I want part of my blog to be focused on Houston, so today I list some of my favorite local restaurants and why I think they are so great. I’ve only been here for about two years, so I know I’ll find more fun places. The four below are casual spots. Perhaps a later post will be for some nicer restaurants, but you could find reviews of those in any magazine!

1. Ruggles Green

From their website: Ruggles Green is Green Restaurant Certified by the Green Restaurant Association. We offer delicious menu items that incorporate organic, all-natural, hormone-free, preservative-free, products that are always delicious. We strive to preserve the environment through our actions in recycling, conservation, the use of sustainable products, and simple common sense.

Favorite menu items are their Tofu and Tomato Salad, and the Veggie Nut Burger. Also great are the Sweet Potato Fries, Jenny Dipper salad, and the Hi Protein Hempenadas. Just eating at a Certified Green restaurant makes you feel like you’re doing something right!

2. Stone Mill Bakers

This bread shop and lunch spot is a favorite for an indulgent and carb-loading day. First, huge samples are available of muffins, cookies, or breads. That is always a good start! And their sandwiches are just as tasty as their baked goods. My favorite is Turkey Avocado on Honey Whole Wheat. And the sandwiches come with a cookie! All homemade, all delicious. Not that you want to look, but the nutritional info is listed on their website.

3. Picnic

Another super-cute lunch/dessert place is Picnic. What a cute name! Their website even has a list of local spots to have a picnic in Houston, and your box lunch comes in a picnic box if it’s to go. But 9 of 12 months of the year are too hot for that. Their tuna salad and chicken salad plates are delicious, and again, come with a cookie! All homemade right on the spot. I think homemade breads make a restaurant even better. Cookies, soups, and breads change daily, so you have to keep going back to taste them all.

4. French Gourmet Bakery

I don’t have a picture of the best cookies in town, but their iced ginger and chocolate chip cookes are fabulous. Their phone customer service is not great, and the outside decor will give you flashbacks to the 1980s, but their goods make up for it. They have a lunch menu, but I have never tried it. I have only had the cookies, and they are good!

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Inspired by The Healthy Everythingtarian’s  post on her pantry staples, I am giving you my foods that I cannot live without, and what I do with these foods. Many of these products are new to me since following more food bloggers. Foodies know what foodies like.

1. Greek yogurt: Chobani Vanilla or Oikos Vanilla

These yogurts, of which I buy both because I can’t pick a favorite, are fantastic. High in protein, low in sugar and calories, and tasty. I like them for breakfast, to mix into baking, and for snacks with cereal. Deelish.

2. Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter and Co.’s Chocolate Dreams or Maranatha’s No Stir Creamy

I cannot tell you how rich and creamy the PB &Co’s Dark Chocolate Dreams is. Its nutritional info is similar to other peanut butters and maybe a little lower (170 cals/2 T, 13 g fat, 6g protein) but this is just so delicious and heavenly. You must go find it. There are other flavors in the brand that I have not tried, like Cinnamon Swirl?! That’s next on my list.

Maranatha is great too for the traditional peanut butter. I like them both with bananas. Ingredients are peanuts, oil, sugar, salt. No HFCS or Hydrogenated Oils. Watch out for those in your peanut butters!

3. Fiber One Original

 

I have been eating Fiber One since before they had multiple flavors and bars. I actually like it plain! But it is best  mixed with a second cereal and yogurt. And Hungry Girl can tell you a million ways to use Fiber One in cooking and baking.

A great way to start the morning with almost 60% of your daily fiber and 60 cals per 2/3 cup.

4. Apples

You know what an apple looks like. These are great for afternoon snacks with item 5. And if you microwave it with some granola and cinnamon, it’s a fake apple pie!

5. Laughing Cow Cheese

At 35 calories per wedge, Laughing Cow cheese in different flavors goes great with apples. Also spreads on breads or bagel well instead of cream cheese. Can be melted into omelettes, and Hungry Girl has a million ways to use these too. Sister brand Babybel is great too, but not for spreading.

Galaxy Granola

Bear Naked Granola

  

 

 

 

 

I love granola, but I feel best eating it when I know what’s in it, and that it’s good for me. For a long time, I ate Bear Naked Granola because I liked their story, their grassroots background, and of course the taste. But I always ate it in moderation because it has 7 grams of fat per 1/4 cup serving. That is a lot! I know, good fats, etc. But it can’t be that good. Also calorie dense.Then I recently discovered Galaxy Granola. They bake their oats in fruit, not fat. Their servings are 115 calories per 1/4 cup and only 1.4 grams of fat. That’s a big difference!

On a blind taste test if I didn’t know the nutritional info, I would probably pick Bear Naked. Their chunks are more filling, and I like their Peak Protein product to bump up the protein. It’s also easier to find in regular grocery stores right now. But knowing the nutritional info, I just bought a new bag of Galaxy Granola. Hard to beat better stats for the same serving size. I recommend the Not Sweet Vanilla, and I just bought Raspberry (has real dried raspberries in it!)

Granola has never had a great reputation because of it’s fat content, so Galaxy’s push at lowering the fat wins in my book.

And by the way, my favorite way to eat granola is with cottage cheese.

Question of the day: Have you tried either? Which gets your vote?