[caption id="attachment_268" align="alignleft" width="251" caption=""...heading back home to Houston, TX for the holidays and besides family, what I am most looking forward to is eating at my favorite restaurants again!"-Stephanie"][/caption] I’m sitting here with my mouth watering as I daydream about this year’s Christmas vacation. That may sound weird, but we are heading back home to Houston, TX for the holidays and besides family, what I am most looking forward to is eating at my favorite restaurants again! The SF Bay Area really is AMAZING for a number of reasons, but to be honest it is not because of its famous BBQ or Tex-Mex! (I guess that makes sense after all.) Here, every time somebody cooks BBQ, what they really mean is that they USED the BBQ, as in, “the grill” to cook dinner. But let’s be clear: eating grilled vegetables or grilled chicken is not the same as eating BBQ! When you refer to a BBQ in Texas, it means red meat like sausage and beef with authentic BBQ sauce! Before I divulge my MOST FAVORITE (as Bryan Regan would say) Houston area restaurants, it would be helpful to first disclose some nutritional elements in this blog. Here are my top pieces of advice: 1. When eating out, put half of your meal in a to-go box BEFORE you even start eating it. Most American restaurants serve giant portion sizes, to which many of us have become accustomed. Limiting your portion size is one of the first and easiest steps towards a healthy lifestyle because you are not saying, “No, I cannot eat that at all,” you are just saying, “I can control myself.”) 2. Did you know that one portion of chicken should really be the size of your palm? Now think about the last time you went out to eat. The meat probably took over at least half of your plate! That is why the pre-to-go-box idea really helps. If you wait until after the meal, who knows what you will have left on your plate (maybe some veggies which you should have eaten in the first place along with a soggy salad)! Be careful with salad dressings too! A salad is not so healthy when it is drowning in dressing like Thousand Island, Ranch, or especially Ceaser dressing (surprise, surprise it’s not so healthy at all). 3. Here is another little trick: eat an apple or drink a bottle of water before each meal. You won’t feel quite so hungry afterwards and will be more likely to eat a healthier meal. (But if you choose the water option rather than an apple, you may have to pee later!) 4. For those who are really determined to eat healthy, try creating a food journal at the beginning of each week. Planning out meals will keep you on track for the week and also help speed up shopping at the grocery store (I could peruse for hours). Plus you wont be as tempted to buy unhealthy foods like processed meals and desserts. NEVER go grocery shopping on a hungry stomach. You are really doing yourself a disservice if so. You’ll end up with bags of Doritos and cookie dough over piling your cart. And finally, please eat a healthy breakfast to energize your day and help prevent unhealthy snacking throughout the afternoon! Now that I have talked about healthy eating habits, I can share some of my favorite restaurants in the Houston area. Just be forewarned on what I mentioned above for the best ways to “eat out.” If you are not a vegetarian: check out this site: http://www.praseks.com/ Praseks makes the BEST beef jerky in the world! I’m not talking about the greasy kind road trippers snack on from pit stops at gas stations. This is the REAL DEAL, folks. The turkey jerky and beef jerky (peppered) are my two favs. Let’s move on to chicken. The only fast food restaurants I have noticed often in the Bay Area are Carls Jr, In-N-Out (which of course is amazing), a few Wendy’s, and McDonalds. But in Houston, we have the glorious, Chik-Fil-A. Oh my gosh—I am so excited just thinking about it. They have chicken sandwiches with honey flavor that melt in your mouth. They really are unbelievable. http://www.chick-fil-a.com/?#healthyappetites And then there is Eva’s Mexican Restaurant. There is just one of these and it is located outside the neighborhood I grew up in. In California, when I’m at a Mexican restaurant and order “queso,” I get the “I’ve never heard of that.. Do you mean cheese?” look. Well, in Houston, queso is the typical appetizer along with hot chips and salsa. Every time I eat out at Mexican, I also have to drink Dr Pepper. It’s just a rule of mine. Maybe because I’m from Texas and that is where Dr Pepper originated. http://www.menuism.com/restaurants/evas-mexican-restaurant-houston-6518 Lastly there is Mr. Vu’s French Bakery, called Tea Cakes. He moved to America from Vietnam and opened a French Bakery down the road from our neighborhood (he lived next door to me!). My dad always loves the chocolate amaretto cream puffs. My favorite though is the German Chocolate Cake and Lunch Special (iced tea, onion soup—THE BEST—chicken salad crescent—another best, and a few carrots on the side). http://teacakefrenchbakery.com/ Is your mouth watering yet? Go grab a bite. Try and stay somewhat healthy this season, taking everything in moderation!