Three rolls: seaweed, sweet potato & avocado
I absolutely love sushi! I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have two favorite spots for sushi in Philadelphia: Vic Sushi Bar on Sampson Street between 20th & 21st and Yakitori Boy in Chinatown. Vic’s is a tiny little place with about six bar stools (it’s B.Y.O.). I used to know the delivery guy pretty well when I lived in Philly. My friend Liz and I had a little ritual we called Tuesday Night Tivo. We’d jog, then order sushi and watch our cheesy teen shows (90210 & Gossip Girl). The other day I ordered take-out (read this post to find out why I really try not get take-out, sushi’s the exception) and ate it in the park.
Bliss: sitting barefoot in the park with chopsticks in hand
What’s your idea of bliss? Do you have any rituals?
1,700 yogis gathered on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
(photo taken with Instagram on my iPhone)
Yesterday I went with one dear friend and many new ones to Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s yoga fundraiser. It was a gorgeous day to practice outside and the vibe was just amazing. The teacher talked about creative energy and living life to your fullest potential. There were cancer survivors, along with many people who’ve lost a loved one. Although I did make a (small) donation, I was mostly there to support my friend who’s been fundraising for a while through donation-based classes. Plus it was a chance to have fun and participate in something special. I left thinking, “What can I do to help others?” I’m not really sure what the answer is yet, but I am open to ideas.
My new friend Rebecca (left) and me (right) sharing boat pose
Have you participated in anything for charity? What’s the best way to be helpful?
Yesterday morning I went on a job interview. Teaching gigs are very hard to come by these days, and the competition is fierce. I’m still waiting to hear back so my nerves are a little rattled. The quickest way to chill out when something’s on my mind is head to yoga so yesterday afternoon I went to class at my favorite studio in Philadelphia. I was a little spaced out about the interview, so it wasn’t until 20 minutes in during sun salutations that I noticed the gorgeous shirtless guy diagonal from me. I’m usually not one to check out dudes at yoga (I take my zen time very seriously), but this guy had chaturanga muscles to the max. So guess who the cute guy was…
Colin Farrell (not my pic)
Yes, the chatter in my mind about the interview subsided as I realized an A-lister was three feet away. He’s in town filming a movie and apparently he’s a pretty devout yogi. Who knew? At least this distraction was a little more fun than the other.
Tomato soup minus the cream in Old City
Iced green tea at Cafe Ole
What helps you to chill out? Who’s your celebrity crush?
Sunday morning M and I went for a walk in the woods at Wissahickon Park before heading over to his aunt’s house for Easter dinner. We packed a makeshift cooler (a plastic tote packed with ice packs and a beach towel for a cover) with lunch and a few dishes to share with the crowd. I brought Alicia Silverstone’s guac dip, salad with creamy balsamic dressing and whole wheat pasta with broccoli, leeks, mushrooms, asparagus and roasted shallot cashew cream sauce. I was thrilled that everything was a hit and his family even wanted to keep some of the leftovers.
Lunch at the park: quinoa, hummus, kale, roasted red peppers, asparagus, broccoli & olives stuffed in a wrap
Pasta directions: (this isn’t really a recipe, just an idea for throwing some stuff together): Make cashew cream sauce (click here for recipe). Meanwhile saute mushrooms and leeks in a pan with a little olive oil or veggie broth. You could use onions or shallots instead of leeks, I just happened to have two that needed to be cooked. When the oven’s free kick up the heat to 425 and roast the broccoli and asparagus. I cut them into small pieces before roasting, but you can do it anyway you want. Isn’t it fun getting creative in the kitchen? Boil water for the pasta and cook until it’s the way you like it. Finally, in a large pan or pot mix veggies with cream sauce and some veggie broth or water to thin it out to your desired consistency. Put the noodles in the sauce and heat the whole concoction over medium-low until it’s warmed up and mixed well.
*How I packed it: I kept the veggies and sauce separate from the cooked pasta and I brought some veggie broth in another container. I also brought my own large pan because I didn’t want to be in the way or use up stuff they might need. I put everything together in the pan and heated until it smelled delicious. Of course you could probably just put everything in one dish and microwave it for the same result. That’s what I had for dinner last night.
The next day freshened up with brussel sprouts and asparagus spears
Creamy Basalmic Dressing:
1/4 cup each water, balsamic vinager, & tahini
Shake well in a mason jar, or stir it up in a bowl
What’s cooking lately?
DiBruno Brothers Italian Market is one of my favorite spots for a quick gourmet lunch in downtown Philadelphia. It’s definitely on the pricy side, so I keep it for special occasions and splurges (like turning 30). The cafe upstairs has a salad bar with all kinds of delicious items like roasted red peppers, artichokes, olives, various hot sides and homemade dressings. My favorite’s the roasted vegetable vinaigrette.
17th & Chestnut Street
From the do-it-yourself salad bar
Where do you go for the best salad? What are your favorite toppings? How do you splurge?
What a find! Organic & local tomatoes at Reading Terminal Market
I couldn’t resist grabbing a new book yesterday while wandering around Rittenhouse Square: I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Eat it Anymore! by Christina Pirello (I really love food and yoga books!). Between last night’s hour on the train from Philadelphia to South Jersey and my break at work today I’ve read quite a bit. Even though most of the info isn’t new to me, sometimes I need a gentle reminder to stay away from all the junk that’s constantly barraged towards consumers nowadays (like the late-night pizza menu we found Saturday night…which left me with a bloated belly all day Sunday). Any-hoo, today’s a new day and I’m committed to small changes. Christina gives a few suggestions in her book:
- Swap something processed for a new fresh item each week. There’s something inspiring about trying new produce. Last year I bought one new thing with each trip to the farmers’ market. I ended up discovering fresh lima beans and figs. Yum!
- Ditch the “white” food at dinner. Easy enough to do at home, I’ll just save the French bread for special occasions.
- Drink water before snacking. Many times thirst is mistaken for hunger, plus we could all probably use a little more H2O.
- Don’t eat in front of the tv. I’m not ready to give up freshly popped popcorn with sea salt and melted Earth Balance butter, but dinner is committed to the table.
- Go cold-turkey on soda. I’ll admit I have a little problem with coke. Classic Coca-Cola is my favorite of all carbonated beverages. But last night’s reading convinced me to give it up (again). Soda is a chemical combo that can be used to remove bloodstains from the road, eat corrosion off car batteries and make a toilet bowl sparkle after just an hour. It will dissolve a steak in two days and a nail in four days. Just imagine what it does to a human body…soda raises blood pressure, dehydrates and increases chances of arthritis. It also leaches calcium from bones, including our teeth and spines. I know we’ve heard it all before, but if you really stop and think about it, it’s pretty disgusting. So for the second time I’m quitting for good! (I lasted about six months last time, then it slowly crept back into my life.)
- Stock the fruit bowl.
- Learn to use leftovers in creative new ways. My own suggestion that I’m working on. Weeknight dinners are fast and easy when the fridge is stocked with basics and simple leftovers that can be given a new spin.
In a little more than one month I’ll be celebrating my 30th birthday on the beach. I’d love to be my healthiest self possible, plus I’d be lying if I said spending time in a bikini wasn’t part of my inspiration. But mostly I want to trade processed crap for whole foods because it makes me feel so much better when I do. I’d love for you to join me on this quest and trade one old bad habit for something that will make you look and feel like a million bucks.
Is there anything you’re willing to trade?
I’m getting rid of soda and trying out plenty of new recipes. I’m also trading dairy for plant-based milk, sauces and creams.
What small changes have you already made in your life?
One of the best changes was committing to packing my lunch every day. It was hard at first, but I’ve discovered all sorts of tricks (like keeping soup in the freezer, chopping salad stuff for the week, portioning leftovers the night it’s made, getting everything ready the night before). I’m saving money, cutting waste and getting envious glances in the break room. Today’s lunch: salad greens dressed with oil, vinegar, mustard and roasted garlic along with a bowl of mushroom bourguignon. So worth the time and effort!
Sweet Green is a fairly new West Philly salad spot with a conscious. It’s like a majorly upgraded version of Salad Works with local and organic ingredients plus it has an interesting variety of dressings.
The Sabzi salad for me and a Chic-P for my friend Camilo
Any new spots near you? What dressings are you loving right now?
Camilo’s lemon hummus tahini dressing rocked!
I’m mostly vegan-ish at home, but going out is a whole other can of worms. I’ve noticed that dairy makes me feel bloated and icky, so I usually try to avoid it by choosing the seafood option. Sometimes it’s delicious (like the seared scallops at Parc) and sometimes it’s not. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m totally spoiled by all the amazing restaurants in Philadelphia. Anyway, yesterday I had Mexican Sunday brunch at Distrito with my good friend that happens to be vegan. He showed me that a little smile can go a long way when making special requests. We ended up with gauc, salsa & chips, salad, veggie tacos and a cheeseless veggie enchilada. Doesn’t sound too amazing, but words just don’t do the flavors justice.
Ensalada de Granada: pomegranate, honeydew, jicama, orange, pepitas & lemon vinaigrette
Spicy veggie tacos with mushrooms and sweet corn
Enchiladas so good they don’t need cheese
How do you feel about making special requests at a restaurant?
Saturday was a warm and gorgeous Northeastern fall day. My gym teacher friend Liz spent the night (on matching air mattresses side by side). After a night of gossip and giggles we set off to check off #19 on my 30 Before 30 List: Go on a 15+ mile bike ride. She recently completed her first triathlon so I knew she’d make a good bike riding buddy.
Liz at the turn-around point
We started at the 25th and Walnut Street entrance to the Schuylkill River trail. We dodged plenty of walkers and joggers as we passed the art museum and boathouse row on our way to the woods.
Wissahickon Valley Park
Me eight miles in, thighs burning
Behind the art museum, a view of boathouse row
Liz was a little tougher to keep up with than my last bike riding partner (sorry dad!), but I was proud to finish. We rewarded ourselves with lattes, sandwiches and tomato soup at our favorite little French cafe.
What kind of goals do you set for yourself? What accomplishments are you proud of?
I’m not much into faux meat, but this little spot in Chinatown has all of the usual Chinese dishes minus the guilt. The decor is simple (and by that I mean plastic tablecloths) but the prices are cheap and the “chicken” lettuce cups are delicious.
11th Street between Race and Cherry
Crispy shell, warm and chewy center
Sprinkled with nuts
Do you eat fake meat? If so, what are your favorite recipes?
I’ve never cooked with it before but I just found this blog, which has some tasty-looking vegan recipes. I love their Betty Crocker Project where they veganize traditional Betty Crocker recipes. Yum!