From No Coast to West Coast

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Greetings from the sunshine state! 8)

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Oh wait…that’s Florida. Anyways, yesterday I hopped a plane in Des Moines, made a quick pit stop in Denver (SNOWMG!) and landed in sunny Los Angeles two and a half hours later, for the Dole Healthy Lifestyle Blogger Summit! :D

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10 bloggers including myself have been talking all things Dole, health & wellness for the past two days.

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We’re staying at the Four Seasons Westlake Village in LA, less than 50 yards away from Dole Headquarters, and I could not be more smitten with the place.

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It’s easily the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at and feels very east coast chic, despite it’s west coast location.

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The rooms are plenty outrageous too.

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Can you say television in the bathroom and two-headed shower?

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Getting ready back at home has been completely ruined for me!

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Wish my blogging spot at home also came with a view like this. ;)

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Last night there was a welcome cocktail party, followed by an Iron Chef-type competition using only Dole ingredients (my team won with roasted Dole cauliflower – eee!) and dinner. They gave us bloggers the recipes for what we ate and I cannot WAIT to share them with you!

This morning, I awoke with the sun…

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(which was awesome since I was still on central time and felt so refreshed even though it was only 6am!)

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and headed over to Dole’s international headquarters next door with the other bloggers, for breakfast.

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Umm, Dole’s cafeteria is legit. They only serve healthy options, including a fresh fish dish every afternoon for lunch, and do not serve red meat or cook with butter.

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They also have a mini Farmers’ Market setup for employees to grab fresh produce at the office. Cool!

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We snagged some breakfast, oatmeal and fresh fruit for me, and chowed down before heading into Dole’s test kitchen to see what they’ve been working on.

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I was totally impressed!

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Among the new items we saw, I especially loved the new banana bags they’ll be rolling out soon. Each bag "breathes" to let bananas either ripen quicker or slower, depending on how fast you want to eat them.

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There’s nothing applied to the fruit – simply open the bag when you want the bananas to ripen, or leave it shut if you don’t. This is great for me – a girl that can’t eat a banana if it has a single speck of brown on it. ;)

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Next we tried banana custard made with Dole bananas and a contraption I have never seen before – a Yonanas Maker !

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A Yonanas Maker is basically a food processor/ice cream maker for frozen fruit. Just stick the stuff down the shoot and out it comes, silky smooth & thick.

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I so want one for Christmas!

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Other notable new products include these addicting fruit bites, which I literally cannot stop eating and truly think/hope they might replace candy for me!

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FRUIT CRISP!!!

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For 160 calories!!

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And Dole’s new frozen, on the go Fruit & Yogurt Shakers.

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All you do with these babies is fill it up with juice or milk, then shake it up.

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There’s frozen pellets of fruit & yogurt inside the container that melt and create a luscious smoothie.

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This particular one was under 200 calories, and had 4 grams of protein. Not high, but it could be higher if you added milk instead of juice, and it would definitely be better than eating a bag of chips as an afternoon snack.

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It looked like a food bomb had gone off after us bloggers were done in the test kitchen. We ate a ton and were stuffed to the gills!

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A quick break in the California sunshine on Dole’s outdoor patio helped refresh us before settling in for a few expert-led sessions on health, fitness and nutrition – which I’ll fill you in on later.

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I actually learned some really cool stuff! :)

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Lunch followed, where I feasted on light yet luscious fare.

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Actually everything I’ve eaten here so far has been incredibly flavorful and filling, yet very light and guilt free at the same time. I need Four Season and Dole chefs to come cook for me always. :) Highlights included this sweet potato & ginger mash that was as silky as it was sweet,

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and chocolate-covered pineapple, for obvious reasons.

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As if we hadn’t been treated enough, a complimentary spa massage was on the agenda for this afternoon!

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The Four Seasons knows what is up and my massage therapist was absolutely incredible.

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There’s always the awkward factor when you’re getting your entire body rubbed by a complete stranger, but I forced myself to think of nothing else but the pure pleasure of it all, and couldn’t have been more relaxed if I were dead. :)

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Pillow lines still firmly in place!

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This evening we have dinner here at the hotel, then tomorrow a session on Healthy Weight Loss before turning around and heading home. You know I’ll take notes!

Hope you’re having a great week everyone. :)

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What’s your favorite way to pamper yourself? Massage, shopping, movie, mani, pedi?

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