Behind the Scenes of The Search for the Weight Watchers Chef on ABC’s The Chew

TheChewTapingIn January 2005, weighing in at 231.6 pounds, I walked into a Weight Watchers meeting for the first time. I was 18 years old and finally decided that it was time to lose weight.

Although my weight loss journey has been pretty up-and-down ever since, I’m happy to be keeping most of that weight off now. And how do I do it? I have a combination of tools: my gastric bypass, learning to cook healthy and, of course, continuing to seek support at Weight Watchers meetings.

As I started to share more of my healthy eating adventures here and on Twitter, it seems that I struck a spark with Weight Watchers themselves. Thanking me for my devotion to the company and a healthier lifestyle in general, they surprised me with something that I considered pretty darn cool: an invitation to watch a taping of ABC’s The Chew as Weight Watchers hosted a competition to find the “Weight Watchers Chef”. So exciting! Continue reading

Healthy Papaya Breakfast Smoothie


One thing that I’ve definitely committed to doing more this year is having a healthy breakfast every day.

Years ago, I was never a breakfast person. As a teen, I got up too early to eat breakfast and would often have a very greasy school lunch (is it any wonder I was on the edge of being obese?). As a young adult, I would often sleep in and forget about breakfast all together, opting instead for an early lunch. But then when it came time to lose weight, I learned just how important breakfast really is.

Ever since then, I’ve been pretty good about breakfast–except that once in a while, I’ll seriously slip. And that’s what started happening a lot this past Fall. I got busy and started to forget to make breakfast. I’d run out of the house without anything, usually feeling okay at first. By 11 in the morning, though, I’d be ravenous. I would eat an early lunch, then be starving again by 4 p.m. A vicious cycle, isn’t it?

So this year I’m breaking that cycle and going back to my breakfast-loving ways. Of course, I started with a juicing 101 guide but then quickly moved on to my favorite new morning obsession: healthy Latin-inspired smoothies! The first was my avocado star breakfast smoothie, which was amazing. But now I’m sharing the next installment, which comes straight from my mami’s garden: the healthy breakfast papaya smoothie! Continue reading

Spicy Cuban Cheese Ball


For my annual Holiday party this year, I made a spicy cuban cheese ball inspired by Michelle Buffardi’s wonderful cookbook GREAT BALLS OF CHEESE. I’ve been dying to share it with you guys ever since, but the Holidays were busy and I just didn’t get the chance. But now I’m finally sharing–just in time for the Super Bowl!

It’s really hard to resist this one. My friend Justin of JustCookNYC first introduced me to the beauty of cheese balls, and they’ve officially become my favorite party food. In fact, I couldn’t wait to try making my own version for my party in December and you can bet that I’ll be making this again at a Super Bowl Party in a few weeks. I highly recommend you take my advice and try this one, too.  Continue reading

Avocado Star Breakfast Smoothie

HealthyLatinFood_AvocadoStarSmoothieAs I promised last week when I wrote about juicing 101, I recently made three delicious breakfast smoothies that I couldn’t wait to share with you all–and here’s the first! It’s what I am calling the avocado star breakfast smoothie, made with avocados, starfruit, Greek yogurt and key limes.

The two ingredients that I couldn’t wait to use for this one were the starfruit that my parents gifted me and the key limes that were actually straight from my mami’s garden. Then, of course, there was the addition of avocados.

This time last year, I came back from Christmas with a really nice Florida avocado–a different variety than the black-skinned Haas avocado. However, no such luck this time so instead I just bought a couple ripe avocados. They were the perfect way to complete this breakfast smoothie. And, to be honest, I really, really loved it. That’s why I’m sharing it first! Continue reading

5 Things Friday (Easy Weeknight Meals, Gymtimidation & More!)

fishkalesaladThis week was a very significant moment for me: a few days ago it was the five year anniversary of my gastric bypass. I can’t believe the crazy journey it has been, from losing 100 pounds to learning to eat new foods to getting a degree in health coaching to falling in love with cooking healthier.

Case in point: this week I went over to my friend’s apartment and made dinner. He absolutely loved the mahi-mahi and fresh kale salad with queso blanco that I prepared. I even lucked out because he happened to be in the mood for kale, so I definitely did good. The next thing on my list? Check out some healthy recipes and get to cooking more this year! Here are some ideas that I’m starting with, including a favorite new cookbook. Continue reading

Fresh Kale Salad with Queso Blanco


I fell in love with kale a few years ago.

Soon after I started my studies at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I took a few healthy cooking classes and somewhere along the way was introduced to kale. I can’t remember exactly how it happened but, all of a sudden, I was one of those crazy kale-worshipping nuts. And I’ve never been happier.

After I discovered nutritional powerhouse that is kale, I discovered caldo verde, a Portuguese soup made with sausage, potatoes and, of course, kale. I also started making sautéed kale and constantly adding it in my quinoa salads and pasta dishes. It was glorious. But I didn’t truly appreciate the full versatility of kale until I discovered how to make a fresh kale salad. Continue reading

Juicing 101: 5 Things You Need to Know

breakfastsmoothiesOver the holidays, I was lucky enough to get a Ninja Kitchen Blender to test out for work. Needless to say, I’ve become pretty obsessed with the thing. I came home from Christmas with fresh fruits and vegetables from my mom’s garden–and that’s when the magic truly began.

I started to read up on juicing, including Eric Helms’ new book The Juice Generation (with a foreword by Salma Hayek), talking about it with friends who love it and learned the difference between juicing and smoothies. It turns out what I made originally are smoothies–recipes I’ll be sharing with you soon–and I like those, too. To get started, read my Juicing 101 guide. I’ll definitely be doing a lot more of it this year! Continue reading

Check Me Out in the February Issue of Latina & as a Featured Panelist in #FoodFri on 1/10!

PuntoOne of the happiest days of my recent life was when I was asked to write the back page of Latina’s February 2014 issue.

Featuring pop stars Jasmine V and Becky G on the cover, it’s our first ever social media issue–and they wanted me to write about the power of Latina bloggers! Obviously, I was thrilled and I’ve been waiting in anticipation ever since to share the news with you! And now here it FINALLY is.

It’s always a crazy dream when your full-time job recognizes your fun side project, and I’m so incredibly happy because I honestly just love both so much. So run–don’t walk!–to get the latest issue of Latina. And don’t forget to check out the full list of 37 Latina Bloggers You Need To Know in 2014, which includes some of my really good friends!

The other exciting news that I wanted to share with you is that I’ve been asked to be a featured panelist in this week’s #FoodFri Twitter Chat from @MomsRising! Starting at 1 p.m. on January 10th, join me on Twitter as I answer all kinds of questions about weight loss and healthy eating. I’m pretty excited about this opportunity to connect with more people and, if I can, help those struggling on their weight loss journeys. So come and chat with me and @MomsRising during #FoodFri this Friday! Check out their full announcement about the #FoodFri Tweetchat on Continue reading

How to Keep Your Resolutions: #Healthy365Photos

green juiceIt’s been almost a week since the start of the new year so, I’m assuming, we’re all keeping up with our healthy goals for 2014, right?

Whether you’re a fan of New Year’s Resolutions or not, it’s hard to get away from the healthy eating frenzy that happens come very January 1st. From articles on how to exercise better, to magazines touting easy weight loss to healthy snack commercials all of a sudden appearing on your TV, eating healthy is everywhere this time of year. And it’s no wonder: most of us probably gained a pound or two from indulgences over the Holidays!

And whether you gained weight or not, the new year typically marks a fresh start and a new commitment to (in general) being a better person.

But then what happens a week, two weeks, a month in? Typically, most of us can’t keep up with the promises we made ourselves on January 1st, so we fall off the wagon. This year I have a cure for that, though. And it’s pretty simple. I’m calling it #Healthy365PhotosContinue reading

Slow Cooker 101: 5 Things You Need To Know

slow cookerWell, first, Happy New Year!

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I have a confession to make. Although I spent all of yesterday cooking healthy meals (roasted veggies, various salads, a few breakfast smoothies that I can’t wait to share with you all), I have a serious CRUSH on my slow cooker.

But I have another admission: I actually haven’t used this handy little device lately! When I first got it, I was making soups and stews all the time. I even made a Latin-spiced apple butter that was, well, pretty much the best thing ever. For some reason, though, 2013 wasn’t my year of the slow cooker. In fact, other than the slow cooker sofrito turkey broth, I just didn’t use it–and now that makes me kind of sad.

Now it’s a new year and I’m ready to get back to it. In fact, for all of you slow cooker lovers and novices out there, I’ve written all I know about WHY this appliance is a must for your kitchens, too. Take a look! Continue reading

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