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5 Ways You Can Help Those In Houston – Right Now

5 Ways You Can Help Those In Houston – Right Now



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Hurricane Harvey has devastated more than 450,000 Houston residents who are in dire need of disaster aid and has sent Texas, and many along the Gulf Coast, reeling.

What’s happening in Houston this week is heartbreaking for most, and as with all natural disasters, there’s a sense of hopelessness that harsh weather can bring. As a country, we’ve had the chance to see plenty of the terrible destruction that Hurricane Harvey has brought to one of Texas’ most vibrant cities.

The Los Angeles Times reports that nearly 30,000 people living in Houston now find themselves in shelters following widespread damage. More than 450,000 city residents are looking for disaster aid, and the National Guard as well as external groups such as the American Red Cross are already straining their resources.

But you don’t need to be in Houston to help as well.

When it comes to providing relief to those in Houston and the broader area affected by Harvey, here are some quick ways you can help those in need:

1) Houston Food Bank

This is one of Houston’s leading food bank that served more than 83 million meals in the last year alone. While their facility is currently ramping up to reopen after flood damage city-wide, they are asking volunteers to prepare to start serving those in dire need in the city and have established a Harvey-related donation portal for those who are willing to help. You can donate right here.

2) San Antonio Food Bank

Photo: San Antonio Food Bank.

Many of those displaced in Houston and in other coastal communities are heading to the San Antonio area to seek refuge. The San Antonio Food Bank could use your help to address all of their residents and visitors while the storm continues. Donate to them right here.

3) Coalition For The Homeless

This is an umbrella organization coordinating shelters and organizations across Houston, and given the immense damage to homes and properties in the city, we know they could use your help. You can learn more about their mission and donate online via their website.

4) Houston SPCA

It is an increasingly devastating narrative to hear – families are leaving behind their beloved pets and animals in homes in the wake of widespread emergency evacuation. You can help with rescue efforts for all life in Houston thanks to the Houston SPCA. Donate to their organization right here.

5) American Red Cross

Always at the forefront of disaster, the American Red Cross is in dire need of additional help. Support relief efforts via their website.


Delayed grief: Local congregations help mourners remember those lost to COVID

People pray for loved ones lost during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

Mike Haney speaks of losing his father to COVID-19 during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

Parishioners bow their heads in prayer during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

Aver LeMalle, left, and his wife, Kionna, light candles in memory of loved ones lost during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

People kneel to pray after lighting candles for loved ones lost during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

People light candles and pray for loved ones lost during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

Mike Haney speaks of losing his father to COVID-19 during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

People line up to light candles and pray for loved ones lost during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

People light candles and pray for loved ones lost during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

People line up to light candles and pray for loved ones lost during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

People line up to light candles and pray for loved ones lost during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

The Spring Interfaith Council will present a “Time of Remembrance” virtual memorial service on YouTube May 25. Pictured here is a previous remembrance event held by another local faith community: People line up to light candles and pray for loved ones lost during a "COVID service of remembrance" at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church's service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

The Rev. Dr. Jarrett Stephens prays during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

Chris and Rosa Villarreal pause to take photos of photos of Chris’ mother and sister, Connie and Jeannie, during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

The Rev. Dr. Jarrett Stephens prays during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

People line up to light candles and pray for loved ones lost during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

People line up to light candles and pray for loved ones lost during a “COVID service of remembrance” at Champion Forest Baptist Church Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Houston. The church’s service was for all who lost someone during the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not have the normal way to grieve in a full memorial service.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer Show More Show Less

About 200 candles illuminated the altar at Champion Forest Baptist Church&rsquos recent COVID Service of Remembrance. Each light represented a loved one lost in the past year.

As pastor Jarrett Stephens looked out into the pews, filled with hundreds of church members and area residents, his thoughts turned to waves of grief created by the pandemic.

So many loved ones lost to the coronavirus, he explained, and there were others who died at the hospital from unrelated causes who still could not have visitors.

&ldquoNo one should die alone,&rdquo Stephens said. &ldquoThe stories I&rsquove heard have been heart-crushing.&rdquo

His thoughts turned to the chaplains and ministers who were often allowed to visit only by video or phone &mdash and the families who could not see their loved ones in the hospital. Then, after a death, individuals were not able to mourn in the usual ways.

&ldquoBecause of protocols, they couldn&rsquot have a ceremony to honor their loved ones,&rdquo he said. &ldquoYou can read statistics, but when it hits close to home, it&rsquos a gamechanger. When it&rsquos someone you love, it changes everything.&rdquo

Stephens decided to host a service of remembrance to give individuals an opportunity to mourn and honor the losses that occurred during the pandemic.

&ldquoGod put it on my heart,&rdquo he said. &ldquoIt was our way to provide some healing.&rdquo

During his sermon, Stephens shared a message of comfort.

&ldquoWe can hope, believe and rejoice that we will see our loved ones again,&rdquo he said.

And he reminded guests that their loved ones were not truly alone in their final moments.

&ldquoGod was with them,&rdquo he said. &ldquoAs you were walking on that path, God is also with you.&rdquo

Stephens said that many who attended later told him, &ldquoIt finally gave me an opportunity to grieve.&rdquo


6 Impactful Ways to Help Migrant Families Separated at the Border

A protester attends the "Families Belong Together" rally in New York, the United States, on June 30, 2018. Tens of thousands of Americans marched and rallied across the United States to protest the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy resulting in over 2,000 children separated from their families who crossed the border illegally. Xinhua News Agency / Getty Images

Though some migrant children separated from their parents have been reunited with their families in accordance with a federal-court-mandated deadline this week, there are still thousands of children being held in shelters. This could be seriously detrimental to the mental health of the kids and parents involved. Many of us feel moved to help families separated at the border as a result of the administration’s immigration policy—but how?

Family separations started ramping up as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy announced April 6, defined as “an escalated effort to prosecute those who choose to illegally cross our border.” The Justice Department cannot prosecute adults alongside their children, and since early May, over 2,000 kids have been separated from their parents and held in a care system run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Reports suggest that families seeking asylum were separated under the policy, too—even though seeking asylum is not a crime.

On June 20, after an outpouring of outrage over zero-tolerance family separations, President Trump signed an executive order instructing the Department of Homeland Security to keep parents and children in custody together "to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations.” Six days later, a federal district court judge mandated that children under the age of 5 be reunified with their parents by July 10, and children 5 and up by July 27.

As of July 12, HHS reports, just 57 of the 103 migrant children under age 5 being held in detention had been reunited with their parents. Reports suggest a harried and disorganized process to locate and perform background checks on parents, and to transport children for reunification. In some unresolved cases the parents have been deported, children entered the country with people who were not biologically related to them, the parents have been deemed a danger to their children, or the parents simply have not been located yet.

According to HHS, there are still "under 3,000" children in government custody who were separated from their families at the border. Minors stay in custody in one of the roughly 100 Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters HHS operates in approximately 17 states—kids are held at these shelters for an average of 51 days—until an appropriate sponsor has been found to care for them. That could be a parent, relative living in the U.S., or foster care.

Many of us are moved by images of crying children, alone and scared. Fundraising efforts are going on around the country to support organizations that are working to protect immigrants and bring families back together. If you’d like to find ways to get more closely involved, here are some options for donating your time and efforts (and/or money) in ways that benefit kids and families directly.

Through the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, you can volunteer to be an immigrant child’s advocate in Chicago, Harlingen, Texas Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, San Antonio, or Washington, D.C. These advocates volunteer to “spend time with and advocate on behalf of an individual unaccompanied immigrant child while he or she is subject to deportation proceedings,” helping kids talk through options, accompanying them to court hearings and interviews, and supporting them through this tough time. This is a weekly commitment for people over 21 years old, and volunteers from all professions and backgrounds are welcome. There is a particular need for bilingual volunteers. Learn more here.

Many children separated from their families at the border end up in the foster care system—an already greatly taxed system that houses over 430,000 kids total. You can find a local CASA program in your area, and volunteer to advocate for a child in foster care (migrant or otherwise). You don’t need any specific background or education to become a CASA, you just need to be over 21 and able to commit to 30 hours of training and staying with at least one case all the way through (which takes a year and a half, on average). Learn more here.

Comfort Case is an organization that donates backpacks or duffel bags filled with pj's, hygiene necessities such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, and comforting teddy bears to kids in foster care—a seemingly small thing that can mean an enormous amount to a child in the system. The group just launched an “emergency appeal” to raise $150,000 to create enough comfort cases for 2,000 kids, who may have crossed the border with little more than the clothes on their backs. Learn more here.

Through Freedom for Immigrants, you can volunteer to visit immigrant people held in detention. This can offer them a link to the outside world, a listening ear, and reassurance that they are not alone. There are visitation networks currently set up in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. If there isn’t one in your state or area, you can contact Freedom for Immigrants about starting your own. Learn more here.

Through the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), you can learn how to transform your place of worship, business, or school into a sanctuary space—meaning you can help shield immigrants from deportation. RAICES provides trainings giving you options on how to help immigrant families and inform you about your rights. What a sanctuary space actually involves totally depends—some actually shelter immigrants, while others simply provide material and emotional support. Offering sanctuary could also be as simple as your congregation pledging not to provide information to law enforcement about undocumented individuals unless they are served with a warrant to do so. Learn more here.

The CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, Immigration Justice Campaign, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), American Gateways, UnLocal, and Human Rights First are just a few of the organizations seeking pro bono volunteers. Volunteers may appear in court on behalf of children or parents, represent clients at the so-called credible fear interviews required for asylum seekers, do research, and draft documents. Some of these organizations focus on immigrant women and children, and many don’t require a background in immigration or asylum law, but check out the specifics of each call for volunteers.


Help for Houston

Once a month, my friends Mel, Sheaffer and I host this link up where we share some random and fun stuff that&rsquos up with us&hellipbut our hearts have been so heavy this week that we thought we would all focus on Hurricane Harvey relief instead. If you have blogged WUW this week, save it and link to us next Wednesday, September 6th instead.

This week has been devastating for so many. I&rsquom not even sure if that word does it justice. Like most of you, we have been doing as much as we can from where we are. It&rsquos just so heartbreaking. My dad goes on mission trips with a church in Houston and they were supposed to have left last Saturday for Nepal&hellipbut instead, they&rsquore now &ldquoon mission&rdquo helping the people right there in their own community instead. It&rsquos such an incredibly devastating turn of events. Over the last 25 years, my dad has offered help and assistance leading up to and after 15 different hurricanes and Andrew has been with him for the last three. I was so proud of my brother this week for driving down to Houston and doing the same thing. PEOPLE STILL NEED HELP! I know it&rsquos not possible for all of us to physically go and help, but you can make a donation or like a lot of us are also doing, collecting items people will need after the storm ceases. I know my Facebook feed has been filled with people who need everything from clothing to diapers to food to medicine and more.

Today, the three of us made a list of some of the places where your donations would go help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Of course, this is not all of them, so if you have other ideas/options/suggestions, please comment and share.

My heart has been heavy all week long and my prayers have not ceased for those affected. God bless you guys as you all do what you can from where you are to help those in need, and God bless everyone who has been affected. I am praying for you.

You’ll Also Love

Comments

I’m headed to Houston on Friday. If you are a RN or MD please contact medical staffing network. The hospitals in Houston are in need of major assistance, some medical staff have been working 72 hours straight without relief. Still praying for Houston and Louisiana. http://www.supersimpleways.com

Cirrus Medical Staffing has jobs for the Hurricane Relief too. If you know of anyone please reach out to me at [email protected]

Thank you for volunteering your time to help those in need!

Prayers for these individuals! I cannot imagine what they are going through!

This has been so devastating to watch. But such a blessing to see Americans come together to help each other. I am not saddened by the people who have helpless animals left behind or lost. We have been praying to find the best way to help our fellow Americans in Texas. Thanks for the links. We will be donating to the Texas humane society. Blessings.

My thoughts and prayers are going out to everyone involved with this tragedy! Thank you for all the information.

Elizabeth Feldpausch says

Thank you so much for this. This flooding is truly unimaginable. My parents evacuated their home yesterday by kayak. My family and I will most likely have to leave today because of the rising waters in the bayou. It kills me to have to leave the home where I brought my babies home (one only 6 weeks old) but seeing so many come together help provides hope!

Praying for Houston! So many good resources here!

Yes, praying so hard. Love seeing people coming together.

My sisters house had 4.5 feet of water. She is pregnant and her and her husband have 2 small boys. It’s been a super tough week for them and we know it’ll be a long road ahead. Please keep her family in your prayers.

Lifting all of Texas in prayer. Our company does 100% match when employees make contributions. I donated to the Red Cross and they matched my donations. Many companies do that so I would encourage your readers to check with their employers. Our company itself also made a $50,000 donation. It has been amazing to see so many people come into rescue and help those affected.

Thank you for sharing. The devastation is horrible. I blogged for today, and wanted to share the link because there are some additional ways to help with some being time sensitive. http://theweltefamilyblog.blogspot.com/2017/08/what-up-wednesday.html?m=1

God bless the people of Texas. Thank you for your post.

So so glad you shared this Shay. I know a lot of people who have been looking for ways to help and it’s so helpful to have them all in one spot. Sending so many prayers to Houston❤️

I cannot thank you enough for blogging about all the ways you can help. My parents house and grandparents house flooded and we are just devastated. It is so unreal seeing my hometown underwater and I feel so helpless being away at college and not being able to physically be there and help. Thanks again for all the prayers Shay, I really appreciate it.

I truly cannot imagine what these people are going through, everyone coming together to help is such a blessing


Ways to Give Back

Houston&aposs restaurants are the heart and soul of our beloved city and they&aposre in desperate need of our assistance during these uncertain times.  Many of your favorite restaurants have initiated GoFundMe campaigns and other fundraisers to help support their employees. In addition to restaurants, entertainment venues like White Oak Music Hall are also in need. Check out the links below to find out how you can help.

 
  • Donate to Southern Smoke Foundation&aposs Emergency Relief Fund for people in the food and beverage industry in crisis. Donations can be made here. If you are in the food and beverage industry and looking for relief, please click here.
  • Donate to Houston Shift Meal, which is providing meals to out-of-work hospitality professionals. Click here.
  • Find your favorite bartender on this Google sheet and tip them virtually. The USGB National Charity Fund is also raising money for the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. To donate click here.
  •   Support your favorite local restaurants by ordering carryout, delivery and other deals
  • ਍onate to The Greater Houston Restaurant Associationਊnd Houston Food Bank by supporting  KeepHoustonFed.com. Customers have the option to add $1 onto their bill that will be donated to the Houston Food Bank.

How to Help The Arts & Museums 

With seasons and shows canceled, it will be difficult for our performing arts organizations and museums to come back in full force next year. If there&aposs ever a time to support the arts, it&aposs now! The show must go on. Click on the logos below to make a donation.

Community Activities

Houston Food Bank

The Houston Food Bank has been sending trucks of food to HISD schools during the week and assembling boxes of food for senior citizens. They are currently looking for more volunteers or donations. You can also donate to Houston Astro Alex Bregman&aposs FEEDHOU campaign here.

Second Servings&apos mission is to alleviate hunger and reduce waste in Houston by rescuing perfectly edible surplus food, and delivering it directly to local charities. To donate, click here.

Mattress Mack of Gallery Furniture

Mattress Mack is asking for donations of toiletries, cleaning supplies and non-perishables for struggling senior citizens or you can volunteer to help distribute these items here.

United Way of Greater Houston 

The United Way of Greater Houston and the Greater Houston Community Foundation have created the COVID-19 Recovery Fund to assist those affected by this crisis and the unforeseen economic conditions. To donate, click here. 

Houston Music Foundation

The Houston Music Foundation and Artist for Artists have created a crisis relief fund to raise funds for Houston-area musicians. To donate, click here. For more information about Artist for Artists, click here

Satellite Houston

This East End dive bar has become a favorite live music location among Houstonians and is really experiencing the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit their GoFundMe page to make a donation. 

Ronald McDonald House Houston 

The organization provides families with sick children a home close in proximity to the hospital where their family members are receiving critical medical care. To donate, please click here

Volunteer Houston

Volunteer Houston connects individuals, groups, and companies with nonprofit agencies to transform the greater Houston community for good through volunteerism. The organization has converted their website into a virtual volunteer reception center where they are posting the most pressing volunteer needs related to COVID-19 responses. To volunteer, click here.


Learn how you can help victims of Hurricane Harvey

Rossen will kick off TODAY's "Helping After Harvey" initiative on Tuesday Sept. 5 at the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (1800 N. Lamar Street), which will be accepting donations from 5:30 a.m.-9 a.m. local time.

People are encouraged to bring nonperishable food, bottled water, toilet paper, paper towels, bleach, mops, trash bags, school supplies, new underwear, socks, new pillows, blankets, sheets, toiletries and feminine hygiene products.


The 24 Easiest Healthy Ingredient Swaps You Can Make Right Now

In our pre-New Years fantasies, the shiny, opportunity-filled days of January were occupied with lighthearted meal prep sessions, breezy daily trips to the gym, and watching the holiday pounds slip off without a hitch. In reality, getting back into the healthy swing of things can seriously suck.

In an ideal world we𠆝 all be able to resist our favorite everyday indulgences and kick our health goals into high gear with all of the steamed veggies and lean meats we could handle, but we’re humans and have needs. Specifically: cheese, wine, and carb-filled needs.

Luckily, making better dining choices doesn’t have to be a total sacrifice. After all, we’re much more likely to stick to our healthful resolutions if they don’t completely devoid us of joy and flavor. These simple ingredient swaps can be taken one day at a time and be sustained for much longer than sudden, strict diets. It might not be totally painless, but we’re certain you’ll start to feel healthier in no time, one swap at a time.

Watch: 5 Steps to Clean Eating

Nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream – When added to dressings and dips, or used as a garnish on soups and Mexican inspired dishes, this tart topping can replicate the creamy tanginess of sour cream, which is more caloric and less nutritionally beneficial.

Corn tortillas instead of flour – Choosing a tortilla made with a whole grain (corn) over white flour means increasing fiber intake while cutting back on carbs. Corn tortillas also tend to be smaller than their flour cousins, reducing the calorie content of each individual taco.

Oil and vinegar instead of bottled dressings – While store-bought dressings are typically laden with extra calories and mysterious ingredients you can’t pronounce, making your own simple combinations at home will help you keep track of exactly what’s going into your salad. Try out this Balsamic Vinaigrette recipe, or a Greek Vinaigrette.

Wine and beer instead of mixed drinks and cocktails – Though swearing off alcohol altogether is obviously the ideal health move, for those of us who need to imbibe from time-to-time, stick to the basics. Beer and wine have tend to contain less sugar and fewer calories than mixed drinks—particularly sweet and fruity beverages like pina coladas and margaritas.

Riced cauliflower instead of white rice – While the white rice you𠆝 typically serve at the bottom of your burrito bowls and Asian dishes is pretty much void of nutrients, this 100 percent vegetable alternative feels almost like the real thing and is packed with vitamins and fiber. Make your own in a food processor or pick up a pre-riced frozen blend at the grocery store, and flavor with the spices and seasonings you would typically add to your rice dishes. If you’re preparing an Indian feast, this Turmeric Cauliflower Rice will be a hit.

Radishes instead of corn chips - While chili is typically a healthy, comforting winter dish, the corn chips, cheese, and sour cream piled on top won’t do you any favors. Ditch the cheese, sub in Greek yogurt, and swap corn chips for crunchy radish slices. While you’re at it, try dipping lightly salted radishes in your favorite salsa or guacamole.

Hard-boiled eggs instead of fried – Boiling eggs instead of frying in butter or oil not only cuts calories but also eliminates intake of saturated fats. Plus, hard boiled eggs can be kept in the fridge for quick, protein-packed breakfasts on the go and lunch salads with minimal effort.

Banana nice cream instead of ice cream – When you get a craving for something creamy and sweet, try swapping your favorite dairy and added sugar-filled carton with this Banana Ice Cream, made with frozen bananas and your choice of healthy ingredients, like berries, cinnamon, or cocoa powder.

Lettuce wraps instead of tacos - By trading lettuce wraps for dishes that require tortillas or sandwich wraps, you’ll not only cut calories but also give your meal a nutritional boost. Try this Asian lettuce wrap recipe, or fill the lettuce cups with your favorite taco night ingredients.

Onion slices instead of pita chips – Make like a Tel Aviv local and swap crunchy onion slices for pita chips while snacking on hummus. Not only will the carbs and calories be reduced, but the slightly acidic bite of the onion pairs perfectly with some homemade traditional hummus.

Sashimi instead of sushi – While sushi might seem like a healthier dining option, the white rice used in most rolls isn’t ideal for those cutting carbs or focussing on nutrient intake. Try switching to sashimi for the fish flavors you love without the extra calories.

Homemade nut butter instead of store-bought – Instantly reduce your added sugar intake by making your own nut butters at home. While it might take a little patience, creating your own healthier product will be worth it in the end.

Sparkling water instead of soda – Naturally flavored sparkling waters like La Croix and Polar Seltzer have experienced a boom in popularity𠅎specially among reformed soda addicts looking to get their fizzy fix without the huge sugar, calorie, and chemical content of traditional sodas.

Nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan – Steal a move out of the vegan playbook and try swapping Parmesan for nutritional yeast on your pastas and salads. This ingredient, which has a rich, slightly cheesy flavor, is packed with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, and is a beloved alternative for dairy-free dinners.

Spinach or kale for iceberg lettuce – While iceberg lettuce isn’t necessarily bad for you, when it comes to salad bases, it’s about as nutritionally lacking as it gets. Switch to darker, leafy greens like kale or spinach, which is rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Calcium, and Iron.

Real fruit instead of fruit juice – When you get that sweet, fruity craving, reach for something straight from the produce aisle instead of the fridge. Rather than sipping a glass of orange juice, which has none of the fiber from the orange and often includes added sugar, opt for the real thing instead.

Zucchini noodles instead of spaghetti – While there’s no pretending a “noodle” made out of vegetables is going to taste or feel exactly like the real thing, for pasta addicts looking to cut down their weekly consumption these spiralized noodles can help. Plus, with a really killer Bolognese on top you’ll barely notice the difference.

OR, try an alternative pasta - Swap your typical flour-filled pasta for a box of one of these trendy plant-based alternative pastas, which are gluten-free and packed with protein.

Mustard instead of mayo – Replace the high-fat and more calorie-laden sandwich condiment with its tangier, nearly calorie-free counterpart. If you’re looking for a healthy way to replicate that creamy, fatty flavor, try spreading avocado on your sandwich instead.

Air-popped popcorn for potato chips – By swapping your favorite crunchy chips with this airy alternative, you’ll not only cut down on saturated fat and calorie consumption, but will also be free to get creative with your popcorn seasonings and flavors.

Apple slices for crackers – Whether you prefer your crackers paired with cheddar or peanut butter, crunchy apple slices make for a tasty, nutritional alternative.

Whole-grain toast or English muffins for bagels – Eating healthy doesn’t mean cutting out the carbs completely. At your next brunch party, swap out your bagels for a lower-carb, whole grain option, piled with low-fat cream cheese, smoked salmon, and capers. Just make sure a whole grain is the first ingredient on the label to ensure more fiber, protein, and micronutrient rich products.

Edamame for peanuts – Swapping out these green legumes for their nutty cousin will mean more protein and fewer calories. Sprinkle them with a little salt for a similar savory bite without the excess oil.

Cinnamon for sugar – Whether you’re addicted to sugar in your coffee or sprinkled over your oats, cinnamon makes a great, slightly-sweet stand-in for those trying to cut down on sugar intake—which should be just about everyone.


10 Houston Blogs To Follow Right Now

Here at Mommy Poppins, we are always striving to give Houston parents the best resources for living it up in the Bayou City. And what better way to do that than recommend some local blogs that highlight Houston hotspots, fun and easy DIY projects, and fashion tips (lord do I need those fashion tips). And we want to hear your favorites! Send us an email to [email protected] to let us know where you get your daily dose of parenting blogging goodness. And without further ado, and in no particular order, here are 10 local bloggers to start following right now:

My Little Cup of Life - If you love traveling - with or without kids - you will love Noa Enav. Her blog has a few posts about Houston, but the real gems are in her blog's travel section where she writes about her adventures across the globe with her little one.

C.Style - This fashion and lifestyle blog is written by an honest mother of two boys. While some of her posts focus on the kids, most are about making yourself feel beautiful, where to find the best shopping in Houston, and fun tips - like this great post on fun girls' getaway spots around town.

Snapshots and My Thoughts - Aside from the beautiful photography, Snapshots and My Thoughts has a plethora of great content, from reviews of local hotspots to recipes and book recommendations. And the DIY section has some fabulous finds for the Pinterest-lovers out there.

Sugar & Cloth - But for the truly Pinterest-obsessed (I feel you, mama - all of those late nights spent pinning 50 kinds of chocolate chip cookie recipes because you have to have the best for your little angels), Sugar & Cloth has tons of recipes, DIY ideas, entertaining tips, and more to keep you busy for months.

Dapper House Designs - We are big fans of any blog with ideas on how to live life on a budget, and Dapper House Designs provides just that. The author is an interior-design expert and blogs about how to beautify your home without breaking the bank. Because there's nothing worse than setting up your beautiful, brand new furniture just hours before your toddler gets a stomach virus.

Veronika's Blushing - Love clothes? Love shopping? Or, do you love just trying to not look like the walking dead when under the public eye? If you fit into any of these three categories, start reading Veronika's Blushing right now. She can help even the most style-challenged of us look hip. There is a family section with product recommendations and more.

The Simple Parent - Author Mariah is a former teacher, so her DIY and crafts section is full of fun activities to do at home with the kids. Crafts with complex set-up are just a waste because the kids will get bored after 10 minutes anyway, which is what makes the content on The Simple Parent so great - all of her ideas really are simple!

Slightly Overcaffeinated - With a blog bio that includes, "I require coffee and wine at regular intervals," it's not hard to see why we love reading Slightly Overcaffeinated. Author Candy writes about the real. stuff of parenthood, from the "joys" of 100th day of school celebrations to surviving summer break with the kids.

Lipstick & Brunch - As a mom, I have little time to put on decent makeup, let alone actually go shopping for makeup. Nicole brings it all together in her trendy blog with the latest makeup and fashion trends, and she also has great reviews on yummy new restaurants to try around town.

Crumbine Ed - Picking the right school for your kid can be harder than an application for college. Blogger Aisha believes that it is very important to find the school that will meet your kid's needs. In her blog, she gives advice on how to find the right school for your son or daughter all the way from pre-K to 12th grade.


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Harris County Judge Orders Bars and Clubs Closed, Restaurants to Move to Take Out, Pick Up and Delivery Only

Nearby Cities and Counties Follow Houston and Harris County's Lead &mdash to an Extent [UPDATED]

Thursday's Coronavirus News: Port Closes 2 Terminals, Abbott Closes DPS Offices [UPDATED]

Making the point that Houston restaurants have given so much to the community whenever there has been a natural disaster or major event in the city, a number of Houston restaurateurs today signed a letter to Mayor Sylvester Turner asking him for help during the coronavirus crisis.

On Monday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner each order bars and clubs closed in their jurisdictions and restaurants to stop offering dine-in service. Since then, many restaurants that previously had little to nothing to do with takeour, delivery or pickup, have been transitioning into those efforts.

Abbie Byrom, the fiancee of Leonard Botello, owner of Truth Barbecue, said she wrote it Tuesday night after a long day of helping out at the restaurant on Heights Boulevard.

The help she's asking for includes everything from a delay in paying sales tax to mandating landlords charge them rent at cost to offer paid sick leave for employees.

While nationally the airlines and hotels have been advocating for help after the coronavirus -inspired drop in business, she said she "was no really seeing anything where someone was advocating for us."

So she wrote out her thoughts and then emailed them around to a small group of trusted friends. After receiving a thumbs up, she sent it out farther. By late afternoon Wednesday, she said she had around 500 signatures.

Mayor Turner,

Houston bars and restaurants are in crisis.

For decades, Houston has been a culinary beacon in Texas and the US. We are home to those who are currently heralded as the nation&rsquos greats, a plethora of James Beard finalists, semi-finalists and much respected JBF winners. We tout one of the best asian culinary epicenters in the US in Chinatown and Bellaire. We are trend setters, innovators, mentors and boundary pushers. And we take care of Houston, no matter what.

Houston is home to more than 10,000 restaurants, a significant portion of our local economy. Without us, it grinds to a halt. Houstonians eat out more than any other city in the nation, including New York City, according to a recent Zagat survey.

We give back to our community our elders, our Veterans, our neighbors, our children, and our employees. We take care of our own, in the words of one of our fearless leaders.

When the world got sick, we got busy. We raised our already rigorous and thorough cleaning and sanitation standards. We upended our operations to make them safer, and more comfortable in service of our guests. We adapted new business models and service modalities. We banded together to support our community and our country and the world in this humanitarian fight.

But now, Mayor Turner, it&rsquos your turn. It&rsquos time for your City Council, and our State Legislature to come together and get busy for the restaurant and hospitality community. We feed Houstonians during hurricanes, water main breaks, World Series, and so much more. We step up in a time of need and crisis, as we are doing now, and we need our local government to do the same.

Mayor Turner, your city&rsquos restaurants need immediate relief. It&rsquos time for the City of Houston, and the Mayor&rsquos office to support Houston restaurants and bars.

Here are a few ways you can help us:

Negotiating delayed or deferred sales tax payments on the state level
Mandate for landlords to charge rent at cost, a 30 day relief, or renegotiate leases to scale back to market rate in 90 days
Offer paid sick leave for our employees
Use emergency funds to allow restaurants to file &lsquointerruption of business&rsquo claims to cover 30 days of labor or rent costs something insurance companies are denying during this crisis
Allow restaurant owners, who cannot file for unemployment at this time, to file for economic assistance due to furlough, closure, or loss of business greater than 50%

Our request is simple. Help us keep our restaurants open under these new rules during social distancing, and as always, we will give back in spades when the world turns right again.

In service to Houston, and restaurants everywhere.

Keep the Houston Press Free. Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.


Houston's medical experts offer up 15 better ways to spend your time

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on our minds and bodies. Even if we've managed to stay active, the disruption to our daily routines — coupled with the threat and uncertainties surrounding the virus — has caused us to develop a number of bad habits. How can we better use our time?

The all-star lineup of specialists affiliated with Memorial Hermann offers 15 out-of-the-box ways to enjoy down time while improving your physical, mental, and emotional health.

1. Take a time out
"Try to limit your news intake to one hour a day," says Stacie Allphin, director of program services for Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center. "While we all need to be aware of what is happening in the world, the onslaught of information and speculation in the news can tax your mental health. Taking a 'time out' from the news can relieve tension, anxiety, depression, and fear, especially for those who struggle with mental health issues."

2. De-stress your body
"Physical activity is one of the best ways to de-stress your body. Just a bit of movement can release endorphins in the brain, which can increase your general wellbeing," says Allphin. "Chair yoga or chair workouts are great for people with limited range of motion, or for those who are just out of shape. Starting slowly is the key. If you have health issues, you'll want to confer with your physician before starting any physical activity."

3. Stimulate your mind
"Put down the remote and pick up a puzzle," suggests sports medicine primary care physician Benedict Ifedi, MD, with Memorial Hermann Medical Group. Studies have shown that puzzles, such as crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and Sudoku, can help improve vocabulary, memory, problem-solving skills, and visual-spatial reasoning. Puzzles also increase our brains' production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and feelings of optimism, lifting our mood, and can help us relax, lowering our stress level.

4. Get a good (productivity) buzz
"If you've been putting off planting a garden, cleaning out the garage, or organizing the house, now's the time," says Dr. Ifedi. "Our homes have become our refuge. And there's no better time to get your space the way you want it to be. Your mind will appreciate the feeling of accomplishment, and your body will benefit from the physical movement."

5. Lighten up your favorite meals
Improve your health by creating lighter, heart-healthier versions of your favorite recipes. "The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recommend a diet emphasizing the intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fish. Monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats are beneficial. Saturated fats and trans fatty acids should be avoided," says MHMG cardiologist Biyebelemo Ekpete, MD, who says she finds great recipes on cookinglight.com and the Create TV network.

6. Stay connected
Allphin says the requirement to physically distance ourselves, while important, has led many to feel isolated and deprived of our essential connection to others. "Make the extra effort to stay connected with friends and family on the phone or through FaceTime or online platforms such as Zoom," she says. "Sharing your fears and concerns with loved ones who understand and can relate may help lower your anxiety. For fun and distraction (and a little brain stimulation), you can play games online with friends and family."

7. Do a good deed
There is always a need to help others, but seldom has the need been greater than it is right now, with so many people out of work. By volunteering your time and talents, you'll not only help others, you'll help yourself. According to mental health and wellness website helpguide.com, volunteering can help you to make friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career. Plus, it can also help protect your mental and physical health.

Want to make a meaningful difference right now in the Houston area? Volunteer Houston has a list of COVID-19 response needs ranging from distributing meals and food to writing letters of gratitude to first responders.

8. Learn how to save a life
Speaking of good deeds, how about learning or brushing up on CPR and first aid? "The instructions for first aid and CPR can be reviewed for free on CPRandFirstaid.net," says Dr. Ekpete. "The American Red Cross website also has several online classes, including babysitting basics, child and baby first aid/CPR/AED, lifeguard management, and more."

9. Rev up your day
With just a little effort, you can turn an ordinary day into a get-fit day. "If you work at home, set a timer and get up and move. Do squats, jumping jacks, anything to get the blood pumping," says UT ortho surgeon James Gregory, MD, who is affiliated with Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute. "Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. It's good cardio and a great way to avoid the close proximity of an elevator."

10. Add a new twist to your daily run
If you've taken a long car trip with family, you've probably played the yellow car game, the objective of which is to be the first to spot a yellow car on the road. Dr. Gregory says you can put a similar spin on your daily run. "Every time you see a park bench, do a set of jumping jacks. If you pass a parked car, do squats. It's something you can do to shake up your routine and make your workout more challenging and fun," he says. And it's not limited to runners — walkers and cyclists can play too!

11. Have a field day
The pandemic has provided us an abundance of family time. If you've run out of ways to fill your days, why not plan a good old-fashioned family field day? Think potato sack races, relay races, an obstacle course, and scavenger hunt. Incorporate water games to stay cool (and make sure you hydrate and wear sunscreen). "I will tell you from recent personal experience," says Dr. Gregory, "as an adult, a potato sack race is shockingly hard."

12. Start a revolution (a dance revolution, that is)
"The goal of aerobic exercise is to get your heart rate slightly elevated and sustain the effort for at least 30 minutes," says Kimberly Gandler, human performance manager at Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute. "If you're confined to your home, pull out your old workout videos or games like the Wii or Xbox Dance Dance Revolution, dance to your favorite songs, climb up and down your stairs, or even walk around your house while you're on work calls."

13. Take a hike
Yes, in Houston. While there aren't many hills in the Bayou City, you might be surprised to learn that there are more than 128 miles of hike and bike trails in and around the Houston area. Sensitive to the sun? Try a shady stroll in the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, or Terry Hershey Park. Just remember to hydrate and stay at least six feet from your fellow nature lovers.

14. Get your Zs
Sleep is essential to our wellbeing. Sleep deprivation can contribute to stress and anxiety. Dr. Ekpete offers these tips for getting a good night's sleep: "Keep your sleep area free of clutter, noise, and outside light. Stick to a sleep routine. Avoid large meals and consuming alcohol, caffeinated beverages, or excessive fluids prior to sleep. Minimize excessive stimulation, such as watching TV, using a cellphone, or reading a book, before bed. Finally, prolonged napping may interfere with nighttime sleep, so limit your daytime naps to less than 30 minutes."

15. Practice gratitude
"With all the issues we're faced with right now, it's easy to dwell on the negative," says Dr. Gregory, "but there's always a bright side. Take time to meditate, to stretch, and to breathe. Look for the positive. Reflect on the things you are grateful for. It helps to put things in perspective."