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Healthy Alternatives: Baba Yega's Black Bean Burger

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Fellow Houstonians, in case you haven't noticed: summertime is very near. We can feel it as the sun's rays turns our parked cars into saunas and feel it as the balmy air ruins our carefully styled hair. And though this is a somewhat welcome change after the harsh winter we endured, we know that along with the heat comes the dreaded shedding of the clothes. You remember how that plush coat so cleverly disguised your post-Christmas Buddha belly and that soft pashmina kept friends from noticing your double chin? Yes, those were the days. Unfortunately, it's time to replace those bulky sweaters with skimpy tank tops and thigh-baring shorts. Consequently, this means we need to start eating a little better so those cute summer ensembles will work for us and not against us.

Everyone knows eating right is super easy when you're not hungry. The difficulty presents itself when we are out living our busy lives and not making food a priority. Suddenly we find ourselves away from our kitchen and starving with a capital 'S.' But fear not, because we here at Eating Our Words are going to start scouring our favorite restaurants to find you healthy food options that are filling, tasty, and easy on the waistline.

Recently we found ourselves craving a burger. Though burgers are generally not on the list of healthy food choices, we were determined to find a good compromise. So we decided to stop by one of our favorite vegetarian friendly eateries, Baba Yega (2607 Grant St), and indulge in a hearty black bean burger ($8.50). The folks at this Montrose mainstay know how to do a veggie burger right. They take a seasoned black bean patty, top it with avocado, lettuce, onion, and tomato and serve the whole thing on a whole wheat bun. Yes, the avocado has some fat, but it's the monounsaturated kind that actually works in your favor by keeping you feeling satisfied longer without hurting your heart. They offer it with mayo and mustard, but we eschewed the mayo and added a touch of lycopene-rich ketchup.

For a side dish, you can get either the seasoned fries or for an extra buck a side garden salad or fresh fruit. Though we love us some French fries, we wisely decided on the fruit. You know how oftentimes you ask for a side of fruit and get a few sad chunks of under-ripened cantaloupe and a wilty strawberry? That is so not the case here. The portion of the large plate that was not overtaken by the massive burger was bursting full of a plethora of beautifully decadent fruits. There were sweet chunks of pineapple, a cluster of green grapes, ruby red strawberries, bright fuchsia slices of watermelon, and even long strips of papaya. It was a tropical paradise on a plate.

When we first arrived, we were starving. But after masticating our way through all that scrumptious food, we felt fulfilled and contented. While we're all for eating healthfully, if we leave feeling hungry or deprived, we know this is not going to work long term. Next week see if we can satisfactorily eat our way through the popular Mexican eatery, Mission Burrito, without having to resort to wearing a muumuu the next day.

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