Brunch-Run to Ants Pants

A few West Philly friends and I have come up with a new way to get that oft-forgotten weekend run. We pick a location, run there, eat, and then walk or take public transportation home. It’s a great “club” because we have an excuse to eat brunch, can eat as much as we want without thinking about running home, and have a fun, healthy late-morning with friends.

For my first brunch-run (with the great Bryan Moody) we ran from Clark Park over to Ants Pants in Graduate Hospital. Not that far, but a great way to start off! One of the best things about running to brunch is that you tend to not be as hungry when you get there. I ordered a lunch sandwich – a big brunch departure for me – on whole-grain bread with avocado, roasted red pepper, and pesto. Of course, it being brunch, I had them throw a fried egg on it. The sandwich was great. The pasta salad side unfortunately, was bland and unnecessary. Next time, I’ll be sure to ask for fruit instead!

Ants Pants Cafe on Urbanspoon

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I like it Raw – raw cabbages salad

It is beautiful in Philadelphia, sunny, breezy, early-summery and also sometimes hot and humid. The vegetables are overflowing the raised beds and tumbling out of the CSA box and my fridge is packed. And I’m loving every minute of it. But I need to eat a lot of vegetables to keep up, and lately I just haven’t really felt like curries or stirfry or braises or casseroles. Why turn on the oven?

So I’ve been enjoying a whole lot of raw salads. The secret about raw salads is that you can eat almost any green raw. If it is particularly tough, just marinate and massage it a bit. I currently have lots of vegetables in the cabbage family, so I thought it would be fun to combine them for varying textures and colors. The above salad I made one evening and ate un-marinated, then poured the dressing over top, marinated overnight, and took for lunch the next day. For lunch (and the above photo) I added some cubed and fried tempeh chunks, and half of an avocado. YUM.

Raw Cabbages Salad

4 heads baby bok choi, sliced thinly
1/4 purple cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
3 kholrabi, loosely diced
1 cup sprouted mung beans
2 garlic scapes
2 tsp. toasted black sesame seeds

dressing
3 Tbs. tamari or soy sauce
4 Tbs. rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. sesame oil
1 Tbs. safflower or other light oil
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbs. diced fresh ginger or 1 tsp. dried ginger
pinch of roasted chili powder or flakes

Combine vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing on top or, for a “softer” salad with less crunch, add dressing, mix well (use your hands!) and allow to rest for at least an hour. This recipe allows for 4 large servings. For a heartier meal, add tempeh, tofu, or avocado!

Tempeh sandwich with sprouts and avocado

It started at as a tempeh BLT, but I couldn’t find any decent tomatoes (no surprise). And then I didn’t have any lettuce, but I did have some lovely sprouts, and a perfectly ripe avocado. And a whole wheat english muffin and some olive oil mayonnaise. So I marinated the tempeh in some “smoky” sauce with a dash of whisky, soy, garlic and steak sauce, fried it up, mashed the whole thing together, and loved every little bit of it.

Brunch in the House

While I LOVE to go out to brunch, it can be a big hassle, cost a lot of money, and feel frustrating. Sometimes you’d rather just sit on your couch and watch the Sunday morning news shows (or is that just me?) Either way, sometimes I surprise myself with the ability to quickly whip-up a pretty amazing brunch with ingredients already in my kitchen. Pictured above:

Jalapeno corn cakes topped with black beans (garlic, onion, adobo), fresh avocado, fried eggs, homemade pico, more jalapenos, shredded cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro hot sauce and BAM, breakfast. Of course, I made a bloody mary to go along with it, since that’s how I roll with brunch.

Quick and Easy Fajita for One

Quick and Easy Fajita for One
Quick and Easy Fajita for One

Simply perfect. Single-serving cooking can be fun, creative, fast, healthy and delicious. As a result of a too-meager lunch, I returned home from work terribly hungry, yet with not a lot of time to get a meal in before I went to meet friends for an evening of Julie and Julia (My Life in France is a great book, and Meryl Streep delights me), I need a quick, delicious dinner. Sliced CSA onions and peppers quickly fried in a skillet with a left-over soy chicken patty, tossed in an whole wheat tortilla alongside fresh tomatoes, avocado, cheddar, and some chunky tomatillo salsa I made a few weeks ago.

Summer Tortilla Soup

Summer Tortilla Soup
Summer Tortilla Soup

With the exception of our recent humid weather, it’s been a pretty cool, wet summer. Cool enough to turn on the stove, and even to make soup! I just couldn’t get tortilla soup out of my mind, but I wanted to use my fresh local vegetables. This soup was born, and let me tell you, it’s fantastic. It has a very rich flavor, but it full of good-for-you vegetables. As soon as we get another cool evening, give it a try. Replacing the traditional fried tortilla strips with low-fat corn chips makes the recipe healthier. Add good-fat avocado and goat cheese for added creaminess.

Summer Tortilla Soup
Serves 4

1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. cardamom
1 small zucchini
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
2 heirloom tomatoes
3 sundried tomatoes
1 red habenero pepper, thinly sliced.
6 cups of vegetable broth
garnish with avocado, goat cheese, and corn chips

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot of saucepan. Add the chopped onions and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until the onions soften and garlic becomes golden. Add the spices and stir to coat. Add the zucchini and corn and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and the sliced habenero pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the vegetables from the heat. In a large blender or food processor, combine the vegetables with 2 cups of the broth. Blend until smooth, then return to the pan. Add the remaining 4 cups of broth, stirring well. Cover and heat through. Ladle in large bowls and garnish with slices of fresh avocado, crumbled goat cheese, and corn chips or fried tortilla strips.

Back in the East, eating salads

Fiesta Salad
Fiesta Salad

I’ve been a bad blogger, I know. I know. But I spent the last week eating from the YMCA of the Rockies cafeteria, and let me tell you, there was not a lot of exciting and photogenic vegetarian food to share with you. And I could of taken photos of the gas station dill pickle and jalepeno Combos I ate during the road trip, but really?

That said, I’m back! I picked up my CSA last night and celebrated with a great work salad today. This salad is much like my Mexican Chopped Salad, except it’s made with what I already had in my fridge – sprouted black beans, corn I actually cut off the cob myself and lightly fried with the beans, a baby red onion, and some garlic and cumin. It’s also got green CSA lettuce instead of romaine, avocado (yum!) and I skipped the fried tortilla strips. I dressed the salad with a simple vinaigrette I made with half a habenero pepper, a dash of olive oil, and some white wine vinegar. Delicious, but choose a milder pepper unless you’re serious about spice!