Whether a longtime resident or new to the area, there’s always an opportunity to rediscovery your city—including the healthy jaunts. Memorial Hermann affiliated physicians and dietitians share their go-to Houston dining destinations and outdoor hot spots to break a sweat.
What: MOD Pizza
Who: Pizza lovers craving toppings beyond pepperoni or marinara. “You can order a gluten-free or low-gluten crust and pick whatever you want on it, at super-affordable prices, $9-$10 for an 11-inch pizza,” says Dr. Amanda Chan, MD, pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Fannin Pediatrics.
Why: Among seemingly endless options from the Seattle chain are: 30 toppings and 6- and 11-inch gluten-free and low-gluten crusts. Also, you can plan ahead: The website reveals calorie counts.
Order: Smart options like the Simple Salad Pizza (the 11-inch crust is 650 calories) and 0-50 calorie garnishes such as arugula, romaine, spring mix, tomatoes, fresh chopped basil, cilantro, Canadian bacon, artichokes, roasted corn, green peppers, jalapenos, pineapple and balsamic fig glaze.
Skip: The hand-spun milkshakes (as if you had to ask) and other calorie-laden choices, such as thick crust, spicy chicken sausage (1/4 cup, 110 calories), anchovies (160 calories), salami (5 slices, 90 calories) and bacon (140 calories).
Cost: Up to $10.
What: Baby Barnaby’s
Who: Families seeking eggs, comfort food and American Sunday standards throughout the week, Dr. Chan says.
Why: The eggs are worth the wait at this cozy, kid-friendly breakfast diner in Montrose. The porch is roomy enough for children to play while parents read newspapers and phones until a booth becomes available.
Order: Bob’s Healthy Plate, a keto-friendly platter with six egg whites, chicken apple sausage, fruit and wheat toast. Also: Annie’s Low-Fat, High-Protein Burrito with six egg whites, grilled chicken and black beans wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, with sliced tomatoes on the side. Or order a la carte: egg whites, hot cereal, English muffin and fruit cup.
Skip: Beef hash and chorizo (spicy pork sausage).
Cost: $11 and under.
What: Salata Salad Kitchen
Who: Aficionados of greens.
Why: With over 50 toppings and 10 house-made dressings, options seem limitless. “You can do your own meal prepping with all these different veggies, and you can control how much you put on your salad,” Chan says. Knowledge is power: You’ll find nutritional facts are on their website.
Order: Healthier options, salad with dressing on the side.
Skip: Lemonades and limeades are 150 calories, tomato basil soup is a whopping 330. Raisins, cranberries, bacon, pasta, almonds, walnuts and parmesan cheese quickly jack up calorie counts on salads. And somehow ignore the cookies and croissants, 170-200 calories each.
Cost: $7-$11 for salads. (Beverages and desserts are more.)
What: Cyclone Anaya’s
Who: Tex-Mex cravers of spice and everything nice, diet-wise.
Why: “I just like the taste,” says Sharon Smalling, MPH, RD, LD, Clinical Dietitian Specialist at Memorial Hermann Hospital – Texas Medical Center. Other perks are healthy choices, which the restaurant is willing to adapt by doubling the vegetables and skipping the starch. “Never hesitate to ask how it’s prepared and get it as you’d like,” she says. “If you’d like it without salt or brushed olive or corn oil instead of butter, say so.” She often asks for double the vegetables and no rice.
Order: Smalling’s faves are Pollo Anaya, charbroiled chicken breast seasoned with lemon and served on a bed of Mexican rice with grilled vegetables and sliced tomatoes; and the gluten-free Seared Tuna Salad, with mango and tomato. (She orders cilantro lime vinaigrette on the side.) “Servings are large, so I get two or even three meals out of one dish.”
Skip: Fried dishes, chips and refried beans. (Charro beans are available.)
Cost: Up to $27.
What: D’Amico’s Italian Market Café
Who: Pizza and pasta buffs wanting to go casual, as in red gingham plasticized table cloths and great Italian fare.
Why: It’s a sentimental favorite of Smalling – who dined there with her now husband on their first date. She loves heart-healthy pizza and pasta dishes.
Order: Smalling’s “go-tos” are Penne Asparagus, with grilled chicken, Roma tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, and basil tossed in olive oil; and Nash Pizza, an oval extra-thin crust topped with fresh basil pesto, marinara, light sprinkle of cheeses, fresh lemon juice, artichoke hearts and grilled chicken. Also on her regular rotation: Red Duke Pizza, a heart-healthy pizza topped with marinara sauce, a sprinkle of Romano cheese, thinly sliced artichokes and bell peppers. “I’ll have two to three pieces, depending on the size, with a house salad,” she says. “There’s always enough with all three of these for another meal or two.”
Skip: Dishes lacking a heart icon signifying heart-healthy options.
Cost: $12-15 for pizza and under $21 for most entrees.
Who: Sushi lovers, calorie counters and choosy eaters seeking fish and veggies. “I love all the Poke restaurants. They offer cooked and raw fish, but Pokéworks is my favorite – and you can find them around the city,” says Dr. Charles Whitehead, MD, family medicine doctor at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Memorial City.
Why: Nutritional information is easy to find on the website. You can pluck your sustainable protein (sushi, chicken or tofu); and base (brown rice, quinoa, cabbage or seaweed wrap) and mix in your favorites, including jalapeño, sriracha aioli, edamame or mango. Or go with the island twist of prepared bowls, courtesy of chef-collaborator and Hawaiian native Sheldon Simeon.
Order: Hawaiian Classic (ahi tuna, sweet onion, cucumber, chili) or Wasabi Shrimp and Scallops (with sweet onion, sesame seeds and wasabi aioli).
Skip: Nothing, though macadamia nuts weigh in at 204 calories per serving. But it’s all healthy.
Cost: $11 to $14 for the bowl, with extras at $1 to $3 each.
* Not all affiliated physicians are Memorial Hermann employees.