Fight Sleep Insomnia: 5 Ways to Sleep Better at Night

Mark Twain in Bed. Photograph by Van der Weyde.

Mark Twain in Bed. Photograph by Van der Weyde.

We keep learning more and more about the benefits of a good night’s sleep.

Sleep is something you need to take seriously for your health. Long-term problems with insomnia are associated with weight gain, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

How can you sleep better?

Here are five ways to improve what’s known as your ‘Sleep Hygiene’. Try these key guidelines for a few weeks and see if you don’t begin to sleep better at night.

Sleep Insomnia – Key to Better Sleep #1: Cool It in the Bedroom

It’s hard to imagine living in Houston without air-conditioning.

So how did people sleep during Houston summers in the time before air-conditioning? Probably not that well. It’s hard to sleep at night when it’s hot and humid.

One of the strategies for keeping cool was the screened ‘sleeping porch’, often built on the second floor to capture any faint mid-summer Gulf coast breezes. You can still see ‘sleeping porches’ on historic homes in Houston’s original neighborhoods, like the Museum District, Midtown, Montrose and the Heights. Today you’ll notice that many of the original screened openings are enclosed with glass windows or walls — all thanks to modern air-conditioning.

It turns out that keeping your bedroom cool not only helps you sleep better but, according to a recent study published this June by the American Diabetes Association, it can also help increase your metabolism — if you keep your bedroom very cool.

Study subjects who slept in a bedroom chilled down to 66 degrees burned more calories while increasing their amount of internal brown-fat. Brown-fat, unlike white-fat, is now considered ‘good’ for maintaining an active metabolism level as well as possibly reducing the incidence of diabetes.

If you are sleeping in a bedroom that’s too hot, try to keep it cool with a fan — or consider using a portable room air-conditioner. These new models only require a small opening in a window for the exhaust heat vent tube.

Sleep Insomnia – Key to Better Sleep #2: Turn off All Electronic Devices

It’s not just for airplanes… electronic devices interfere with sleep as well.

We love our electronic devices, probably too much. We even take them into the bedroom, and use them in bed. A study in the UK indicates that over 90% of 18-24 year olds used electronic devices during the two hours leading up to bedtime.

While that iPhone or iPad or Kindle may seem like a modern replacement for reading old-fashioned hardcover books in bed, sleep researchers have discovered electronic devices are a major cause of insomnia.

Yes, that’s right: using electronic device before bedtime actually prevents your body from falling asleep.

How can this be?

Let’s consider the normal sleep cycle, before modern electronics and artificial light sources. The sun goes down at dusk, casting a warm amber glow. Your body naturally responds by producing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. You drift into a long, undisturbed natural sleep. The sun rises; with its blue morning light that announces it’s time to awaken. The body responds to the slowly increasing amount of light and adjusts its hormones accordingly. You wake up.

So how do electronic devices interrupt the natural sleep cycle?

Electronic devices emit blue light, which is not the natural color of light at night.

While we’ve had wood fires burning at night for millennia, oil lamps for thousands of years and Edison’s electric filament light bulb since 1879 — all of these emit a primarily orange wavelength light, which is the body’s internal signal to begin the sleep cycle.

What’s new is the appearance of modern electronic devices — like tablets, smart phones, flat screen TVs and LED lighting. It turns out these devices emit a strong blue wavelength light component, which is associated with ‘waking up’.

So, what to do? The simplest answer: avoid using your electronic devices for two hours before bedtime. If you must use them, consider turning down the brightness to the lowest level and hold them at least 12 inches away.

Wearing amber-tinted glasses that block blue light is another solution. While this may sound odd, amber-tinted glasses may become just another thing we wear to help us fall sleep, not unlike using ear plugs to control background noises.

You think this is crazy stuff, right? Well another scientific study released last month indicates there is a connection between dim light at night and the growth of cancer tumors in rats. Dim light also appeared to reduce the efficacy of the anti-cancer drug tamoxifen. Scientists suspect dim light at night suppresses production of melatonin in the body.

Bottom line: You’ll sleep better at night by avoiding use of electronic devices two hours before bedtime, turning out all the lights in your bedroom, and getting some old-fashioned solid, light-blocking curtains to cover up your bedroom windows from outside lights.

Sleep Insomnia – Key to Better Sleep #3: There is a Time and Place for Everything

Go to bed at the same time each day.

It’s bedtime! Most of us have an idea when we should go to sleep. Pick a time that’s right for you and stick to it. Even on the weekends. Use an alarm clock.

Get up at the same time each day.

Waking up at the same time each day helps improve the quality of your sleep in the long run. But wait? What if I woke up in the middle of the night? Shouldn’t I sleep in and catch up on sleep? The answer is no. Sleeping extra hours will only make your next night’s sleep more problematic.

Weekends can cause major sleep issues.

Going to bed late on Friday and Saturday nights with the intention of ‘catching up’ on sleep Saturday or Sunday mornings doesn’t work. You can’t ‘bank’ sleep hours. Try keeping regular sleep hours — including weekends! — for a month and see if you don’t feel more rested.

Caffeine intake has great influence over your sleep patterns. Limiting consumption to mornings only can help with sleep insomnia. Courtesy Amanda Mills, CDC.

Caffeine intake has great influence over your sleep patterns. Limiting consumption to mornings only can help with sleep insomnia. Courtesy Amanda Mills, CDC.

Caffeine before Lunch, Not After

If you are having difficulty sleeping at night, change your eating and drinking habits. Limit your coffee, tea and other sources of caffeine to the mornings only. Have a bigger breakfast and lunch then a lighter dinner, preferably by 6 p.m. Don’t drink alcohol in the late afternoon, evening or nights. Avoid smoking entirely.

What about Naps?

If you are having trouble sleeping at night, skip naps entirely for now. It’s more important to establish proper rest at night. Eliminating regular daily naps may make you more tired in the short term (due to a temporary sleep deficit) but over the long run it will help you sleep better at night.

Once you are sleeping well at night, you can try naps. A short 10-30 minute nap in the mid-afternoon has been shown to reduce stress and fatigue, as well as improve your mood, alertness and creative thinking abilities.

Sleep Insomnia – Key to Better Sleep #4: Reduce Allergens in Your Bedding

It’s estimated that a third of us are allergic to house dust mites, which lurk in our beds and pillows. They are also a primary trigger for asthma attacks. You won’t be able to see them unless you are looking through a 10x microscope. But if you wake up with a runny nose or itchy, watering eyes, you might be having an allergic reaction to house dust mites in your bedroom.

Remember our First Rule about Keeping the Bedroom Cool?

Keeping your bedroom cool not only increases your metabolism, it has an important secondary benefit: it dehumidifies the bedroom. This in turn helps reduce (though not entirely eliminate) the population of house dust mites hiding in your bedding, mattress and pillows.

Carpets are Problematic; Tile and Wood Floors are Ideal

You’ll have to remove your carpets and rugs from the bedroom if you have a serious allergic reaction to house dust mites. The good news is they can’t live on hard surfaces, like tile and wood floors.

New Microfibre Materials

Of course, if you remove your rugs, then the house dust mites will migrate to your bed.
If you want to protect your bed from dust mites, you can cover (or encase, as they say in the bedding industry) your mattress and pillows with sealed covers. The old style covers were very uncomfortable and ‘sweaty’ because they didn’t ‘breathe’. But now there’s a new generation of woven microfiber fabrics available that allow air to breathe while restricting passage of allergens.

What about Pillows?

If you don’t like the idea of covers on your pillows, an alternate strategy is to buy lower-cost synthetic pillows — wash them once or twice, and then replace them. At Target stores, for example, you can look for a very tall rack stacked with standard size polyester-filled bed pillows, priced for as little as $5 or $6 each.

Tips for Washing and Disinfecting Pillows and Bedding

To keep the pillows balanced in the washer, wash two at a time. Use less detergent than for regular clothes. Unless you have a special washing machine which can superheat the water to 140F, high heat in the dryer is actually more effective at killing organisms than your washer. Use the dryer’s medium setting (aka Permanent Press) or higher (approx. 135F) for the maximum drying time and you can skip adding chlorine to the washer.

Important: Keep an eye on your dryer when drying synthetic bedding and pillows on high heat. You don’t want the dryer to catch fire when you are out.

You can also let nature sanitize your bedding. On bright sunny days, put your pillows and bedding on the clothes line and let the sun’s UV rays do the work for you. Finally, it sounds very odd but you can also put your bedding or pillows in a freezer for 24 hours; the cold temperatures will kill house dust mites.

Sleep Insomnia – Key to Better Sleep #5: Exercise and Relaxation

Brisk exercise, such as walking at least 20 minutes each day, will improve your health in many ways, including improving your sleep.

But for many people, exercising right before bedtime can itself be a cause of insomnia. If that could be the case for you, try scheduling your exercise program in the morning or mid-day. If you can only exercise after work, try to finish at least four hours before your regular bed time.

If you have a lot on your mind, try making a list of things you need to do the next day as part of your routine before going to bed. This can help ‘put your mind at rest’ and reduce anxiousness which might contribute to insomnia.

There are many other relaxation and meditative techniques to try. Here’s an example: Try relaxing — from your head to your toes — by squeezing each of your muscle groups in sequence.

Begin by smiling to squeeze your face muscle for two seconds, and then relax. Repeat this several times. Then move to your jaw, then the neck. Repeat this muscle-by-muscle contraction and relaxation technique. Start with one shoulder, and then continue down one arm, working your upper and lower arms, hands and fingers. After doing both arms, tighten and relax your chest, then your stomach/abdomen and buttocks. Then move down each leg, tightening and relaxing your thighs, then calves, feet and toes. Still not sleepy yet? Keep this up for 45 minutes and you will probably be relaxed enough to fall sleep.

That sounds a lot like yoga and tai chi, doesn’t it? It turns out that according to some health studies both yoga and tai chi have been shown to reduce insomnia. We plan to look at yoga in a feature article in September.

Sleep Insomnia Postscript: Uncovering Signs of Sleep Disorders

If you’ve been having mild insomnia, we hope these five guidelines to improve your ‘sleep hygiene’ will help you sleep better at night. But how do you know if you have a more serious problem that requires medical attention? If you experience these issues, call us at (713) 529-9224 and schedule a consultation:

  • You fall asleep unexpectedly in the middle of the day.
  • You fall asleep during the middle of a normal activity.
  • You can’t move right away after waking up.
  • You feel like you have weak muscles after laughing, or getting excited or angry.

Important: If any of these symptoms are urgent, dial 911 for emergency responders.

Sleep Insomnia Medical Evaluation: Three Primary Ways to Assess your Sleep Health.

When you visit Dr Brewton’s office to discuss sleep insomnia, you may be asked to participate in sleep evaluation tests; sleep evaluations usually fall into these three categories:

The first way to evaluate your sleep insomnia is for you to keep a Sleep Diary, in which you document details of your sleep each night over a one to two week period.

Next is an Actigraphy test, which involves wearing a monitor on your wrist that detects motion at night, which in turn provides a record your sleep patterns. This information is typically recorded over a period of several nights.

Finally, there is a formal sleep test, or Polysomnography, which measures your movement, breathing, brain activity and other bodily functions during sleep. In some cases, this can be done at home with a portable sleep monitor; more thorough tests require an overnight stay at a sleep lab.

Healthy Living Houston: The Stars at Night are Big and Bright

Dramatic composite photograph of Perseid Meteor Shower activity in 2010. Image courtesy Michael Menefee.

Dramatic composite photograph of Perseid Meteor Shower activity in 2010. Image courtesy Michael Menefee.

The stars at night are big and bright
Deep in the heart of Texas
The prairie sky is wide and high
Deep in the heart of Texas

Yes, that’s how the song goes, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, the truth is most of the time in Houston you can’t see many stars at all due to pervasive light pollution.

But did you know that there’s an observatory open to the public just an hour south of town where you can see those stars at night, big and bright? We bet you haven’t heard of it. In fact, most Houstonians have never heard of the George Observatory, even though it’s celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Our Healthy Living Houston Activity for August: Get Out and See Texas’ Stars at Night.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science (our neighbor across the street in here in the Museum District) operates the George Observatory, located about an hour south of downtown Houston, inside the boundaries of Brazos Bend State Park.

We recommend you get out of town and enjoy some fresh air in the park and take in some stargazing during some of the interesting astronomical events coming up. These two videos from NASA will give you a good overview of what you’ll be able to see in the August skies.

August’s Perseid Meteor Shower is a Great Time to Visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory

The free Planets app for iOS devices like iPhones and iPads is a helpful learning tool.

The free Planets app for iOS devices like iPhones and iPads is a helpful learning tool.

 

There will be a special stargazing event the evening of Tuesday August 12 from 7 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. to watch the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, so you might want to check that out.

Saturdays nights during the summer are also a good bet as local astronomy club members will be available to chat with you about stargazing.

If you have an iPhone, you might also want to download the free ‘Planets’ app for iOS devices like iPhones and iPads.

It’s a very useful tool for learning about astronomy and it will help you get the most out of visiting the George Observatory at Brazos Bend State Park.

Just point your iPhone up towards the sky and the app identifies which stars and planets are visible from your location.

Other Things to See and Do When Visiting Brazos Bend State Park

The Houston Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory is just one of the attractions within Brazos Bend State Park.

Spanish Moss on Live Oak trees at Brazos Bend State Park, home of the Houston Museum of Natural Science's George Observatory. © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Spanish Moss on Live Oak trees at Brazos Bend State Park, home of the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory. © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

With more than 5,000 acres, Brazos Bend State Park offers Houstonians nearby access to biking, horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, birding, camping and of course, stargazing. The park is situated on the west bank of the Brazos River. It preserves some of the original coastal prairie as well as hardwood forests and marshes, making it an important bird refuge. More than 300 different species have been seen in the park. The Nature Center and Gift Shop are open on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Brazos Bend State Park Entrance Fees

Adults and children over 12 years old are $7 per person; children under 12 are free.

American Alligator at Brazos Bend State Park. Photo courtesy Brian Frazier, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

American Alligator at Brazos Bend State Park. Photo courtesy Brian Frazier, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Tickets for the George Observatory Telescopes are Sold On-Site, on a First-Come First-Served Basis

Once you are inside Brazos Bend State Park, you can drive to the parking area for the George Observatory. It’s a good ten or twenty minute walk to the observatory station; the walk takes you past a large, picturesque lagoon. With so much water around, we recommend wearing long pants, socks and maybe even long-sleeved shirts at dusk to fend off mosquitoes. Bring some Deet-based mosquito repellant as well.

Tickets to view through the big telescopes at the George Observatory are sold on a first-come, first-served basis in the George Observatory Gift Shop, located in the lower level. Telescope tickets cost $5 per person, and they are well worth it. It’s a good idea to bring cash in case there are problems with their credit card machine.

Combine Your Trip to the George Observatory with an Afternoon Visit to the Varner-Hogg Plantation

If you want to make a full day trip, you could start your outdoor adventure at the Varner-Hogg Plantation, which is located 20 miles further south. (See our related article for tips on touring the Varner-Hogg Plantation, Ima Hogg’s family home.)

After visiting the childhood home of Houston’s patron of the arts, Ima Hogg, you can head back north to discover the Brazos Bend State Park in the late afternoon and then stay into the evening for stargazing at the George Observatory. Or you can turn it into an overnight trip if you want to camp at one of Brazos Bend’s campsites.

Useful Links

Houston Museum of Natural Science George Observatory: Saturday Night Star Gazing

Houston Museum of Natural Science George Observatory: Special Perseid Event

Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer Organization:  www.brazosbend.org (website)

Texas Parks and Wildlife:  Brazos Bend State Park (website)

Texas Parks and Wildlife:  Brazos Bend State Park Activity Guide (PDF)

 

Healthy Living Houston: Ima Hogg Lived Here

Ima Hogg's legacy as a patron of the arts still touches us today here in the Museum District. She donated many major artworks to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts as well as Bayou Bend, her home in River Oaks with its priceless collection of American antiques. For our Healthy Living Houston activity this month we suggest a trip to Ima Hogg's birthplace, an hour south of Houston at the Varner-Hogg Plantation.

Ima Hogg’s legacy as a patron of the arts still touches us today here in the Museum District. She donated many major artworks to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts as well as Bayou Bend, her home in River Oaks with its priceless collection of American antiques. For our Healthy Living Houston activity this month we suggest a trip to Ima Hogg’s birthplace, an hour south of Houston at the Varner-Hogg Plantation.

The First Question People ask about Ima Hogg

It’s usually the first question people ask about Ima Hogg, the First Lady of Texas:

Did she know her name was – shall we say – a little unsuitable?

The answer is unequivocally ‘yes.’ Miss Ima Hogg, whose philanthropy still resonates in the heart of Houston’s Museum District and across the State of Texas and beyond, was most certainly aware of her problematic name. So much so that she went out of her way to avoid using it, preferring to be called simply I. Hogg or Miss Hogg. And before you start spreading more rumors, there is no truth to the story she had a sister named Ura Hogg; Ima had three brothers, no sister. Despite her rather unfortunate first name (chosen by her father Texas Governor James Stephen “Big Jim” Hogg after a poem written by her Uncle Thomas) Ima lived a most remarkable life — spanning from the Victorian era to the 1970s.

Governor ‘Big Jim’ Hogg’s Oil Gamble Paid Off — Long After Meeting his Final Reward

Governor Big Jim just knew they’d strike oil one day on land he bought an hour south of Houston. Turns out he was right. Big Jim’s property — known today as the Varner-Hogg Plantation — produced one of Texas’ largest oil fortunes ever. Unfortunately for Big Jim, he had already been dead and buried for twelve years when, in 1918, they finally struck oil. Soon the burgeoning number of oil wells crisscrossing the land Ima and her three brothers inherited from their father began to produce unimaginable wealth — reportedly $225,000 each month — in 1919 dollars. Now a rich Texan oil heiress, Miss Hogg went overseas to study piano with the European masters of the day. Later in life she returned to Houston to embark on a lifelong pursuit of philanthropy in arts and culture. Among Miss Hogg’s many accomplishments:

  • She established the Houston Symphony Orchestra
  • She donated her John Staub-designed Bayou Bend home in River Oaks with its priceless collection of American antique furniture as well as rare paintings by Chagall, Picasso, Klee and Matisse to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts
  • She help establish the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

And that’s not really a comprehensive list of all her philanthropic achievements.

So our healthy living Houston suggestion for this month is to take a short road trip to the Varner-Hogg Plantation, located about an hour south of Houston in West Columbia, Texas. Tours of the plantation home last for about an hour and you might want to spend another hour walking on the grounds (65 acres in total) to see the sugarcane mill and rum distillery ruins, the pecan orchards and original outbuildings. It’s a beautiful site. Admission to the park is four dollars per person; they’re open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 to 5 p.m. Tours of the inside of the home ($4 additional) are offered at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 pm. Call 979.345.4656, ext. 31 for more information.

The Varner-Hogg Plantation, an hour south of Houston, is the birthplace of the First Lady of Texas, Miss Ima Hogg. We suggest an outing to this historic site as part of visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory, located in Brazos Bend State Park.

The Varner-Hogg Plantation, an hour south of Houston, is the birthplace of the First Lady of Texas, Miss Ima Hogg. We suggest an outing to this historic site as part of visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory, located in Brazos Bend State Park.

Planning Your Trip to the Varner-Hogg Plantation? Why Not Combine Your Visit with a Trip to the George Observatory?

You can easily combine a mid-day or afternoon trip to the Varner-Hogg Plantation with a late afternoon or evening visit to Brazos Bend State Park, home of the George Observatory. They are about 20 miles (30 minutes) apart. See our related article on stargazing at the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s George Observatory, located in Brazos Bend State Park.

Useful Links

Varner-Hogg Plantation:  visitvarnerhoggplantation.com (website)
Texas Parks and Wildlife: Varner-Hogg Brochure (PDF)
Texas State Historical Association: Varner-Hogg Plantation (website)

 

Healthy Recipe for Gazpacho Soup

For August's Healthy Recipe we present two versions of Gazpacho Soup: Pepa's Gazpacho from Almodovar's film Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown (minus the sleeping tablets of course !) and Rachel Ray's Smoked Paprika Gazpacho

For August’s Healthy Recipe we present two versions of Gazpacho Soup: Pepa’s Gazpacho from Almodovar’s film Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown (minus the sleeping tablets of course !) and Rachel Ray’s Smoked Paprika Gazpacho

This month for our healthy recipe, we’ll look at two different ways to make Gazpacho Soup.

If you are a fan of films by the famous Spanish movie director Pedro Almodovar, there’s a good chance that any time you hear someone mention Gazpacho Soup, you probably think of one of his films. If so, you are not alone.


 

Pepa’s Gazpacho Soup Recipe

In fact, we found an online video recipe for Pepa’s Gazpacho Soup. It’s based on the Gazapacho Soup concocted by Pepa (played by Carmen Maura) which plays a pivotal role in the convoluted plot of Almodovar’s film Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios. (Our recipe is minus the sleeping tablets of course!)

 

That’s a good, simple version of classic Gazpacho.


 

Smoked Paprika Gazpacho Recipe

We also tried a fancier version, called Smoked Paprika Gazpacho, which is based on a Rachel Ray recipe. This one has a very complex flavor, one that you might enjoying trying.  It makes about six servings and it’s very high in vitamin C. But watch the salt content, especially if you are on a low sodium diet. In that case look for tomatoes and tomato juice with no added salt.

 

Main Ingredients Quantity
Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes 1 28 ounce can (or two 14.5-ounce cans)
Tomato Juice (or V8 Juice) 1 cup
Vegetable Broth 3 cups
White Bread 2 slices, torn
Celery 4 small ribs, chopped, from the heart
Red Onion 1 medium red onion, chopped
Roasted Red Pepper 3 roasted red peppers, chopped
English Cucumber 1/2 cucumber, chopped
Fresh Garlic 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
Sherry Vinegar (or Dry Sherry) 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or dry sherry
Lemon (or Lime) Juice of 1 lemon or 1 lime
Extra-virgin Olive Oil 2 tablespoons
Sweet Smoked Paprika 2 teaspoons

 

Optional Ingredients
Quantity
Salt Season to taste
Ground Black Pepper Season to taste
Jumbo Shrimp (optional, for dipping) 6 – 12 Jumbo Shrimp, cooked and chilled

 

Directions
We’ll start with the main ingredients. Combine the main ingredients in a large bowl.
Using a spoon, mix them up a bit so the ingredients are evenly distributed before we use the food processor or mixer. We’ll do this in three batches.
Scoop out a third of your main ingredients and pour into your food processor or mixer.
Blend until smooth. Transfer to a large pitcher.
Repeat processing the two remaining batches.
Stir the mixture in the pitcher to make sure it’s evenly combined.
Give it a taste.
If you used salted tomatoes or V8 Juice, you probably won’t need to add salt.
Otherwise add a bit of salt and then add ground pepper to taste.
Gezpacho is best served chilled, so you might need to cool it down in the refrigerator.
Serve in a bowl, glass or dessert cup, or pour over ice in a tall glass.
Add the optional shrimp, either on the side or on the side of the serving bowl or glass.

 

Fire-Roasting your own Tomatoes on a Gas Stovetop

You might enjoy roasting a couple of your own tomatoes to add a little home-made pizzazz to Gazpacho Soup recipes. Did you know you can skewer whole raw tomatoes and roast them over the gas flame on your stove? It’s basically the same technique as toasting flour tortillas on the open flame, or preparing poblano chiles on the gas stove for chiles rellenos, again over the open gas flame on the stove.

But unless you’ve got a lot of tomatoes on hand, it’s probably more convenient to buy  fire-roasted tomatoes already prepped in a can. In the recipe list above we’ve linked to the Muir Glen brand, it’s organic and gluten-free. Target and other local retailers carry it.

What about Purchasing Spices in Houston?

If you happen to be shopping for vegetables at Canino’s on Airline just east of the Houston Heights, you should make a stop across the street at Flores’ Spice & Trading Company (2520 Airline Drive, Houston, TX 77009). Like Penzey’s Spices in the Heights (516 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008), Flores carries at wide selection of spices if you need to stock up.

Healthy Living Houston: Visit Our Parks Along the Bay

doctor-gary-brewton-houston-physician-galveston-island-sunset

Dr. Anne Hecht, a Texas Master Naturalist, recommends discovering our bays, bayous and estuaries as our healthy outdoor activity for this time of year. Sunset on Galveston Island, photo by Brent Blackett

This month we got in touch with Dr. Anne Hecht, a Texas Master Naturalist, to get her recommendations about healthy outdoor activities for this time of year.

Anne had three great suggestions, all of them related to discovering our coastal bays and bayous.

Galveston Island State Park

First on Anne’s list is Galveston Island State Park (GISP). What’s particularly special about this park for nature lovers is it spans a full cross-section of west Galveston Island –  from Galveston Bay on the north to the Gulf of Mexico on the south. Admission is $5 dollars per adult, 12 and under free.

If you want to learn about the bays and marshes, meet at the Nature Center at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings for a free bay walk tour (included with your $5 admission). If you want to learn about the beach, that tour is conducted on Saturdays, also starting at 10 a.m. at the Nature Center.

doctor-gary-brewton-houston-physician-galveston-island-state-park-2

Seining demonstration on the bay at Galveston Island State Park. Photo by Nathan Veatch.

New to GISP is a “Car/Hike or Bike Tour” developed by Frank Bowser, who is an active member of The Friends of Galveston Island State Park. Frank made a guide map showing how you can navigate the two miles of paved roadway and the five miles of manicured grassland hiking trails. So get ready for a scenic walk — or bring your bike — to discover all the interesting wildlife in the prairie grasses, brackish marshes and seaside dunes. The map and the companion computer disc are available at the Ranger’s Desk at the entrance to the park.

If you want a guided kayak tour of the bay side, once again Frank Bowser is your man. Give him a call at 409-737-5567 and he’ll get you set up on a kayak tour. Launch times are timed to hit high tide, so that determines when you go out.

Artist Boat

Anne’s second suggestion is to get in touch with another group of outdoor enthusiasts who go by the name Artist Boat.

Artist Boat has a really cool concept: they take kayakers out into the waters of Galveston Bay for an art lesson (painting for example) under the supervision of certified kayaking instructors — who also happen have a professional background in science or art.

If you have no experience kayaking, don’t worry. Most first time Artist Boat participants don’t have any experience either.

doctor-gary-brewton-physician-houston-artist-boat-galveston-bay

Artist Boat offers an exciting way to discover Galveston Bay: you can go out in one of their kayaks for an art lesson (painting for example) under the supervision of certified kayaking instructors. Photo courtesy Artist Boat.

All the instruction and gear is included in the price of your tour, which ranges from $35 for a short two hour experience (not enough time for an art lesson) to $60 dollars per person for 4 hours, which includes an open air art lesson.

Not only is this great fun, it’s for a great cause too. Not that long ago one of the very last significant tracts of un-built land on Galveston’s West End was slated to be turned into a housing development.

But when those plans fell through due to the recession, Artist Boat was able join forces with other organizations to acquire a 160 acre parcel of coastal property on west Galveston Island to establish a new Coastal Heritage Preserve.

So when you support Artist Boat, you are also supporting a worthy cause that is protecting open space along Galveston Bay. You can friend Artist Boat on Facebook and see more photos of activities they have going on.

Armand Bayou Nature Center

Anne’s third suggestion is the Armand Bayou Nature Center, which is along the west side of Galveston Bay. At 2,500 acres, Armand Bayou is the largest urban wilderness preserve in the entire United States.

We can enjoy it today thanks to a visionary campaign started in the late 1960s by Mr Armand Yramategui, a Basque electrical engineer who ran the Burke Baker Planetarium at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, right across the street from our Museum District office. In 1970 Armand (he went by his first name) was tragically killed in a what we would today call a ‘carjacking’ incident. The preserve opened in 1974, and Middle Bayou was re-named Armand Bayou in his memory.

doctor-gary-brewton-houston-physician-armand-bayou-pelicans

Armand Bayou is the largest urban wilderness preserve in the entire United States with over 2,500 acres. Pelicans gather on a tree stump along the bayou. Image courtesy Wikimedia

Armand Bayou has been celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. They received a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to rejuvenate some of their hiking trails; this construction activity is nearly complete by now, but you might want to touch base with the office to get the latest details.

The three most popular trails– the Martyn Trail through the forest and along the bayou, the Prairie Interpretive Trail and the Discovery Loop Trail — will remain open during the construction work.

One great way to get an overview of the park is to ride the pontoon boat called the Bayou Ranger. These boat tours start early on Saturday mornings. Enjoy a light breakfast on board as you silently drift down the bayou and catch early morning activities of the park’s wildlife. The boat departs from Bay Area Park boat launch and costs $25 for adults. Become a member and save five dollars on your ticket. Make reservations at 281-474-2551 x10.

Another tip is visiting the park on the second Saturday of each month (next one coming up is July 12th, 2014) for two special programs: Photography and Canoeing

You can take a guided photography hike each second Saturday; the start times alternate between early morning and late afternoon. Reservations required, call 281-474-2551 x10 for more information.

You can also take a guided canoe trip (8 a.m. to 11 a.m.) on the second Saturday of each month. Reservations are required, so give a call on 281-474-2551 x10.

Useful Links for Planning Your Healthy Living Houston Outdoor Adventures

Galveston Island State Park

The Friends of Galveston Island State Park

Artist Boat

Coastal Heritage Preserve

Armand Bayou Nature Center

Houston Museum of Natural Science

 

Take a Look at Houston Events for July 2014

Summer is definitely here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy what Houston has to offer. We present our top tips for events and activities in July.

doctor-gary-brewton-physician-houston-events-for-july-2014

Houston has lots of events and activities to offer in July. Let’s go!

 Houston Events for Friday July 4, 2014

Revolutionary Celebration at Bayou Bend

Try something different this Fourth of July: Join the Texas Army Fife & Drum Corp, Betsy Ross and other period re-in-actors at Bayou Bend for a historic afternoon celebration. Free. 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Learn more at Bayou Bend event page.


Houston Events for Saturday July 5, 2014

Paddle down Buffalo Bayou

Paddle down Buffalo Bayou in a kayak and see the downtown Houston skyline in a whole new way. Make your reservation by Thursday, July 3. $60. Kayak Trip event page.


Houston Events for Sunday July 6, 2014

Bike around Houston Bayous, 8 a.m.

Meet at Market Square Park for a 25- to 40-mile bike ride exploring the bayous of Houston. Mountain bikes or bikes with fat tires are necessary. Free. Market Square event page.


Houston Events for Friday July 11, 2014

The Big Show at the Lawndale Art Center

Lawndale Art Center’s annual open-call, juried exhibition since 1984. This year juror Erin Elder, Visual Arts Director, Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, selected 115 works from nearly 1000 pieces submitted. Free. Learn more at lawndaleartcenter.org


Houston Events for Saturday, July 12, 2014

Galveston Art Walk, 6 – 9 p.m.

Every six weeks you can join art lovers from the Island and beyond on a convivial crawl through Galveston’s art galleries, antique shops and more. Wine and hors d’oeuvres served by many establishments. Free. Galveston ArtWalk event page.


Houston Events for Wednesday, July 16, 2014

37th Houston World Series of Dog Shows

This five-day extravaganza at NRG Park (the big low-rise convention center north of the old Astrodome) is a great way to learn about different dog breeds. But the secret is it’s really about the people watching. Free on Wednesday only, otherwise $15 (cash only). houstondogshows.com/visitors/tickets/


Houston Events for Friday, July 18, 2014

Mixers & Elixirs at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science cuts loose after dark for this Comic-Con-themed monthly get-together. Enjoy a live band and food from some of the best of Houston’s food trucks (bring cash for food trucks) Doors open at 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. $20 or $12 for HMNS members. Press Release

Beyoncé and JAY Z: On the Run

Houston’s own Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z are on the run, from what were not sure; possibly the Kardashians after they skipped Kimye’s Big Italian Wedding. $96.80 – $800+ Event page


Houston Events for Thursday, July 24, 2014

BCO Pub Stroll and Scavenger Hunt

Here’s a great way to get to know the people at the Bayou city outdoors club: join them for a pub stroll and scavenger hunt starting in East Downtown Houston at Lucky’s Downtown Pub (on 801 St. Emanuel). This group has dozens and dozens of outdoor activities throughout the year across Houston. Event page


 

Houston Events for Saturday, July 26, 2014

Houston Museum District: The Museum Experience 2014

Four times a year the Houston Museum District Association organizes special programming with its member museums in different zones. This time the focus is on zone three: The Jung Center of Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and The Museum of Fine Arts Houston. (These are all an easy walking distance from Dr. Brewton’s office on Hermann Park Drive.) Visit the event page.

Battle on the Bayou Beard and Mustache Competition

It’s time to get your fuzz on for a good cause. Super Happy Fun Land hosts this charity event benefiting Shriner s Hospital for children, brought to you by the Houston facial hair club. Visit Facebook event page.


 

New Food Safety Tips for Cooking Raw Chicken

doctor-gary-brewton-physician-houston-chicken-safety

New food safety recommendations urge cooks to NOT wash chicken in the sink before cooking it. It’s safer that way. Learn why in our update below. Image courtesy Steven Depolo, CC License.

It’s important to teach young cooks just learning about food safety how important it is to use one set of plates and utensils for preparing and transporting uncooked protein (fish, meat, poultry) to the oven, stove or barbecue grill — then using fresh, clean plates and utensils to serve the cooked food. This avoids transferring bacteria to the cooked food. Now researchers have a new tip specifically for cooking chicken: It’s better not to wash your chicken before cooking it!

 

New Food Safety Recommendation: Don’t Wash Raw Chicken in the Sink Before Cooking It

By now, nearly everyone knows that when cooking raw protein like fish, chicken, hamburger or steak, the best practice is to not mix utensils and plates that touch uncooked food with those used to serve the final cooked meal.

What’s new is a recommendation from the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) urging people to avoid washing chicken before cooking it. That’s right. Don’t wash your chicken. It’s safer that way.

This seems completely unhygienic and counter-intuitive to most people!

Why Should We Skip Washing Chicken Before Cooking? That Sounds Crazy!

But there is sound scientific logic at work. Here is the back story: Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, outranking the more commonly known salmonella, E. coli and Listeria bacteria (all of which cause food poisoning).

The FSA estimates that four in five of the food poisoning cases they have identified came from contaminated poultry. Why is illness from eating chicken so common?  Well UK food safety scientists have discovered a key contributing factor. It turns out the step of washing the chicken in the sink before cooking it — which seems so hygienic — actually causes the Campylobacter bacteria to spread around and make you sick.

How does this occur? Scientists discovered that washing a typical chicken in the sink causes a large number of very small liquid droplets — chock full of active Campylobacter bacteria — to splash all over the kitchen sink, adjacent countertop work surfaces and other cooking equipment near the sink. These tiny droplets also end up on your hands and your clothing. So that’s how you can unwittingly give you or one of your guests food poisoning.

The irony? If you cook chicken properly to a safe internal temperature of 165 F degrees, the campylobacter bacteria on the chicken that you were trying to remove by washing will be killed off by the heat. Thus, there’s no need to wash it beforehand.

Related Food Safety Tips for Buying, Transporting and Storing Chicken

Next time you purchase a whole chicken at the grocery store, take a few precautions.

Take advantage of plastic bags (many stores provide them nearby or you can ask the butcher) and double bag your chicken before you put it into your cart. It’s also a good idea to wash your hands at the store.

Once you are home, take more precautions.

If you plan to put the chicken in the freezer, it’s a good idea to put it inside a freezer bag (even if it’s already in a wrapper) to avoid contamination.

Take care when removing chicken from the freezer. When it’s time to defrost your chicken, the refrigerator defrosting method is considered the safest. (It may take a day or two to defrost this way)

Always defrost your chicken by placing in a bowl underneath that’s large enough to capture any liquids that might otherwise get transferred to other foods in your fridge. (This is critical for those fresh foods you might eat uncooked, like lettuce or fruit.)

When you’re ready to cook a chicken, be sure to clear away any other dishes from the sink. Place the chicken in the center of the sink, and slice open the plastic wrapping with a paring knife or kitchen shears. Drain the liquids. Avoid splashing. Remove the the plastic wrap carefully to avoid drips when transferring it to the trash.

Following these simple steps can help you and your guests avoid a painful bout of food poisoning.

 

Healthy Recipe for Zucchini Hamburgers

doctor-gary-brewton-physician-houston-healthy-zucchini-recipe

We received very positive comments on our article “3 Healthy, Low-Fat Recipes to Substitute for Pizza and Pasta” we presented in our last edition of It’s a Matter of Health, so we’ll continue with the substitutions theme again as we present our “Healthy Zucchini Hamburger Recipe”.

Try a Healthy Recipe at the Fourth of July Barbecue

As we look forward to Fourth of July Barbecues, it’s hard to fight those cravings for a really juicy hamburgers, pork-chops or grilled chicken.

But this recipe for Zucchini Hamburgers tastes great and it’s not all that hard to make. It is a recipe that calls for frying, but if you’re careful, you can cook it with a minimum amount of canola oil.

Our recipe is set up to make four burgers, you can double up the recipe by making multiple batches if you want to serve a bigger group.

Let’s Start the Quick Prep

First, you’ll want to hard boil three eggs in a pan, 8 minutes is plenty. When the eggs cooled down, peel the shells and remove the egg whites, then chop up the whites coarsely and set them aside. We won’t be using the yolks in this recipe.

While the eggs are boiling, you’ll want to shred 2 cups of zucchini using a mandolin or one of the other clever tools we mentioned in our last recipe. Drop the shredded Zucchini in a colander and squeeze it by hand or with a spatula to remove the liquid. This will make it easier to mix and cook in the following steps.

Find a small bowl and add all the zucchini, along with a finely chopped up medium onion, half a cup of dried breadcrumbs, two lightly beat whole eggs, a dash of salt and a dash of cayenne pepper.  After that’s mixed together, you’ll gently stir in the cooked egg whites that you made in the first step.

Now it’s time to cook up our Zucchini Burgers

Take a skillet and put it on the stove over medium low heat. Add a tablespoon of canola oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, it’s hot enough.

The next steps are little bit tricky — it’s like making drop cookies right on the stove — so you’ll need both a spoon and a spatula at the ready. Using the spoon, drop your zucchini mix into the skillet, about two thirds of a cup is perfect. Flatten it into a burger shape with your spatula, and fry it until it’s golden brown on both sides (about 5 minutes in total should be good).

If you’re an experienced cook with a large skillet, you can probably fry all four at one time. But, if it’s the first time you’re trying this recipe, you might want to cook one at a time to get a feel for how long it needs to cook on your stove. Also, you may need to add a little more canola oil as you cook the second, third and fourth burger.

Fully Dressed Hamburgers?

The next step is really up to you, it depends on how you like to eat your hamburgers. Before slathering on a lot of mayonnaise or other high-fat content spreads, you owe it to yourself to give it a try without a lot of condiments— maybe just some lettuce, a slice of tomato and a slice of onion on a nice whole-wheat or gluten-free hamburger bun would be perfect.

We think you’ll find this an excellent low-fat alternative to regular hamburgers and hope you’ll try it at your next Fourth of July Backyard Barbecue.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need the recipe:

Shopping List

3 to 5 Fresh Zucchinis (Enough to Make 2 Cups of Shredded Zucchini)

Five Eggs (Three to Hard Boil, Two to Cook with.)

1/2 Cup Dried Breadcrumbs

Dash Salt

Dash Cayenne Pepper

2 Tablespoons Canola Oil

Optional Condiments

Four Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

Four Lettuce Leaves.

Four Slices Tomato

Four Slices Onion

 

The Normal Heart premieres on HBO this Sunday May 25th at 8 p.m.

The-Normal-Heart-movie-adaptation-of-Larry-Kramer-play

The Tony award-winning play, The Normal Heart, which first appeared off-Broadway in 1985, makes its motion picture debut this Sunday, May 25th, on HBO.

Three years ago “Glee” co-creator Ryan Murphy optioned the rights to Larry Kramer’s passionate, angry and confrontational stage play about the apocalyptic AIDS health crisis faced by the New York City gay community in the nineteen eighties. Filming for the project began last summer on location in New York City.

Murphy chose to cast Hollywood A-list star Julia Roberts in the role of Dr. Emma Brookner. According to playwright Larry Kramer, this character was based on the life of Manhattan physician, Dr. Linda J. Laubenstein, who in 1981 discovered some of the first mysterious cases of what would then become known as HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Laubenstein and co-author Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien were first to publish their discovery of an unusual outbreak of skin lesions (caused by Kaposi’s sarcoma) among young gay men in New York City. An outspoken and brash fighter, Dr. Laubenstein fought tirelessly against public and private institutions whom she felt stood in the way of containing, treating and curing the AIDS epidemic. Incredibly, she herself suffered terribly from another epidemic–childhood polio—which left her a wheel-chair bound paraplegic from age five. In 1992 she passed away from complications of a recurrence of polio; she was only 45 years old.

The Normal Heart resonates with me because I was active at the front lines of the battle against HIV/AIDS during these years. I was on the faculty at M.D. Anderson working at the AIDS Hospital here in Houston when the stage play premiered. I even got a call from Larry Kramer once, talking about our activism here in Houston and our protests when the AIDS Hospital was closed.

I look forward to seeing the movie version of The Normal Heart. Having seen the original play, I know that it’s a powerful reminder of the traumatic early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The playwright Larry Kramer said it best in the printed pamphlet which accompanied the original off-Broadway production, a portion of which we’ve reprinted below:

Heartfelt Plea from Larry Kramer

Please know that everything in The Normal Heart happened. These were and are real people who lived and spoke and died, and are presented here as best I could. Several more have died since, including Bruce, whose name was Paul Popham, and Tommy, whose name was Rodger McFarlane and who became my best friend, and Emma, whose name was Dr. Linda Laubenstein. She died after a return bout of polio and another trip to an iron lung. Rodger, after building three gay/AIDS agencies from the ground up, committed suicide in despair. On his deathbed at Memorial, Paul called me (we’d not spoken since our last fight in this play) and told me to never stop fighting.

Visit HBO’s The Normal Heart web page for more information and showtimes.

 

Dog’s Best Friend: Where can you find Houston Dog Friendly Restaurants, Cafes and Pubs?

Haji and Ranger are Korean Jindo dogs that love to walk to the cafe and to the beach. Both were adopted into their 'forever home' thanks to dog foster listings on Petfinder.com.

Haji and Ranger are Korean Jindo dogs that love to walk to the cafe and to the beach. Both were adopted into their ‘forever home’ thanks to dog foster listings on Petfinder.com.

“Taking your Dog for a Walk” is this Month’s Houston Healthy Outdoor Activity.

That’s right. Take your dog for a walk. And why not? The weather has been reasonably cool and those doggies aren’t going to walk themselves! Walking your dog to the dog park, around the neighborhood, or over to the local cafe or pub is a blend of exercise, social interaction and relaxation that can’t be beat.

An article in this week’s Washington Post reminds us that play is just as important for the mental health and physical well-being of dogs as it is for ourselves. Colorado University Professor Marc Bekoff, who wrote the book “The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy – and Why They Matter” has conducted years of in-depth research on how animals, like our pet dogs, express the full range of emotion, from anger to empathy and caring. He explains how animals show their emotions:

 

Professor Marc Bekoff looks into the behavior and emotions of animals.

Of course if you are a dog lover, you don’t need a PhD to know when your canine friend is smiling. And if he or she is not smiling, just pick up that leash and get walking. You’ll both be happier and healthier for the exercise.

Thanks to Paws on Patios for Helping Make Houston Dog Friendly

We’ve really got to hand it to the good folks behind Paws on Patios (find them on Facebook), our hometown grassroots movement for allowing pets on outdoor patios at Houston restaurants, bars and cafes. Not that long ago, the Houston Public Health Department forbade restaurants from having dogs on restaurant patios. But thanks to Paws on Patios, there is now an approved process through which local businesses can get certified by the Houston Health Department to provide a clean, safe and convivial place for canines and their people to hang out together.

We’ve included the full list of Houston dog friendly restaurants, cafes and bars that are certified by the city at this end of this article. If your favorite hangout isn’t on the list, tell the manager to consider making an application with the city.

Top Houston Dog Friendly Tips from our Houston Dog Owner Friends

But first we’d like to share a couple of tips from our dog-loving friends. Number One: check out the Bone Yard Drinkery on Washington. They have a fully enclosed 7000 ft.² dog park for your canine friend to run around in while you socialize with other Houston dog lovers.

Secondly, if you haven’t heard, there is an ongoing concern about pet treats, particularly those manufactured China. The FDA has been investigating a large number of suspicious pet deaths but have not yet been able to link them directly to these imported pet treats. However, in an abundance of caution, Petco has announced they will quit stocking Chinese manufactured pet treats.

Fortunately, we have many options for pet food and treats sold at locally-owned Houston stores. In the Rice Military neighborhood, there is the famed Wabash Feed on Washington. And on the east side of The Heights neighborhood (on Main Street just west of I-45 North Freeway) we recommend the Quality Feed and Garden Company, which features Victor dog food — made in Texas from Texas ingredients. And don’t forget to check out Natural Pawz, which stocks raw bones and other treats for your pets.

If you can’t get a house-sitter when you need to travel, Mollie’s Mutt House pet hotel comes well recommended. And when your dog needs a checkup or treatment for illness, we consistently hear great things about the veterinarians at the West Alabama Animal Clinic.

Finally, if you’re looking for a pet, consider adopting one. This Memorial Day weekend is a perfect time, as Houston’s Pet Shelter BARC is offering a “Name Your Price” Adoption Special. Hundreds of animals up for adoption are also on display online at Petfinder.com. And if you’re living situation doesn’t allow you to take in a pet forever, there are many ways to get involved, such as volunteering for the Houston SPCA or other dog fostering programs. If you are a fan of a particular breed, searching on Petfinder.com can help you get in touch with fostering groups dedicated to particular dog breed or other pets, such a cats, birds, even horses and farm animals.

Now it’s time to grab that leash, get outside, get active and have fun!

Do you have Houston Dog Friendly Tips to Share?

Leave us a note in the comments below!

Current List of Houston Dog Friendly Food Establishments
(with HDHHS Approved Dog Patios)

Antidote Coffee 729 Studewood, 77007
Baba Vega Express 2607 Grant Street, 77006
Back Street Cafe 1103 S. Shepherd Dr., 77019
Barnaby’s Cafe 1701 S. Shepherd, 77019
Barnaby’s Cafe 5750 Woodway, 77057
Barnaby’s Cafe 801 Congress #175, 77002
Barnaby’s Cafe/Baby Barnaby’s  604 Fairview, 77006
Berryhill Baja Grill 3407 Montrose, A-8, 77006
BlackFinn American Grill 1910 Bagby, Suite 100
Boulevard Cafe 1030 Heights Blvd., 77008
BRC 519 Shepherd, 77007
Brick House Tavern and Tap 12910 Northwest FWY, 77040
Canopy 3939 Montrose Ste C, 77006
Celtic Gardens 2300 Louisiana, 77006
Christian’s Tailgate Bar & Grill II 2000 Bagby, Suite 106, 77002
Christian’s Tailgate Bar & Grill Ill 2820 White Oak, 77007
Coco’s Crepes & Coffee 218 Gray, Unit A, 77002
Cottonwood 3422 N. Shepherd, 77018
Eleven XI Resturant & Bar 607 West Gray Street, 77019
The Front Porch Pub 217 Gray St., 77008
Gratifi  (was Ziggy’s Bar and Grill) 302 Fairview, 77006
The Grove 1611 Lamar, 77010
Hugo’s  1600 Westheimer Rd, 77006
Inversion Coffee House 1953 Montrose, 77006
J. Black’s Houston-Washington Avenue, LLC 110 S. Heights Blvd. 77007
Jimmy’s Ice House 2803 White Oak, 77007
The King’s Head 1809 Eldridge Parkway, 77077
The Lake House 1500 McKinney, 77010
Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette 4224 San Felipe, 77007
Little Big’s Montrose 2703 Montrose, 77006
L’Oiivier Restaurant and Bar 240 Westheimer Rd., 77006
Lola 1102 Yale Street, #300, 77008
Lucky’s Pub Heights 2520 Houston Ave., 77009
Mia’s Table 3131 Argonne St., 77098
Mission Burritos 801 2245 W. Alabama, 77098
Mission Burritos 802 1609 Durham, 77007
Natchee’s Supper ‘n Punch 3622 Main, 77002
Petite Sweets 2700 W. Alabama, 77098
Pluckers Wing Bar 1400 Shepherd, 77007
Porch Swing Pub 69 Heights Blvd., 77007
Pub Fiction 2303 Smith St., 77006
Ruggles Cafe & Bakery 2365 Rice Blvd . Suite A, 77005
Saint Danes, LLC 502 Elgin, 77006
Shade Cafe LLC 250 West 19th, 77008
Starbucks 2050 West Gray, 77019
Starbucks 2029 West Gray, 77019
Taco Milagro Kirby 2555 Kirby, 77019
Tila’s Restaurante & Bar 1111 S. Shepherd, 77019
Winston’s on Washington 5111 Washington, 77007
Ziggy’s Bar & Grill Downtown 702 Main