August 3, 2011

Healthy Living: Philly Style

A few things are blatantly apparent when you first look at our blog: there are two of us, we love to eat, and we primarily do this in Philly. However, the kinds of foods we eat sometimes seem all over the board (although recently my dad told me we were getting too "vegan" for him, whatever that means). For the most part, we're showing you weekend meals out- the times when we explore restaurants around the city and take advantage of what they have to offer. But, during the week, as I've mentioned several times before, we like to cook our own foods, incorporate lots of fresh vegetables and whole grains, and fuel our bodies with the natural goodness they need.

In just a few weeks, a conglomerate of "healthy living" bloggers will be descending on our city, ready to learn the latest and greatest about health, fitness, and blogging, as well as explore what Philly has to offer. Taking part in the Healthy Living Summit, an annual meet-up of bloggers from across the country, they probably won't be interested in the Philly Five Pound Challenge or an all-you-can-eat brunch. However, Attune Foods is offering a ticket for the event to one more blogger- and in order to be in the running, I'd like to share just how much Philly (and in turn, myself as a resident of this great city) has to offer to this fantastic group of bloggers.

There's no arguing that Philly has one of the best, most interesting food scenes in the country, but this in no way means it is just full of gourmet steakhouses and Iron Chef style burgers. We also have too-many-to-count spots to enjoy seasonal, fresh, ridiculously high quality healthy food.

Not healthy living??

For example, we have long-standing, upscale restaurants in hip Old City with a clear dedication to "eat(ing), drink(ing), and live(ing) better." With a menu chock-full of organic, local, but even more important, delicious eats, FARMiCIA offers ingredients you rarely see elsewhere (think lentil salads and sauteed kale) with years of solid critics' reviews. Our trip there provided a Tuscan grain salad, a hearty yet refreshing mix of whole spelt berries and baby greens.

FARMiCIA Tuscan Salad

There are also a multitude of little, intimate BYOs, focused on producing the most beautiful plates bursting with seasonal produce- including Pumpkin, representing the quieter span of South Street. The Sunday five course tasting menu is not to be missed, especially when it includes a perfect portion of meaty pork belly accompanied by pickled green tomatoes and local white peaches.

Pumpkin's Pork Belly

I'm also happy to say that we have a diverse offering of quick take-out spots to get an easy, tasty, nutritious lunch (or breakfast.. or dinner..). Our new favorite is definitely Pure Fare, conveniently located in Center City West, where we've enjoyed kale smoothies (really!), avocado-chocolate cookies, and magical cool cucumber soup (absolutely perfect for summer).

Pure Fare's Cool Cucumber Soup

And, to add fuel to my father's fire, we mourn the loss of one of Philly's first- and most certainly best- vegan restaurants, Horizons, which recently closed after almost twenty years of service (thankfully, the owners have new plans for an even more veggie-ful spot!). Located smack in the middle of the more hipster South Street scene, it was a restaurant even the meat-and-potatoes kind has to love. Somehow they could turn eggplant into a deeply earthy, smoked braciole- no animal products necessary.

Horizon's Eggplant Braciole

Beyond enjoying the fruits of Philly's health-conscious restaurant scene, we also embrace our own healthy living lifestyle on a daily basis. We enjoy thinking of food as fuel, creating post-workout snacks at home, replicating (and improving upon) some of the commercial protein bars available. Nothing beats a dense blend of almonds and coconut to meet you after a hard 10K trail race.

Homemade Protein Bars


We also produced a peanut-flour based snack to enjoy after a 15K road race, refueling ourselves on the short drive home from Wilmington, Delaware.

Peanut Scones

We also know when enough is enough when it comes to indulgences, voluntarily participating in a whole-foods-only "detox" for a week last spring. The foods we ate weren't "rabbit food" or even vegetarian, but a week of no added sugars and lots of veggies did us good. We even based most of our breakfast-eats off of meals shared on well-known "Healthy Living Blogs." Our dinners were mostly recipes produced by us, perhaps my favorite being a Maple-Tofu Barley Bowl with Tahini Dressing (long name, awesome meal).

We also fell in love with our Community Supported Agriculture program- receiving weekly boxes of organic, local produce from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. Throughout the late spring, summer, and early fall, almost all of our homemade dinners incorporate one or more of the items we receive through the program. Not only does it ensure we're eating well (and supporting local farmers), it also forces us to branch out in terms of ingredients and cooking styles. One of my favorite CSA-inspired meals was vegan (sorry, Dad) quesadillas- before, I wouldn't have thought of this dish without cheese, but now I can't stop making these sweet potato filled pockets.

In a city like Philly, healthy living is almost simple- access to so many farmers markets, the ability to walk miles a day and not even blink an eye, tons of outdoor activities, famous running paths, a million nearby athletic events (of course, we're partial to running), and of course, more fun, healthy restaurants than you can count. I'm glad to say we take full advantage, cooking up tasty, nutritious meals during the week and constantly finding new favorite bites from food trucks in West Philly to classy Steven Starr joints on Rittenhouse Square. We embrace our city, with a mindfulness of health but of course, always a treat now and again.

Disclaimer: This post is intended as an entry in Attune Food's Healthy Living Summit ticket contest. We realize there are two of us, but we are entering for a single ticket (only one of us will be in town during the event!)

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