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gulf coast special magazine
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Get in the Holiday Spirit Without Overindulging This Season
By Robin Barr Sussman

Healthy and holidays are two words not usually included in the same sentence. But you can make menu choices to lighten the load of holiday partying and still enjoy the taste. Take away these tips and sources for cutting the fat, adding more nourishing ingredients, and serving celebratory meals that are worry free.



We recently discovered this indispensable supermarket hack to shorten shopping and prepping time and utilize clean, organic, low fat and gluten-free ingredients. Visit Simple Mills’ website for tons of recipes including a beautiful vegetable tart, fresh green bean “casserole” and low sugar, gluten-free desserts.
Available at Kroger, Randalls, Whole Foods Market, Costco and Vitamin Shoppe. Visit

These neighborhood outposts emphasize fresh local ingredients and creative, nutritious fare for Thanksgiving sides. This is the place for balsamic roasted sprouts or the signature Brussels Sprout Super Salad with quinoa and dried cherries. A crisp apple salad with toasted pecans, roasted vegetables and sweet potato mash also are worthy contenders. Order ahead and pick up the day before Thanksgiving.
713-467-3474, 12525 Memorial; 832-538-1060, 5740 San Felipe; 281-394-7555, 23501 Cinco Ranch Boulevard, Katy;   

Reserve your holiday meals online and customize choices for a sensational spread or dinner party prepared for pick up or delivery. Serve roasted turkey or lean herb-crusted grilled beef tenderloin with sides like root vegetable salad. Generous appetizers include a light Mediterranean platter or grilled shrimp. Don’t forget the mini lemon tartlets from the bakery for portion control! Find nutrition information on the website.
3815 Westheimer, 713-386-1750,

Garlic roasted cauliflower, grilled kale and mushrooms, roasted butternut squash and turnip mash are a few nutritious choices on the menu at this shrine to health food. You can even buy homemade bone broth here if you decide to make your own low calorie gravy for the turkey dinner. Low-fat brownies and blondies will lighten up your dessert tray. Choose delivery or pick up.
Eleven locations in Houston,

For a fancier, full-service catered event including beverages and libations, Swift will tailor each menu to your dietary preference and create a personalized tablescape for your theme. Salmon and apple carpaccio, goat cheese grits soufflé, Napa salad and “Crying Tiger” char-grilled filet of beef are a few health conscious signature dishes.
2137 West Alabama, 713-526-7600,

This chic French restaurant and bakery will prepare your entire Thanksgiving meal for take-out. A beautifully roasted whole organic turkey, fresh cranberry sauce, roasted beet salad, green beans almondine (no cream), and roasted carrots are a few nutritious dishes included. Yes, bourbon pecan pie is another option, if you must.
1800 Post Oak Boulevard, 832-564-1870 (events and to go),



Whether planning Thanksgiving with classic dishes or an elaborate Christmas soiree, these four award-winning American wines are crowd-pleasers that pair seamlessly with holiday fare.

Benziger Family Chardonnay, Sonoma County 2015: Flavors of apple, pear and citrus engage the palate while hints of butter and meringue unfold. Pairs splendidly with roasted turkey, crab cakes and myriad sides (Benziger also makes a lovely Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir).
Buy it: Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, multiple locations, About $13.

J Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma County 2016: Silky and vibrant with cherry, cranberry, exotic spice and black tea notes. Marries well with assorted cheeses, fruit, turkey, pork tenderloin, roasted beets and mushroom stuffing.
Buy it: Total Wine & More, multiple locations, . About $19.

Provenance Wildwood Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2017: Lively with citrus, ripe pear and nuances of toasted almond and lavender. Perfect with cheese, fruit, salads, and seafood appetizers.
Buy it: Houston Wine Merchant, . About $30.

Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi 2016: Exploding with blueberries, black plums and cocoa, this lush wine pairs with peppered turkey and beef, roasted beet salad, and root veggies. If splurging a bit, try the single vineyard Zinfandels.
Buy it: Total Wine & More, multiple locations, . About $18.


Light And Lovely Pumpkin Cheesecake
This “skinny” pumpkin cheesecake recipe was inspired by the addictive seasonal dessert at California Pizza Kitchen. Fat free cream cheese, less sugar and fat free Cool Whip take the calories down a few notches, but the flavor still shines.

2 packages (8-ounce each) fat-free cream cheese, softened
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
2 eggs
1 prepared graham cracker crumb crust (6 to 8 ounces)
1 cup fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and spices with mixer until blended. Pour into graham cracker crust. Bake 40 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate three hours. Decorate with whipped topping just before serving.
Yield: 8 servings

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