods really affect me, I followed a strict elimination diet for 4 months. It involved eliminating all processed foods, sweeteners and foods that can have be allergens or have an inflammatory effect in humans.
After the 4 months were over, I tested individual foods to determine their effects on me. The biggest triggers for me are nightshades1, but dairy is an issue, too. I continued cooking with butter and ghee for a while but I realized they are linked to skin inflammation in my case.
DD: What is your inspiration when it comes to low carb recipe creation?
Cristina: What you eat can heal you.
This is such an obvious notion but nowadays it’s so hard to grasp. Our societies have been perverted by the food system and by a medical industry that prescribes drugs instead of addressing the root of the problem.
My passion for this is personal. This way of eating changed my life. When I was 29 years old I thought I wouldn’t live to 40. I felt like I was dying. When my mother was in her 50’s she couldn’t walk a mile because of inflammation and pain. Now she has reduced her rheumatoid arthritis on a keto diet without nightshades.
I wake up every day and feel the drive to do this because I know first-hand that this changes lives. It has changed my life and the lives of people close to me and I want as many people as possible to have the same opportunity.
Recipes from Cristina Curp
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More about Cristina Curp
A family of vegetables that includes tomatoes, peppers, okra, potatoes and aubergines. They are known to cause digestive discomfort in some people and can be problematic for people who suffer from an autoimmune condition. ↩