Hidden Spots Around the Bay That Will Help You Keep Your Fitness Goals

Mediterranean salad with raw falafel at Natural Living
Mediterranean salad with raw falafel at Natural Living Photo courtesy of Lisa Piper

The cooler weather has reached Houston and people are already daydreaming about the delicious holiday treats to come. This time of year is one of the toughest times to stay on-track with a healthy diet. But with a little assistance from passionate health enthusiasts who love helping people reach their fitness goals, it can be done. Here is a list of a few local spots created to help those folks already focused on their summer bod of 2019.

click to enlarge Check out the zingy pink panther tea and a creamy dreamsicle shake at Level-Up Nutrition! - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FULLER
Check out the zingy pink panther tea and a creamy dreamsicle shake at Level-Up Nutrition!
Photo by Jennifer Fuller
Level-Up Nutrition - Webster

Tucked away in the warehouse-style office complex across the street from Nobi Public House on NASA Parkway, Level-Up Nutrition has double the healthy perks; with tasty power-fueled meal replacement shakes as well as complimentary workouts, all in one spot. Flip a tire or swing a kettle bell with other like-minded locals. All that is required to move and sweat with this motivated group of folks is the purchase of a delicious meal replacement shake. There are so many flavors to choose from. Try the refreshing dreamsicle smoothie or maybe the more filling banana fudge bomb smoothie, all at about 200-250 calories for a 20-ounce shake. For individuals wanting to take things a step further, complimentary wellness evaluations are available by appointment only.

Level-Up Nutrition is owned and operated by Lisa Floridia and Kristina Frank. These two fun and energetic ladies prepare the shakes, make the teas, and head-up the fitness side. Floridia and Frank are behind it all and their enthusiasm to help people achieve their fitness goals is refreshing. Level-Up Nutrition is kid-friendly, so anyone who needs to bring along a kiddo or two is welcome; there is an area just for them.

click to enlarge This hearty oatmeal bowl is loaded with the good stuff. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FULLER
This hearty oatmeal bowl is loaded with the good stuff.
Photo by Jennifer Fuller
Vitality Bowls - Friendswood

Yes, this is a chain, but a pretty convenient and healthy one. This location is small with seating for only about ten people or so. Located in one of the strip centers outside of Baybrook Mall, Vitality Bowls specializes in just that – bowls of life-supporting nutrients. The bowls are loaded with almost every kind of healthy edible combination imaginable. The base of these bowls is made into a smoothie mixture and then topped with even more super-foods. The Detox Bowl’s base blend is organic acai, almond milk, flax seed, kale, spirulina, bananas, and strawberries and is topped with blueberries, almonds, bananas, gogi berries and honey. A medium bowl is 370 calories and $11.99. Oatmeal bowls and dessert bowls are also on the menu, as well as waffles, paninis, soups and salads. Or just pop in a grab a smoothie or fresh juice like the rejuvenator with carrot, apple, beet and cucumber. Don’t forget to try the Kombucha on tap, too. Kid’s meals also available, so bring them and teach them healthy habits early with a kid-sized smoothie, bowl or a simple grilled cheese sandwich.

click to enlarge Braised beef tostadas are just one of the fresh lunch specials at Missy's Meals. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MELISSA HUERTA
Braised beef tostadas are just one of the fresh lunch specials at Missy's Meals.
Photo courtesy of Melissa Huerta
Missy’s Meals - Dickinson

Meal prepping definitely helps people stay focused on diet and fitness goals. It takes the fuss out of last minute meal decisions and drive-thru regret. What about people without enough time to meal prep? Let trained chef Melissa Huerta with Missy’s Meals help. Missy’s Meals is located inside of the Chevron gas station at the corner of FM 646 and FM 517. Her spot isn’t the typical taqueria/donut shop inside a gas station. While Huerta does prepare breakfast tacos, she also has daily lunch specials like meatloaf sliders with smoked gouda, brisket stuffed baked potatoes and chicken fried steak.

However, Huerta’s Heat n Eat meals are the healthy side of Missy’s Meals. These meals are available 24 hours a day. If an order needs to be picked up at 2 a.m. the store attendants will grab the labeled meal from the freezer and ring it up. Huerta has a Heat N Eat menu but also customizes meals per request, each meal running about $10 each for two portions per container. Huerta discusses dietary needs and menu options with customers through Missy’s Meals’ Facebook account. From people on strict diets per doctor’s orders and medical reasons to people just wanting to eat less carbs, less red meat or no gluten, Huerta will design a custom menu meeting those criteria. Meals are usually ready for pick up the next day. So, there it is, no more excuses.

click to enlarge Raw vegan lasagna available at the café inside of Natural Living. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LISA PIPER
Raw vegan lasagna available at the café inside of Natural Living.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Piper
Natural Living - League City

Owner Lisa Piper has created a lovely little place that not only sells and delivers organic produce through its co-op program, she has also created a dine-in café where customers can enjoy a freshly made smoothie, a cup of soup, a plant-based vegetarian meal or a fully raw vegan entree. One side of this former single family home is lined with shelves holding oversized glass jars of organic grains, flours, teas, local honey, tinctures and more. The other side is a kitchen and small dining area.

People trying to avoid gluten, dairy or just high calorie foods can find flavorful, healthy options here. Entrees include fully raw vegan lasagna, zucchini noodles with raw alfredo sauce or a raw burger made from seeds are on the menu along with several nutrient-rich smoothies. Vegan hot chocolate, herbal cough syrups and organic homemade fruit roll-ups are some other items to check out. Natural Living is located in downtown League City across from the basketball goals at League Park.

click to enlarge Vegan veggie burrito with a side of rambutan - for big appetites only. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FULLER
Vegan veggie burrito with a side of rambutan - for big appetites only.
Photo by Jennifer Fuller
NOKturne - Houston

One of the many cool things about this restaurant is it’s open late. Owner and chef Daniel Quezada realized a need in the area for a restaurant with late hours. So staying open until 3 a.m. seven-days a week gives night shift workers another option besides fast food and 24-hour diners. NOKturne is also open during the day, of course, opening at 5 p.m. on the weekend and 11 a.m. during the week. This full-service restaurant has a clean, industrial feel to it and offers fresh pressed juices, smoothies, teas, and Turkish and Vietnamese coffees. Vegetarian and vegan menu options are available. A stuffed veggie burrito with a refreshing side of rambutan or crispy potato flautas topped with avocado are just a couple options.

Seafood entrees include lime-brined red snapper, dill-cured salmon and peppercorn sesame-crusted Ahi tuna. The menu changes depending on the season, so all of the food is consistently fresh, delicious and healthy. Check out the $8 lunch box specials throughout the week. NOKturne is located off of Saturn and Gemini and also delivers.

click to enlarge Hard to decide on the Captain America Lit tea or this peanut butter Oreo smoothie - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANTHONY TROPEA
Hard to decide on the Captain America Lit tea or this peanut butter Oreo smoothie
Photo courtesy of Anthony Tropea
Impact Nutrition - Friendswood

On the west side of the Gulf Freeway, off of FM528 and Bay Area is a happening little smoothie shop with televisions, Wi-Fi, and uplifting motivational quotes lining the walls. There is quite bit of room inside with metal barstools, dining tables and shorter gathering tables perfect for sipping on a healthy shake and enjoying a little conversation with friends. Owners Anthony and Ashley Tropea offer more than 70 different smoothie flavors like the peanut butter Oreo, pecan pie and the chocolate sticky bun. Also available are over 20 energy and metabolism boosting drinks, teas and coffees and even some protein snacks for those looking for a little something extra. While workouts aren’t available here, wellness evaluations and body compositions are provided for those interested. Impact Nutrition also runs periodic specials for members of Planet Fitness, located just steps away from the smoothie bar.
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Jennifer Fuller is a freelance writer for the Houston Press. Jennifer grew up in Clear Lake and currently resides in League City where she spends her time enjoying seafood, salty air and sunshine.