disclosure: This post is sponsored by DOLE but all opinions are my own.
Last Saturday I did something really exciting. Scary. Exhausting. But mostly really exciting! I was given the opportunity to present three cooking demos with DOLE at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim. The D23 Expo is Disney’s annual convention, also known as the ultimate Disney fan event. And since you guys might know by now that I am a big Disney fan, this was a pretty cool opportunity.
In today’s post, I get to share that day with you! Along with the salad recipe I made during the demo. And seriously guys, this salad recipe from DOLE is soooooooo good. Seriously, I devoured the big bowl in the photos right after shooting. I couldn’t stop eating it! YES, salad. Let’s go!..
At D23 there are celebrity panels, exclusive Disney content, booths, shopping, and the best people watching ever as Disney fans dress up, aka cosplay.
As for the demos, I was just really excited to engage with the crowds and help people (especially the kids and teens!) tap into their natural excitement for fruits and veggies. All while showing off some really fabulous plant-based recipes from DOLE and Disney.
This salad looks so simple because it totally is. However, the flavors and textures are complex and so cravable! This dressing, swoon..
Must-Try Salad. I sound like a broken record, but I really do hope you try the salad recipe at the bottom of this post. Sassy and bright, slight spiciness from the Dijon mustard in the dressing, zing from the red wine vinegar, richness from the buttery avocado and so much crunch from the romaine and radishes, plus a hint of vibrant sweetness from mandarin oranges and from the dressing.
Make it a Meal. This salad is so perfect paired with vegan pizza or pasta. Or add a generous layer of tempeh bacon or skillet chickpeas on top, maybe some hummus toast on the side for an entree salad. Hemp seeds or spicy pumpkin seeds or any nut would also be yummy on it.
So… onto D23!
Shoot, I forgot my princess crown or Minnie ears. I definitely felt a little under-dressed around all the princesses! I mean that Rapunzel back there, #hairgoals..
I woke up around 6am and did my hair and makeup and gathered all my supplies. My husband came along to help me schlep bags and to also entertain and pump me up in between demos. I am SO glad he came because he really helped the day fly by. It always helps to have a partner-in-crime on long work days.
We arrived at the Expo around 10:15am and my first demo was at 11am. We rushed in, got set up and ready to go. I was going on after the celebrity pancake guy Dancakes. Have you heard of him?? He is so talented! I knew of him from when he popped on Katy Perry’s livestream event a few weeks ago. And then there he was, presenting at the kitchen booth right before me! Small world. But tough act to follow, ha! How could I compete with princess-shaped and colored pancakes?? Luckily, the cool thing about smoothies is that everyone LOVES them! Pull out a blender and people get excited.
Getting mic’ed up!
Crowds showing up to watch salad + smoothie making..
I loved that many of the people watching were kids or teens! I felt so fulfilled teaching young people about healthy recipes that taste delicious! Minnie ears on point..
11AM – The first demo flew by! I was the most anxious about that first demo because we were doing a Facebook Live on my channel. I am so sorry the audio was a bit off, but at least you can get a viewing of what it was like. (Embedded at bottom of this post)
Besides the recipes, I chatted about how back in May, DOLE and Disney launched “Fuel Up with DOLE!” – a healthy living initiative to inspire families to eat more fruits and veggies and embrace wellness during summer roadtrip season. The website features recipes, healthy tips and a contest – all inspired by the Pixar movie Cars 3. The contest is pretty great – one family will win a massive prize: The Ultimate Summer Roadtrip.
Cheers to DOLE and Disney, two of the most influential companies in the world, for encouraging people to drink green smoothies and infuse dinnertime with a giant, gorgeous, plant-based salad.
In this shot you can see the green smoothie off to the side. So good! I was also able to share my cookbooks with the crowd.
Loved each crowd! Thank you for showing up and engaging with me!
I closed each demo with a story. And I want to share it here too!..
The night before the Expo, I had a conversation with the stylist who was blow-drying my hair at DryBar. She was really excited to be doing my hair because I told her I was a vegan chef and she had recently gone vegetarian and was trying to enjoy eating more plants in her diet. However, she was struggling a bit because no one in her family was vegetarian, and all the recipes her family cooked were very animal product heavy. So she was stuck trying to figure out what to eat on her own. And so I asked her… “Do you cook?”
She said, “No.” Then she paused and thought about it. And said, “I did make this one recipe I found one time and it actually turned out well – and I really liked it!”
My eyes lit up, “Yay! That means you do cook!” I said. “You don’t have to make super fancy things or even an entire cookbook worth of recipes to cook. All you have to do is find one recipe you can make and love and have as your “go-to” recipe. Then slowly add another recipe. Then another. And another. And suddenly you will have three, four, five or more recipes in your cooking arsenal! And suddenly you DO cook! And the coolest part is that you can cook for others and show them how delicious YOUR plant-infused food is!”
I love this story because so often I meet or online chat with people who are not vegan, but trying to eat healthier. They know that more plants = a good thing.
But they get tripped up because they simply don’t know how cook without using animal products. (Hey, I have been there! I didn’t grow up vegan at all.) But the truth is, there are substitutions for SO many animal products these days. It just takes a bit of googling on your phone and browsing through blogs or cookbooks.
And the easy part is this truth: plants have SO much flavor and color and texture, they make cooking fun, beautiful, creative and flavorful. And once you succeed in discovering just ONE amazing recipe you will gain confidence (and enthusiasm) with this whole plant-based cooking thing. And slowly you can add more recipes to your mealtime rotation. And boom. Vegan chef status.
And the best part… suddenly, you start CRAVING veggies and healthier meals simply because you feel so good with these new healthy habits.
The Real World. I try really hard to not live in my vegan/LA bubble of healthy eating. In most of the country – and world – most people still think that adding spinach to a pineapple-banana smoothie (as I did in my demo) will ruin the smoothie. But those people just haven’t TRIED the smoothie yet. Green smoothies can be so delicious. And like superfuel for your body!
So anyways… that was my little story and side-tracked rambling. I hope each and every one of you know that YOU can cook healthy-delicious recipes for your family. It is all about discovering go-to recipes you love and find simple and doable and family-friendly. Then slowly adding recipes to your personal collection of faves. Pretty soon you will have enough recipes to fill a book! I know, because that is EXACTLY what happened to me. I am self-taught. And two cookbooks later, ten years of blogging, I am still going.
Demos two and three blew by and it was suddenly 6pm and I had been going no-stop for about twelve hours. It was a busy day! Luckily, we found some time to break for lunch and also chill out a bit in a quiet corner of the hotel right next door.
Keeping busy in between sessions..
Food break! We grabbed lunch from the food trucks outside. Lots of vegan options there.
This guy kept photobombing my photos and Instagram stories. I didn’t mind.
It was a pirate-infused year at D23! They had some really awesome pirate exhibits.
What did I Learn? I think my most valuable lesson from the day was that at everyone’s core, people are genuinely curious about healthy food. And people want to feel their best and take care of themselves. Health and wellness and healthy recipes are for everyone. I feel so re-inspired in my longtime mission of this blog to allow my recipes and message to reach EVERYONE. Vegans and non-vegans.
For every person, tiny diet changes can lead to BIG revelations and lifestyle shifts further down the road. Small steps. Small steps.
And to close.. more about the salad I am craving right now as I type this up..
Mandarin Oranges and Avocado Romaine Salad. As I said above, I am in love with this simple salad. Every time I made it at the expo one of the kitchen managers would come up and say, “That salad, every time you make it I just want to eat it!!” I was so happy to hear that! And I believe it! It looks and smells amazing with all the bright and crisp flavors and colors. Oh and one fun part is that all the recipes are inspired by Cars 3 characters, this one by Miss Fritter. (fun for the kiddos…)
Hope you love it and loved sharing this day with me! A few more pics before the recipe..
Disney latte art. On trend.
So much energy + color + fun around every corner.
DOLE’s Mandarin Oranges and Avocado Romaine Salad
By Kathy PatalskyPublished 07/21/2017
This flavorful and colorful salad combines buttery avocado, sweet-bright mandarin oranges and crisp romaine. Radishes add crunch and color. Zesty spicy mustard dressing. This recipe is from DOLE.
- 1 package (9oz) DOLE® Classic Romaine Salad
- 1/2 avocado, diced
- 1 11oz can of DOLE mandarin oranges, drained
- 2 DOLE radishes, sliced
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 4 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil**
- 2 tsp agave or maple syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
- **Personal preference note: I actually reduced the oil by about half and added a splash more vinegar – because I love lots of acid in my salads, and it tasted amazing, but it really depends on your taste preferences! The recipe as is is pretty perfect too.
- Add all the salad dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk well until the dressing becomes smooth and creamy.
- In a large mixing bowl add the romaine salad, sliced radishes, mandarin oranges and avocado.
- Pour the dressing over top the salad and toss very well until coated. Serve! (If not serving right away, cover the salad and place in the fridge. Salad should probably served within an hour of tossing so that the ingredients do not get too soft. If you want to ‘prep’ everything in advanced, you can wait to toss in the dressing until right before serving.)
Yield: serves 4Prep Time: 00 hrs. 05 mins. Cook time: 00 hrs. 02 mins. Total time: 7 mins. Tags: salad,romaine, mandarin oranges,side,lunch,dole,
Watch my Facebook Live of demo 1:
My Instagram Story from the day… (sorry it is weirdly blurry!)
So with this salad, last night my husband and I each devoured our own entire BIG bowls of this (as in, I doubled the veggie recipe below). I actually doubled the salad dressing recipe, as I doubled the veggies, but I reduced the oil content quite a bit just for our own taste preferences – and it worked beautifully. Seriously the dressing is perfect for summer! I am kinda obsessed with this salad. It reminds me of another fan-fave that was inspired by a DOLE event… Macadamia Avocado Mango Arugula.
DOLE knows how to develop delicious salad recipes. DOLE take so much pride in recipe development, plant nutrition research and of course, FLAVOR.
Fun day of “work” for me! Thank you for following along! Excuse me while I hang with the Elsa’s who clearly know how to have a good time…
And don’t forget this salad! (I can’t wait to hear if you are as obsessed as me about it, lol…)
Summertime magic at home? This DIY DOLE Whip is a personal fave.
disclosure: this post is sponsored by DOLE, but all opinions are my own.