May 25th, 2011

Belt-Busting Bender: Healthy To-Go Food

Welcome to Belt-Busting Benders. This will be an ongoing series where one of our writers picks the same type of thing to eat or drink each day for an entire week. Enjoy.

Crap! How did it get to be almost summer? My spring body cleaning was supposed to be in full swing, and here I am talking about summer plans over the chili cheese hot dog from BRC.

So I decided to jump start my Summer Smokeshow 2011 plan. I was going to eat “healthy” for five days, and each day I would be trying food from a different healthy to-go place.

Day 1 – Real Foods 365
I liked this place before I walked in for no other reason than it looked like the underdog of healthy to-go places around town. It shares a nondescript building with a construction company, but is located in the bustling Washington Corridor area. Kind of like the Lucas or Anthony Michael Hall of Washington Ave. Wait, what? Parking was easy, and the women who greeted me explained how their food follows the Zone diet and that most of their menu changes weekly. They handed me a menu and let me roam the coolers at my own pace, which I appreciated. It’s a small space, but they offer a lot of options. I ending up choosing the Turkey Breakfast Tacos, Turkey Ziti (half off b/c it was expiring, but one of the women told me to freeze it and it would keep), and some kind of Chicken Broccoli Casserole that made me think of dinner growing up. They also told me they offer Paleo options, which is a diet made up things that can be hunted or gathered. “Baby steps,” I thought, and asked if they had any dessert options. I couldn’t decide on a dessert so I bought 3 and told myself I’d just sample each (Self: Have we met?) – Meyer lemon tart, strawberry cheesecake and peanut butter chocolate cup. I enjoyed the tacos and ziti, but the casserole was rock. and. roll. It was the best kind of health food – it was healthy (~ 300 calories) but didn’t taste healthy. The desserts, however, were more lackluster than the entrees. So I sampled each, but decided to save my calories for a liquid dessert.

Leave with – Expiring options that are half off and can be frozen; the casserole if they have it!

Day 2 – My Fit Foods
Day 2 was a little busier, so I decided to get my food from my local Fit Foods down the street. Many of us have likely been to one of the almost 20 Houston locations when we want to watch what and how much we’re putting down the hatch. I walked in, and like always, the employees working welcomed me and others and set aside our food as soon as we picked it out. I selected the Good Morning Sunshine, Lean Lemon Turkey and the Turkey Pasta. I decided to forgo dessert since the last time I bought dessert here – a pack of Devin’s Muffins – the 6-pack became a 3-pack before I got home. However, as I was paying, I eyed the person next to me with something that looked like a cookie. My Fit Foods has cookies now? I asked if these Perfect Fit Cookies were any good, and all three people – the man and the two employees ringing us up – gave a resounding Yes. I added one to my order, and headed to work. The thing I love most about the food here is a lot of it has a spicy kick to it and it’s consistent. The menu doesn’t change that often, but you know what you are getting. And the cookie? I heated mine up for 8 seconds in the microwave, and it was great gooey goodness that was worth the $1.50 it ran me.

Leave with – Anything with the ground turkey is always great to me. And The. Chocolate. Chip. Cookie.

Day 3 – TruFoods
When I walked into Tru Foods, I could tell immediately it was for a different clientele than the others I had been to on days 1 and 2. I felt like I walked into the Junior League of healthy to-go food. The nice guy behind the counter assisted me as I sucked in and wiped the sleep away from my eyes, and he explained that Tru Foods is a little different in that it’s made with the best ingredients – think organic, fresh, local, grass-fed, all-natural, wild-caught. I was all for it, and asked him to point out what is most popular. I bought the Harissa Almond Chicken, Tex Mex Scramble and the Chicken Parmesan. And to not break my streak, I bought two desserts – the Tiramisu and the Cheesecake. When my boyfriend and I went to pay, the guy behind the counter offered us some California salads because they were expiring that day. Hooray! Free is fun. And then we got our total. Yikes, best ingredients mean bad news for the bank account. Later we started with the salads, and they were so delicious. But the entrees – well, I really wanted them to be better than they were. They were fine, but for what we paid I really wanted them to be fine-er. But you guys! The desserts were ridiculously good. The tiramisu was super espresso-y (yum) and the cheesecake was eyes-roll-back-in-head-worthy (and definitely big enough to share).

Leave with– Desserts (shocking) and entrees if you have a little more to spend and want your healthy to-go food to be kinda fancy

Day 4 – Snap Kitchen
I was dreading coming here ONLY because this location is painful due to the Kirby construction. But I made it in, and parked with ease. I walked in and the first thing I thought was, “Ooo, I like this song.” Ol’ Snap kitchen has a much more fun feel than the others. It’s bright, colorful and the music is upbeat but not annoying. There was a salad bar that seemed to be popular in the back, but I decided to stick to the pre-packaged health food up front. I could tell a lot of people had been there before me, but then I realized it was Monday (Mondays = food-for-week shopping days). There were a ton of options – vegetarian, vegan, extra-small size for kids or a snack, etc. I chose an egg white and turkey chili scramble, a green curry chicken, a small jalapeno hummus, and a blueberry crumble (because let’s not stop now, shall we?). The curry was great. I have wanted a healthy Thai option, and Snap kitchen is the only one I’ve seen that offers it. And the hummus was honestly my favorite thing of the entire week thus far. This hummus came in a portion-friendly 200 calorie package, and unlike most jalapeno hummus that is meek and mild, this one thankfully wasn’t shy. The Blueberry Crumble was definitely mouth-watering, but at 310 calories and a pretty small size, I’d rather – say it with me – drink my dessert.

Leave with – There’s something for everyone here.

Day 5 – Smart Meals
I was so thankful I made it to day 5 because I missed things like not having to use a microwave three times a day and, let’s be honest; this way-of-life ain’t exactly cheap. I drove to Smart Meals off of Shepherd, and egads! It was not there. I called the store number. It gave me the da-nuh-nuh sound. Has Smart Meals bid adieu to us? Has it been gone for awhile, and I missed it? I sat in the Randall’s parking lot and googled “healthy food to go Houston” and I found a few others – Diet Gourmet (but it is by same people as Tru Meals which I had already done), Wunderfood (but it is downtown and driving there sounded like hell), and something called Energy Kitchen (which is actually not in Houston but I really, really hope comes one day).

And that’s when I decided I wasn’t going to make Day 5. So I put my car in reverse and then noticed it in all its cutesy sign glory – Yogurtland. Oh, helloooooooo. So I decided to make it to Day 5 in one area – by having dessert.

— Sarah


Monica — Thursday, May 26, 2011 3:23 pm

This is a fabulous guide! I love My Fit Foods (and that cookie is A-M-A-Z-E), but I totally want to try Snap Kitchen now. Thanks Sarah P, for this super helpful article and for being super attractive.

Carrington — Thursday, May 26, 2011 10:02 pm

The Loop Scoop if you like an all organic, locally soured healthy food option then check out PURE catering – PURE PAks!

Steve Glen — Friday, May 27, 2011 9:41 am

Next time you are out looking for healthy meals, try “Balance Healthy Meals To Go” on Bellaire near Stella Link. I really like their food and they have some great desserts under 200 calories

Erin — Wednesday, June 1, 2011 11:28 am

Hmmm, I like that Monica’s comment ;) I love me some My Fit Foods, but my only complaint is they stalk you from the second you walk in until the second you drive off. Literally. Thanks, but I can carry my own small lean lemon turkey to my car. I can do it. I really can. I love Snap too. We need more of these gems in Austin.

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