We bid farewell to Thanksgiving 2017 with happy hearts and not so happy stomachs. Here comes December with its office parties, gift exchanges with friends (including adult beverages) and more zipper-busting holiday dinners. The first week of December is the perfect time to get a little outdoor exercise in our temperate climate and swap out a few unhealthy bites with some healthier options. So put down the eggnog and try some of our suggestions to give you energy for the Christmas shopping you haven’t even started yet.
There are more and more organic and healthy restaurants opening in Houston, which was declared the fattest city in the nation a couple of years running. While other cities have now surpassed us in that regard, we have thousands of restaurants to choose from and our food-loving town needs the good angels to balance out our devilish indulgences. Here are a few that we recommend for delicious, but naturally healthy dishes.
Harvest Organic Grille, 1810 Fountainview
There are a variety of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free dining options as well as seafood and meat dishes at this Galleria-area restaurant. The creative salads are served with house-made, gluten-free, low-fat dressings and the dishes here are made with one-hundred percent from- scratch ingredients. This is a good option for a group with varying nutritional needs and preferences. Harvest Organic Grille also offers power juices and wheatgrass shots.
Season’s Harvest Cafe, 17303 Shaw
Down a country road and easily missed is a cabin-like structure with a large porch set in the woods. The location is perfect for detoxing your mind, while a seasonal menu of mostly organic and local ingredients can give your body the fresh meal it is craving after butter-laden stuffing and gravy.
Owners, Pastor Beket and Joanne Griffith, use area suppliers such as Whitehurst Heritage Farm in Cypress. The menu changes weekly with availability, so go with an open mind expecting to eat a home-cooked, healthy meal like your momma wants you to eat. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch, but there are sometimes live music events on Friday evenings.
Seasons 52, 4410 Westheimer and 842 Sam Houston Parkway North.
There are more than 40 locations in this chain across the country, with two in Houston. While not every dish on the menu would be considered truly healthy, the menus list the calorie content beside each item. This is a great reminder to eat thoughtfully while enjoying every bite. With items like Maui Tuna Crunch Salad (370 calories) or roasted mushroom flatbread (430 calories), there are plenty of options from which to choose a tasty and nutritious meal. If there is wiggle room in your plan, there are mini-indulgences for those craving a sweet treat. Just remember it’s a treat. For a reasonable $3, there is carrot cake (260 calories) and even pumpkin pie (340 calories), a dessert of pumpkin mousse and a gingersnap cookie. There is also a full bar, but try to avoid the temptation. You’re going to need that stiff drink later while listening to your cousin brag about his new Audi at Christmas.
Pat Greer’s Kitchen, 412 West Clay
While not a dine-in restaurant, Pat Greer’s offers those on the go a number of vegan and raw treats not found anywhere else in Houston. Regular patrons of Urban Harvest’s Eastside Farmer’s Market will recognize the name due to its weekly presence on Saturday mornings. Patricia Greer, co-founder of City Co-op, saw a need to use the bounty of fresh produce and also the lack of raw and vegan products. Homemade kombucha is available in different flavors for $3. Try the Great Greek Bowl, with feta made from cashews. Your body will be grateful.
Just as Boba tea cafes and boutique ice cream shops are popping up everywhere, juice bars are becoming an ever-expanding trend across Houston. These go way beyond your breakfast glass of orange juice with a variety of fruits,
Juice Girl, 238 W. 19th and 1200 McKinney (Houston Center Food Court)
Owner Gretchen Todd paved the way with the first 100 percent organic juice bar in Houston and has been going strong ever since. With its juice creams and acai bowls, the shop takes healthy and organic to a delicious level.
For those seeking vegan ice cream,
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Juiceland, 3206 White Oak, 5310 Kirby, and 1340 Westheimer
This Austin-based juice bar offers several different sizes of their juices and smoothies. It also serves shots that won’t make you do embarrassing things in public. There are nutritious add-ins like chia seeds and flax oil or even chocolate chips. (Dark chocolate is healthy, haven’t you heard?) With grab-n-go meals such as vegan taco salad or pasta primavera made with zucchini noodles, you have no excuse to down a fast-food burger in your car.
Nourish,1000 West Gray
With its Next Level smoothies ($9 small, $12 biggie) and $10 power bowls this is for those wanting to kick their bodies up a notch.
Acai Brasil, 5750 North Sam Houston Parkway E.
Besides the acai bowls and juices on offer, there are some Brazilian finger foods as well, including