Being constantly out and about Philadelphia with my two kiddos has allowed me to sample some of the culinary delights of the city’s many kid spots. Lately, I’ve been finding a few gems on the kid circuit and took a moment to reflect on some of the highlights and pitfalls of staying for lunch while out. I share with you my first in a series of posts on fit mom foodie finds (of the Greater Philadelphia area).
One of my cardinal rules when out and about with my munchkins has always been to have food for them. It may have been a natural progression from breastfeeding days when snacks were available on demand or the toddler days when I needed Puffs or Cheerios to quiet them down. The habit has served me well when we pass the soft pretzel guy and Tyler decides he’s starving and I have a semi nutritious option for him (and of course I never have cash on me so soft pretzel guy wouldn’t even be an option). But I’m able to whip out an apple or some cashews and if he’s genuinely hungry, these healthy snacks suffice.
But for me? Never – or at least not until I became fit! I started traveling with enough emergency snacks for them and me. But every once in awhile (being the fun and spontaneous mom that i am), we stay out longer than planned at the zoo, museum, park and we need to buy lunch.
Recently at the Franklin Institute I was super excited about the cafe. (No not the one in the lobby with slushies and popcorn and ice cream) – the actual sit down cafe by the entrance exit. They had a selection of three soups. I chose the autumn vegetable because I was getting HANGRY and forgot my Emergency Snack (ES) that day so I also wanted to get a salad. But they had a vegetarian chili which would have been also great as a hearty lunch in its own. So the salad… Oh yum. It was strawberries, goat cheese and walnuts on spinach. I’m not a fan of walnuts so I pushed them to the side. But this salad was delish! They also have other pre-made salads, sandwiches (on whole grain bread and wraps). All in all I give this an 8 on my 10 point scale of healthy options for the fit mom. Nice variety and selection of fresh grab and go or made to order options.
For the most part, the food selection at the Philadelphia Zoo is not great for the fit mom. But there is a little hidden gem located between the Amazon Rainforest Carousel and Tiger Terrace. They have my favorite chick pea and feta salad, as well as wraps and hummus. I believe they may have other salads but I usually beeline for the chick peas. My kids aren’t huge fans of the options at this place so it may call for a separate stop at Tiger Terrace for the littles. The food is grab and go but the chick pea salad is worth an extra star alone. I give this a 7/10. Sidebar for a moment about our first trip to the zoo: my husband, Mike, and I got our first zoo membership when our oldest was still an infant. It was a gorgeous spring day and we were having one of “those” weekends and figured if we could get out of the house, strap her up in stroller we could let her check out the sights while we walk around, get some fresh aid, engage in some grown up conversation, maybe stop at one of the cafes for a drink. Oh wait, there’s no alcohol at the Zoo? Today, being the well travelled Philly mom that I am, I know this fact. At the time, though, I was new to the mom circuit (and have a husband from New Orleans where alcohol is everywhere). I assumed there was at least beer at the zoo. We saw “tiger terrace” and assumed it was a place to sip and see tigers. Nope. Then we saw the “treehouse” for members only and though, “Sweet, the zoo must have a special place for its members to grab a drink between exhibits!” Nope. The treehouse was filled with kids and smelled like feet. Ok, so no booze at the zoo. Back to fit mom food finds…
Camden’s Adventure Aquarium has some weak options for the fit mom at the Feeding Frenzy Cafe – carrot sticks, veggie burgers, salad. But for the hassle that it is to get a table during peak hours (I guess that’s why it has the name feeding frenzy), the stress of getting out of the lunch line without fruit punch and a $4 octopus straw for the kids, I’d suggest skipping this lunch spot if at all possible. 2/10
Sesame Place is a fit mom’s nightmare. The food for the kids is terrible and choices for adults are not much better. They’ve improved slightly in recent years adding some salads and some sort of veggie wrap to some of the cafes. However, the supply of these items has been limited when I’ve been there, and it took forever to get one made fresh for me. Also minus one star for sticking the elmo cupcakes at kids eye level before they get to the food. 4/10
Sister Cities Park – foodie finds aside, if you haven’t checked out SCP you need to get there ASAP. It is a sweet little park on the Ben Franklin Pkwy on Logan Square and within walking distance from the Franklin Institute and Academy of Natural Sciences. I first discovered this because my son’s soccer practice was there (unbelievable that they made the tiny little grass area into a perfect little soccer field with an amazing view). There is the Discovery Garden consisting of a wading pool with a little “river” that runs down a little hill that kids can climb all over like a natural landscape playground. They also sell little wooden boats for kids to send down the the river. Now that it’s chilly, they’ve turned the wading pool into a “Discovery Playground” or a mini construction site with large soft building blocks. Oh, and back to food. SCP has the Logan Square Cafe with fabulous options for the fit mom. Think Portuguese Kale soup, salads, egg white veggie omelets with whole grain toast. And great options for the kids if they aren’t foodies (mac ‘n cheese, grilled cheese, popcorn). Plus, the cafe is all windows allowing for a great view of all the goings on outside of the cafe. I give this lil cafe a 10/10 for convenience, atmosphere and healthy options.
What are some of you favorite fit mom foodie finds at “kid places” in the Philly area? Where would like me to visit and review next?