We're now officially entrenched in the season of overindulgence. It's just about the midpoint between Thanksgiving's carb overload and Christmas' never-ending cookies and cocktails.

We're now officially entrenched in the season of overindulgence. It's just about the midpoint between Thanksgiving's carb overload and Christmas' never-ending cookies and cocktails.

But you don't have to make bad food decisions every single day of the holiday season. Load up on whole grains and veggies every chance you get (i.e. on those rare evenings you don't have a holiday open house or work party to attend), and you'll feel much better than the rest of the general public by the time Jan. 2 rolls around.

When I'm in dire need of health food, I head straight to Northstar Cafe, the locally grown mini-chain that specializes in good-for-you grub that's actually craveable. They've got burgers (the kind made with brown rice, black beans and beets), burritos (filled with seared tofu and sauteed veggies) and flatbread pizzas (topped with all sorts of crunchy vegetables).

Northstar's sleek and serene cafes - there are locations in Short North, Beechwold and at Easton - are an ideal oasis for temporarily escaping holiday craziness.

The Buddha Bowl ($10) is my go-to detox meal. This steaming bowl of goodness can be ordered with chicken, but I always go for the pan-seared cubes of tofu. They're drizzled in just a bit of great salty-sweet Thai peanut sauce and served on a bed of fluffy organic brown rice with huge (and shockingly bright) green steamed broccoli florets, crunchy carrot discs and thick-sliced red cabbage.

Northstar's always got great fully loaded salads, but one seasonal special is especially worth seeking out. The Winter Vegetable Salad ($12.50) is just beautiful, studded with big chunks of gem-like red beets and roasted-'til-caramelized butternut squash.

Those relatively sweet and incredibly hearty veggies are paired with spiced pecans and big dollops of goat cheese from Hiram, Ohio's Mackenzie Creamery. That's all tossed with some mixed greens in a light champagne vinaigrette.

The salad's served with a big hunk of Northstar's grainy wheat bread.

Shelley Mann is the editor of Crave, Columbus' new dining magazine. Keep up with her at ColumbusCrave.com.

Photo by Jodi Miller