Five Thanksgiving Essentials

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Thanksgiving is the best day to share a homemade meal and spend quality time with your family and friends. Photo by my brother, Edgar Morales

Thanksgiving is approaching, which for some is filled with excitement because it is his or her cheat day, but for others is excitement mixed with stress. Why do I say stress? Well, some of you  experience stress because you have to cook a three-course meal. I understand your stress completely since I am in charge to cook thee Thanksgiving dinner, which is a lot of pressure.

To help you de-stress a bit this Thanksgiving, I am going to tell you the five essentials everyone needs for any holiday dinner. These essentials are budget friendly, make the cleaning process quicker and versatile.

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These silicone baking mats can be used to bake desserts, roast vegetables, make stuffing, pan-sized cakes and roasting meats. Photo by me.

This first item is my holy grail because anyone who knows me knows I hate the cleanup afterward. It takes too long and I am really tired, so baking mats are my best friend. I buy mine at Costco because they sell three for 10 dollars, which isn’t too expensive. However, if you do not have a membership with Costco you can also find these mats here.

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The thermometer is also great for other meats like thick cut of steak, lamb, chicken, pork and any other thick cut meats. Photo by me.

This next item is crucial to making the turkey. The thermometer. Yes, a thermometer is crucial to making the turkey, trust me because I had to learn this the hard way by serving raw turkey to my guests a couple of years ago. The thermometer will help you avoid that mistake because you insert the thermometer into the turkey, once the turkey reaches the required temperature, your turkey is done. This also prevents serving dry turkey to your guests. I bought this new set at Costco for $20. It may sound like a lot for a thermometer, but this set comes with three different thermometers with a different purpose, which makes the purchase worth the money. Again, here is an alternative.

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Baking sheets are essential because it prevents the turkey from slipping out of your hands and prevents your oven from getting dirty by the turkey drippings. Photo by me.

A baking sheet with a cooling rack is another essential because these two are used for practically everything. You can bake desserts, cook your turkey, bake macaroni and cheese, roast vegetables and cool your desserts on the cooling rack. The list is endless. The cooling rack is so important because it prevents the bottom of your desserts from getting soggy, which is something no one wants. I bought mine at Costco, what can I say, I am obsessed with Costco.

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A hand mixer is great for making cookies. Photo by me.

The fourth Thanksgiving essential is a hand mixer. A hand mixer will help you make corn bread, turkey marinade, cookie batter, banana bread, pie filling and mashed potatoes. The hand mixer is also a cheaper alternative to a stand mixer, and it does the job well. This is the priciest item on the list, but I think it is worth the splurge.

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Cheaper baking pans can be found at Costco, Marshalls, Target, TJ Maxx and Ross. Photo by me.

The final essential is baking pans whether you buy loaf pan or the circular cake pan, these are essentials because you can use these for everything. You can bake cakes, loafs of bread, casseroles, baked pastas, pies, ice cream cakes and lasagnas. These are very versatile that you can make anything you want.

Do not be stressed Thanksgiving day, instead enjoy the day because nothing is better than cooking a homemade meal for your family and friends.

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Thanksgiving Don’ts

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Thanksgiving table filled with high-carb and cheesy goodness, but you should avoid to not ruin all your hard work. Photo by me.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means possible weight gain is right around the corner. The most testing times when you are on a diet is the holiday season, but there are tips to consider to avoid ruining your progress.

Even though portion control may help you stay on track, it is difficult when you are sitting at the table and see the warm buttermilk biscuits, baked macaroni and cheese and delicious homemade apple pie. Here are the top three things you should not eat to avoid gaining a pound.  

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Fresh biscuits right out of the oven can be hard to resist, but fill up your plate with vegetables to beat your temptation. Photo by me.

The fresh buttermilk biscuits are 212 calories per biscuit. If you eat one biscuit fresh out of the oven and another at the dinner table, you have eaten 424 calories.

The homemade macaroni and cheese is 461 calories per cup. This is one dish I highly recommend you to avoid because it is high in fats and carbs. A second serving is half of your required calories.

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One thing many cannot decline is dessert. One 1/8 slice of apple pie is approximately 296 calories, which in most cases we get double the serving size, so this high-carb dessert should also be avoided.

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One way to ensure you eat healthy Thanksgiving day is to make healthy side dishes like I did above. Photo by me.

This Thanksgiving ignore the high-carb food, make healthy choices and most important enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner because this day is all about family and friends.   

 

Halloween Cupcakes

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Photo by me.

Happy Halloween everyone! I want to share these Halloween cupcakes with you all. These cupcakes will be great to make with your kids, family or friends while you have a spooktacular movie night.

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I bought these cute Halloween cupcake liners at TJ Maxx. Photo by me

I used this chocolate cupcake recipe to make delicious, moist and fluffy chocolate goodness. A cupcake cannot go without frosting, so I found the perfect paring, a recipe for Sprinkle Cupcake’s vanilla buttercream! Let me warn you, you are going to have a sugar rush because the buttercream is a bit too sweet, but it is definitely worth it.

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Photo by me.

Staying Healthy at Six Flags Fright Fest

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Colossus is a ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Photo by my friend Melissa Montes.

The hardest part of going to an amusement park is to eat healthily, but this does not mean it is an impossible task.

I went to Six Flags Fright Fest over the weekend OK, I left before Fright Fest started because I get scared easily, but, during the time I was at the park I was prepared with snacks in my backpack that would help me stay away from the pretzels, greasy sandwiches, pizza, chips, ice cream and funnel cakes. I made sure I packed snacks to satisfy my sugar and salt cravings such as toasted nuts with dried cranberries, fruit, air-popped popcorn and hummus with baby carrots.

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You can pack any healthy snacks you want. Here I added a protein cookie and homemade granola. Photo by me.

If you have a sweet tooth, and you crave anything sweet while you are at an amusement park, I recommend you pack toasted nuts with dried cranberries that are approximately 197 calories for a cup of cashews and peanuts. The cranberries in the nut mix will satisfy your sweet tooth. You can snack on these throughout the day to keep you full until your meal.

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Any type of mixed nuts with a dried fruit will help you curb your sweet tooth. Photo by me.

If you have a nut allergy, another way to beat the sugar cravings is to pack a fruit salad. In a disposable food container, you can slice a cup of  peaches, plums and berries that is approximately 77 calories. The sweet fruit will steer you away from buying the fried funnel cake or ice cream from the snack carts.

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Fruit is another alternative to prevent you from eating an ice cream or funnel cake. Photo by me.

The large salty pretzels are hard to resist, but if you know you will be craving a pretzel, you can pack 1 cup of air-popped popcorn that is 31 calories. You can also pack up to three cups of air-popped popcorn because it is only 93 calories, which is lower than the large pretzel that is 483 calories.

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Air-pooped popcorn is a better alternative to a large salty pretzel. Photo by me.

One last snack idea to avoid the chip craving is to pack baby carrots and hummus because 10 baby carrots are approximately 35 calories and  ¼ cup of hummus is 89 calories. Hummus has more healthy benefits than chips, and the crunch of the carrots will satisfy the crunch of a chip.

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If you do not like carrots, you can swap the carrots for bell pepper. Photo by me.

Packing for a long day at the amusement park can be done in a healthy way, and making healthier choices will make you feel better when the day is over. Plus, none of those amusement park treats are worth the splurge when you have worked so hard to be healthy.

Ditch the large soft pretzel, pack your backpack with healthy snacks, scream your lungs out on all the rides and enjoy your non-guilty day with your friends or family.

Halloween Cheat Meal at Disneyland

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Halloween time at Disneyland is filled with amazing cheat treats. Photo by me.

It’s finally October known as Halloween month and the hardest task will be to stay on track with our diet, but this does not mean you can’t have a cheat meal once in a while.

My favorite place in October to have a cheat meal is Disneyland. During Halloween time at Disneyland there are so many treats that are hard to resist. From Mickey shaped pumpkin beignets to Minnie Mouse themed candy apples to Cruella De Vil brownies and Mickey shaped macarons. These treats are worth the indulgence.

If you really want to cheat on your diet, the Mickey pumpkin beignet is the perfect treat with approximately 290 calories for one beignet. One order comes with three, so if you eat the three beignets it is approximately 870 calories. These are decadent due to the pumpkin puree filling and sprinkled powdered sugar.

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Halloween candy apple is the second treat with the highest calories.  Photo by me.

The second treat with the highest calories is the Minnie Mouse themed candy apple with approximately 275 calories. This apple is coated in milk chocolate, halfway dipped with white chocolate that is rolled into purple sprinkles and orange fondant circles pasted on top of sprinkles. The ears are two chocolate-dipped marshmallows and topped with a chocolate molded purple witch hat and orange bow. The calories are high, so if you do not feel comfortable devouring the entire apple, you may share it or eat half and save the rest for later.

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The Cruella De Vil brownie and Mickey macaron are great choices for a cheat meal. Photo by me.

Cruella De Vil brownie is also a cheat meal because it is approximately 254 calories. This Halloween brownie is a fudgy brownie that is topped with white and black cream cheese buttercream. It is not too sweet, so if you do not have much of a sweet tooth this may be the choice for you.

However, the Mickey mummy macaron is a lighter choice with approximately 182 calories. It consists of two Mickey-shaped vanilla macarons coated in white chocolate. A cookies and cream frosting sandwiched between both macarons pours out as you take a bite.

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Halloween time at Disneyland is the best time of the year for cheat meals. Photo by my friend Valerie Rubio.

During this Halloween trip you may eat as much as you weigh, but do not worry because one day of guilty pleasures will not make you gain weight. Instead of feeling guilty, continue your day at the park because let’s face it with the amount of walking you do at the park you will burn those calories before you head back to your car.

Put on your Halloween Mickey ears, grab your candy apple, take photos with the enormous pumpkin in the middle of Main Street and enjoy your day because every diet deserves a break.

 

 

 

What to Avoid at a Sushi Restaurant

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Tempura vegetables should be avoided in order to not increase the total calories of your meal. Photo by my friend Melissa Montes.

Many consider sushi to be healthy eating. However, there are several items on the menu that should be avoided when you want to stay on track with your diet.

The list of things to avoid starts with fried appetizers such as dumplings, egg rolls served with a sweet sauce, tofu and jalapeño bombs filled with cream cheese. These appetizers are filled with calories that will fill up the required calorie intake before the actual meal.

The tempura rolls are 630 calories each six-piece roll. These carry the most calories and should be avoided because these are deep-fried rolls drizzled with teriyaki sauce and a special sauce. The tempura vegetables are also not a healthy choice because the carrots and zucchini are fried.

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The jumbo volcano tempura roll carry the most calories on the menu. Photo by me

Also, the rolls filled with fried shrimp, cream cheese and drizzled with any type of creamy sauce contain many calories. The spicy tuna roll is 380 calories for a six-piece roll. This roll is considered the healthiest by many people actually is not healthy because the spicy tuna mixture is filled with mayonnaise and hot sauce, which increase the calories drastically.

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The spicy tuna roll is not the healthiest roll at a sushi restaurant. Photo by me.

Next time during a sushi dinner make sure your meal does not sneak in calories into your diet.

 

 

 

Grocery Essentials

 

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Strawberries offers many benefits such as weight loss.

Hello everyone, it is Monday, which means it is time to go grocery shopping for the week.

Grocery shopping may be difficult, especially when the entire store is filled with fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and extra essentials overwhelming your entire trip  because there are so many options. To avoid being overwhelmed with the thought of grocery shopping,  I am going to recommend my go-to produce items I buy at the grocery store.

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Tofu, fruits and vegetables provide health benefits.

I always have berries, apples, grapes and pears in my fridge because the daily consumption of berries, apples and grapes actually reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Also, eating berries, apples and pears as a part of your everyday helps with weight loss.

Vegetables are a bit trickier because vegetables are not everyone’s favorite. However, vegetables have many benefits if incorporated into every meal. I recommend buying broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, eggplant and leeks. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale can protect against various cancers such as breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer. Eggplants are a good source of vitamins and help reduce high blood cholesterol. Also, incorporating leeks into your diet may reduce chronic diseases.

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Incorporating Vegetables into your daily meals will reduce many risks.

The meat section will depend on your diet, whether it is a vegan diet, vegetarian diet or not, the choices will vary. I like to have at least one meatless day in the week, so I will let you in on what I buy to stock up my fridge. If you are not vegan or vegetarian, I recommend chicken breast, salmon and lean turkey. If you are vegan, I recommend tofu and variety of beans such as garbanzo beans and lentils because tofu offers health benefits and beans provide a variety of micronutrients.

The same goes for dairy the products purchased will depend on the diet. If you are vegan or vegetarian, I recommend buying plant-based milk such as unsweetened almond milk or split pea milk because these types of milk also provide a source of protein and are great for those who are lactose intolerant. If you are not following a plant-based diet, I suggest buying lactose-free milk for those who are lactose intolerant and the lowest fat milk you can find to avoid extra fat in your diet.

The extras I believe are needed to make the food taste delicious are coriander, garlic and honey.

 

 

Photos by me