Chef Kevin Curry on How to Stay Healthy in 2020
The Fit Men Cook author on sticking to New Year’s resolutions and discovering the soul of healthy food.
For years, Kevin Curry, a senior communications analyst at Dell, made countless plans, New Year’s resolutions, and very determined efforts to live a healthier life. Unfortunately, the Dallas-raised Curry was a huge fan of soul food and its abundance of rich flavors—but not the extra weight that came with it. Despite his attempts to, as he puts it, “out-train a poor diet” with intense exercise, he didn’t see the physical transformation he craved until he began to read up on nutrition. Curry started a blog on Tumblr, Fit Men Cook, to document and share his attempt to create healthier or plant-based versions of the flavors and dishes he loved. Think quinoa- and parmesan-crusted chicken nuggets, dark chocolate avocado bonbons, and lasagna made with sliced sweet potatoes instead of pasta.
After unexpectedly amassing hundreds of thousands of followers, Curry left his job to become a full-time fitness and health influencer, penning a book, Fit Men Cook, that became a New York Times bestseller. “It’s much more than a cookbook,” explains Curry. “It’s a road map to getting back to your best self.” Curry found transformation in his own life when he stopped associating healthy living with deprivation and bland, boring dishes. By swapping unhealthy ingredients for more wholesome options, and adding plenty of spices and flavor, he came up with recipes he looked forward to eating. He saw the weight come off and his confidence increase. Curry also created a wonderful community around food that he has found real connection with.
Curry understands firsthand how to make aspirations reality and to create real transformation, rather than just hopes and dreams. As we head into resolution season, Curry shares his tips on making changes stick and how to eat healthy—even in the Big D.
Dallas has been an important part of your life and your home since you were four. What do you love most about your city?
The quality of life and affordability. Also, Dallas is growing more diverse in terms of arts and culture, with a lot creativity around music and the arts. The best part is that since it’s in the South, you get that Southern warmth and openness.
You built Fit Men Cook around trying to eat healthier without losing the Southern flavor that you grew up loving. How is Dallas as a city for healthy eating?
An article came out recently that will blow people’s minds: PETA named Dallas as one of the top 10 cities for vegans. That is a testament to how the landscape is changing around food, how we are offering more options than just steakhouses and going beyond having everything deep-fried. As a city, we are broadening our understanding and expertise around food.
What are your favorite healthy spots in Dallas?
I love Mediterranean cuisines and I like to prioritize vegetables. Two of my go-to spots in Dallas are Uptown’s Roti Modern Mediterranean and the Lebanese restaurant Open Sesame in Oak Lawn. The food is always fantastic. For a quick grab-and-go meal, I like the poke craze that is sweeping the nation with fresh lean seafood plus cauliflower rice, mixed greens, or seaweed salad in a bowl. I love Malibu Poke, which has several locations. When I am chasing all of the nostalgia of growing up as a Southerner, I go to Vegan Food House in Oak Cliff for soul food. There are a lot of fried foods, but it is all plant-based. I’m not saying that everything there is healthy, but it is perfect for a treat.
What you are looking forward to for 2020?
One of the quotes that has been motivating me recently is, “Soon life catches up to us all, so do it anyway.” Follow those constant dreams that say what if. I have ziplocked large parts of my life waiting for that perfect moment and I am motivated to stop waiting. With my events, I’ve also had the opportunity to experience different destinations from a local’s point of view through my Fit Men Cook community. That means I get all the best tips on local restaurants and tourist-free hot spots, but it also means I get to experience a new perspective about a particular place, and therefore the world. I hope to keep adding to that picture in 2020.
What are your resolutions for 2020?
I want to find new ways to mix it up in my life. I love finding inspiration in unlikely places and I love experimenting and finding new ways to bring different flavor profiles together. Since fusion is becoming so important to me, I want to dedicate a lot of energy in 2020 to finding new and unconventional ways to create healthy recipes that you won’t find anywhere else.
So many people make resolutions around health but aren’t able to stick to those plans. What is your advice to them?
Don’t try to overhaul your life and make 85 different changes on January 1—it’s a recipe for disaster. You will have momentum and excitement from the New Year, but a few days later you don’t feel as enthusiastic, and it’s easy to slip back into bad habits. It’s better to focus on small, practical changes you can stick to, and then layer on additional small changes after that. When you start to see results you will build momentum and confidence. Then that enthusiasm will help you make the next change. All of a sudden, a few months later, you will realize you changed your entire life within six months and didn’t even realize it.
You have been very busy with your cookbook and website Fit Men Cook. What else are you working on?
One of the ways I found that people were actually struggling in the kitchen was knowing how to make healthy food taste good in a hurry without a lot of added fillers. The need to simplify cooking has been a constant theme for me. Many people like the idea of using spices and adding more flavor but don’t know how to put everything together. I wanted to help by creating six Spice Blends. They are designed to mix and match, are low-sodium, and really help elevate every meal.
To learn more about Kevin, visit his website, fitmencook.com.