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Top 5 Guilt-Free Restaurants

When it comes to the weekend the first thing you want to do is relax and go eat with your friends, family or significant other. You immediately think about your diet. You mentally begin to cancel many restaurants out and are left with nowhere to go. Here is the thing — you do not have to do that each time you want to socialize.

Let me guide you to restaurants I have found over the years to be a healthier alternative to your usual burger spot or Italian restaurants. Yes, you still have to make sacrifices when you want to stick to your diet, but there are many restaurants out there that are good for you and you are still going to enjoy. Whether you are vegan or not, here are five guilt-free restaurants.

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Urban Plates serves delicious-nutritious food that you can enjoy guilt-free. Photo by me.

The first restaurant on the list is Urban Plates. A plate that includes grilled albacore, roasted rosemary potatoes, tomato mozzarella salad and complimentary rustic bread slice is 600 calories. Urban Plates serves balanced meals, which means each customizable plate you order includes a protein, a carb and a vegetable. You can order any protein from salmon to chicken breast to steak and fish. The same goes for carbohydrates and vegetables that are seasonal and change every few months.

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Tender Greens has a wide variety of food its menu, so it is easy to choose an amazing meal. Photo by me.

Next on the list is Tender Greens. A plate with salt and pepper chicken, sprouted rice and a complimentary small salad is approximately 580 calories. Like Urban Plates, the plates are also customizable balanced meals.

Fresh Griller serves wraps, bowls and salads filled with colorful ingredients to ensure you are eating your required intake of vegetables. For instance a steak wrap with no sauces is 350 calories. Most of the items on the menu are approximately below 600 calories, which is great when you are sticking to your diet.

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Café Gratitude accommodate food allergies. Simply let your server know your allergy.  Photo by me.

For those of you who are vegans or vegetarians, one of my favorite places to go is Café Gratitude. One bowl of Indian curry is 250 calories. Cafe Gratitude has a seasonal menu that ranges from bowls to wraps to salads to vegetable shots and natural smoothies.

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Veggie Grill serves vegan and vegetarian options. Photo by me. 

Another great vegan option is Veggie Grill. A quinoa veggie burger is 580 calories. The burger is filled with cilantro pesto, vegan mayonnaise, arugula and vegan cheese. Veggie Grill has healthy and unhealthy options, but the healthy options include healthy re-creations of buffalo wings, burgers and nachos.

You can stop worrying when it comes to eating out and enjoy your night out with your friends or on your dates.

 

Top 3 Healthy Chick-fil-A Choices

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Chick-fil- A has become one of the most popular fast -food chain. Photo by me.

When it comes to fast-food McDonalds, In-N-Out and Jack in the Box are out of the question because the new popular fast-food chain is Chick-fil-A. If you are holding on tight to your progress, you find eating healthily at a fast-food spot difficult, but eating healthily at a fast-food spot is not difficult.

When you are eating at Chick-fil-A you should remind yourself to limit your sauce consumption and to avoid fried items such as the fried chicken sandwich and waffle fries, but this does not mean you have to stick to salads. Here are the three healthiest choices at Chick-fil-A that do not include salads.

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Grilled chicken cool wrap is filled with lettuce, carrots, grilled chicken and a sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese. Photo by me.

The grilled chicken cool wrap is 350 calories per wrap, but these calories do not include the dressing.

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The grilled chicken sandwich includes lettuce, tomato, grilled chicken and no spread. Photo by me.

The grilled chicken sandwich is 310 calories without any of Chick-fil-A popular sauces. This sandwich is a healthier choice than the bacon and cheese version, grilled chicken club sandwich that is 440 calories.

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The grilled nuggets are seasoned with salt, pepper and spices. To avoid eating the sauces, add hot sauce to the nuggets. Photo by me.

If you love chicken nuggets, Chick-fil-A has a grilled version that is 210 calories for 12-piece order.

Instead of consuming all your calories in the sauces and fries, eat your meal with hot sauce and order a soup or fresh fruit on the side. This allows you to track your calories guilt-free and enjoy your day out with your friends.  

 

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.

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.   

 

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.