I know I've said it before but one of the perks of having a blog is getting to travel and connect with like-minded people and talk shop. This time it was Dole that brought us all together for a Healthy Lifestyle Blogger Summit at their headquarters in Westlake Village, California.
First, let me just say it was strange being back in the Los Angeles area. It's been a while since I've been home. It's so different from the peaceful life I live now. So much traffic and just fast-pace. I live in the country, off a gravel road and run a family business. I farm, make wine and write this blog. LAX airport gave me a slight panic attack when I got off the plane, it was just so crowded. Did I really live there before..in all that? And quite honestly I am not that easily overwhelmed, so it surprised me. But wow, life has changed.
Having said that, from the moment I was whisked away in my town car, I had an amazing time at Dole. We cooked, they cooked, we learned, listened, talked, laughed, spa-ed and I met an incredible amount of very nice people. We were busy every moment and I couldn't have loved it more.
Dole headquarters is located right across the street from the The Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California. The hotel is top notch and owned by Dole, which has enabled them to create the California Health and Longevity Institute, right inside the Four Seasons. It is a place where people go to be educated on a life style filled with wellness and nutrition. Inside of the institute is one of the most beautiful and well-appointed spas I have experienced. Dole of course treated us to an afternoon of "spa" and it could not have been more appreciated. And needed.
For me, it's always a pleasure learning about a brand, their business model, their goals, ideas and all of the products they make. I use their products in my kitchen and it's nice to know where my food comes from. I have such a curiosity about how businesses work, large and small corporations, it's always a great learning experience when I get to visit a company like this.
I grew up with Dole, as I'm sure many of you have. Let's face it, having a Dole Whip at the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland or Pineapple Frozen Yogurt at the Dole Plantation in Hawaii are some of my greatest memories. It was nice to come full circle and meet many who are involved with operations.
Our first evening began with a bit of a "Chopped Challenge" in the kitchen of the California Health and Longevity Institute. We were given bags of ingredients and had to create a healthy recipe based on what was inside. My bag contained a pineapple and fresh ginger, dessert was my task. We had 50 minutes to come up with something great. Needless to say, it was a blast competing against each other. I won't brag by saying I won my category...no I won't. Dole then treated us to a healthy pre-Thanksgiving meal that included lots and lots of fruits and veggies...it was amazingly yummy.
The next day was spent in the Dole test kitchens where we were able to sample and learn about all of their products. They have some stuff I didn't even know existed. I was truly impressed by everything I sampled. They even remade several of their classic recipes into healthier versions. We had to guess which was which. We were so FULL. Then we ate lunch. We were never hungry.
I tasted these juices for the first time. Impressed, I came home and bought some for my kids. They love, love, love them. Especially the Orange Strawberry Banana. I'm thinking we could be done with the Apple Juice for good!! These are packed with Vitamin C and taste dee-licious. I'm a water drinker, plain iced-tea, black coffee...but even I can't stop filling my glass. Slurpity-slurp.
Dole sent a clear take-home message during our time with them.
They encouraged us to fill our plates with mostly veggies and small amounts of protein and healthy fats. Leaning towards a more plant-based diet.
Eat the colors of the rainbow in fruits and veggies, they are full of vitamins and minerals.
Know what a portion size is, measure or weigh it if you must!
Practice balance with food, lifestyle, fun and stress-reduction to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.
Dole practices what they preach. Healthy fruits and vegetables are available for employees (free of charge) in their cafeteria daily. Signs encouraging everyone to "take the stairs" instead of the elevator are everywhere. And the serenity of grounds and offices were enough to keep anyone calm.
Lunch with the bloggers at Dole Headquarters included a well-needed dose of California sunshine and waterfalls galore.
The other bloggers in attendance were truly inspirational. They all work very hard to provide great content, recipes, photos and humor. I enjoyed meeting them all.
Here are their blogs and Twitter handles...
• Cathy Pollak (me), Noble Pig, @noblepig
• Ericka Sanchez, Nibbles and Feasts, @NibblesNFeasts
• Nicole Presley, Presley’s Pantry, @PresleysPantry
• Amy Roskelley, Super Healthy Kids, @healthykids
• Kelly Davis, Foodie Fresh, @foodiefresh
• Josie Maurer, Yum Yucky, @yumyucky
• Jennifer DaFonte ,Mom Spotted, @MomSpotted
• Erin Haslag, Well in L.A., @WELLinLA
If you would like to follow Dole and keep up to date about their products as well as health and wellness tips..
@dolenutrition ~ This is Dole's twitter handle which serves as the corporate connection for Dole Food Company, the Dole Nutrition Institute and Dole Fresh Fruit. And the person who Tweets is very nice!!
Dole has three Facebook accounts...
Facebook.com/DOLE ~ Dole Food Company, Inc.
Facebook.com/DOLEBananas ~ Dole Banana Love
Facebook.com/DOLESaladGuide ~ Salads and fresh vegetables
I was very inspired and interested in many of the topics we learned about at the Dole Summit. My plan is to release them over time....right here. And talk about their healthy benefits. Recipes, ideas..you name it.
Disclosure: My travel expenses, meals, transportation and spa services were all provided graciously by Dole. As always, all opinions are my own