To start things off, here is your Monday motivation! Motivation Monday: “What you eat in private you wear in public.”
Thank you so much to my beautiful bunnies who bought shirts from United Luv . Ryan’s family and I are so overwhelmed with your support and I cannot thank you enough. For those of you who purchased shirts, I will be putting something special in the mail for you this week!
This week is one of the first in months that I will actually be home for more than 5 days! I have been traveling all over the US for my blog and am finally home snuggled up in my own bed. I have been blessed with so many incredible opportunities because of my blog. Sometimes I find myself in (happy) tears because I just can’t believe what RFFMBT has become. Thank you to all of my readers for reading, commenting, tweeting, pinning, re-gramming, sharing, and most importantly supporting me. You have changed my life!
Last week I went on an amazing trip to Carmel, CA for Dole’s Taste of Spain Salad Summit!
DAY 1: Travel, Dole dinner, and s’mores!
I left early Monday morning from Orange County with a connection at San Francisco International Airport before arriving in Monterey, CA. The weather was gorgeous, but I somehow ended up with a 3 hour delay in SF. In between switching gates multiple times I found two other Dole Salad Summit Bloggers: Nikki from Chef in Training and Marie from Make and Takes ! When our mysteriously delayed/missing plane arrived we couldn’t help but laugh at how tiny it was! We weren’t expecting a little propellor plane haha. Nikki was in the very first seat on the plane in her own row. Photo op was a must. Safe to say I actually payed attention to the safety briefing!
There’s Nikki in her own row! VIP chef haha.
When we finally arrived in Monterey, we were greeted by our driver with a Dole sign and got into our escalade. It felt like a scene out of Gossip Girl! Away we went to Carmel Valley Ranch .
We arrived at Carmel Valley Ranch and checked into our gorgeous rooms. CVR is absolutely stunning! The hotel has a natural rustic look that is relaxing and upscale without being over the top. I definitely enjoyed my wraparound balcony and two fireplaces! Besides the gorgeous decor and tranquil views of my room, I was impressed my Carmel Valley Ranch’s dedication to energy saving. My suite was equipped with many simple and sophisticated energy efficient and environmental friendly features. When entering the room, you simply place your hotel keycard into a slot by the door to turn on the power to the fans, air conditioning, lights, etc. When leaving the suite, all you need to do is simply remove the room keycard and all lights and A/C are turned off to conserve energy. No need to run around turning all of the lights off each time you leave. The top outlet plugs can run without the card, so you can still charge your electronics when you leave, too. It’s pretty remarkable and so simple! I have so much appreciation for a stunning hotel with great service that is also eco-friendly. It just goes to show that hotels can still have wonderful 5 star accommodations while contributing to our environmentally friendly efforts.
Gorgeous view of Carmel Valley from my room. Each morning I woke up to deer and wild turkey’s roaming around the fog covered hills.
After getting settled into my room I changed out of my plane clothes and joined everyone for dinner at the hotel. I loved meeting new friends from Dole and talking with Lisa Gosselin from Eating Well Magazine at dinner. My bunny cell phone case was a huge hit at the table every time I got it out to take a photo!
Dinner was a gorgeous mix of fresh salad greens from Dole’s local farms and perfectly cooked veggies (not photographed because I ate it so quickly!) followed by none other than a decadent Dole Pineapple Upside Down Cake !
After dinner some of the other bloggers and I headed over to the pool area for s’mores! Carmel Valley Ranch has a s’more bar open for guests every night! How cute is this? They even had wipes to clean off sticky s’more hands!
Our little helper Roxy (a permanent Carmel Valley Ranch Resident) joined for s’more roasting!
DAY 2: Touring the lettuce fields!
Tuesday morning started off with a delicious breakfast incorporating Dole salad greens! Dole prepared an Asparagus Salad Topped with Poached Eggs that was to die for! I LOVE my greens, especially in smoothies, so I was super excited to see a green smoothie created by Dole!
3 cups frozen white grapes
2 packed cups DOLE® Baby Spinach
1 1/2 cups strong brewed green tea, cooled
1 medium ripe avocado
2 teaspoons honey
Combine grapes, spinach, green tea, avocado and honey in a blender; blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
After breakfast, we headed to Salinas to visit a Iceberg Lettuce field. For those of you who haven’t driven through Salinas, California, this is the famous Lettuce Man. So awkwardly amazing! hahaha. Every time I drive to Carmel, I always laugh at this huge cutout in Salinas. I was really talking up Lettuce Man to my fellow bloggers during the car ride, so I secretly asked the bus driver if he would drive by the cutout so we could get photos. Everyone was cracking up when they saw Lettuce Man! SO worth it!
Lettuce fields forever!
How gorgeous is this lettuce? It literally looks like someone perfectly placed it there!
The owner of this specific field, farmer Mark Pisoni, grows multiple types of lettuce for Dole. Right after we hopped off of the bus he took a huge head of lettuce from the ground, chopped off the end, and took a big bite! We all got to take bites of the fresh lettuce straight from the field. It was crisp and seriously juicy!
A member of Mark’s team and Kelly from Dole with big ol’ heads of fresh lettuce! No one can pull off a hairnet quite like Kelly! For those of you who are wondering, we were required to wear hairnets while on the field because of FDA guidelines that are set for Dole.
Getting a briefing on the harvesting process on the field.
It was incredible to see Mark and his team harvesting lettuce by hand up close and personal in the fields. It still shocks me that Iceberg Lettuce is so affordable (around $2 per head) after seeing all of the manual labor that goes into harvesting it. The harvesting team puts lots of love into that lettuce, so make sure to thank your farmers! I have so much appreciation and respect for farmers!
The Dole team and bloggers knee deep in lettuce.
Lettuce to my knees!
Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats (and her adorable baby bump!) and Stacy Fraser from Eating Well Magazine walking through the field!
Frolicking through the field in my Eat More Rabbit Food hoodie! Rabbit. Food. Heaven. Is this real life?!
Our next stop of the day was to the Dole Packaging Plant. After lettuce is harvested from the field, it is immediately transported to here to be triple washed, cut, packed, and shipped to a grocery store near you! Sorry folks, no photos were allowed during this part of the tour.
After touring the packaging plant, we made our way to the lab with Emilio! While at the lab, we were given a Lettuce 101 test! Probably my favorite test of all times! It reminded me of bio tests in high school much way better, because it consisted of lettuce. lots o’ lettuce! Emilio and the Dole team displayed 25 different types of lettuce and fresh vegetables marked with numbers for us to identify! Saldy team RFFMBT could only match 16 correctly! I need to study up!!! Don’t worry, I DEFINITELY identified kale and baby kale correctly! haha.
A look at Dole’s new Taste of Spain inspired promotional packaging! Look closely at the bottom left of select lettuce bags, you could win a 40,000 trip to Spain! Yes, it’s confirmed, Dole is the best!
After visiting the plant, we made our way to Paraiso Vineyards for some wine and lunch!
The view of Salinas was stunning! Lettuce fields for days!
Dole roasted veggies and cheese with some white wine.
Fresh Dole Arugula and Quinoa Salad tossed with grape tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, smoked almonds, fets cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Once we finished lunch, we headed back to Carmel Valley ranch for a Global Trends Seminar with Lisa Gosselin from Eating Well ! It was fun learning what foods are trending all over the world and what meal is gaining the most popularity. I was shocked to learn that only 1 in 100 eat the recommended serving of fruits and veggies per day.WOW. That NEEDS to change! We should all be filling our plates with fruits and veggies at every meal!
My best advice to help incorporate veggies into your meals easier is to start with vegetables as your base. Growing up, I always remember my parents starting our meals with a meat. I would come home from school and my mom would tell me “tonight we’re having chicken with rice and steamed broccoli.” Dinner would be served with a large piece of chicken, generous helping of rice, and small (almost minuscule) side of broccoli. I think we have been building our meals wrong all along. The main star should be the produce! Why not start your meal with a vegetable? Say… Broccoli, and then add your desired protein, whole grain, and serving of fat from there. This way you will end up with a full serving of veggies from the start! It’s a simple and easy way to add more vegetables without running your family out of the kitchen!
Once the Global Trends Seminar concluded, Executive Chef Brandon Miller from Mundaka taught a healthy tapas cooking class!
We numbered off into groups for a tapas competition! There’s Jane from This Week for Dinner chopping away!
Executive Chef Brandom Miller and Mundaka owner Gabe Georis took the tapas competition judging very seriously!
Next on the itinerary was dinner at Mundaka in Carmel-By-the-Sea for some Spanish tapas!
I squealed over the bull salt and pepper shakers, they’re so cute!!! I’m a dork!
Gabe Georis demonstrating how to drink wine out of the Porron. As you can see, most of us couldn’t figure it out and resorted to pouring it straight into a glass! There was lots of wine splashing everywhere, and everyone was having a great time!
We ate an unbelievable amount of tapas at Mundaka that night! Some of the highlights were the Seafood Paella and rich chocolate with toast for dessert! I loved how excited Gabe Georis to have us for dinner. His restaurant has a family vibe as he is always walking around from table to table greeting his dinner guests. You can tell how much he loves his restaurant and guests! If you love seafood, you should definitely stop by Mundaka if you are in the area!
The next morning I sat down for a bite to eat at breakfast during our last seminar with Stacy Fraser from Eating Well before heading to Monterey Airport for my flight home. As soon as I got to the airport I grabbed a fresh cup of java from my favorite local coffee roasting company in Carmel and boarded my plane. While flying on the big bird I began writing my post for Ryan + United Luv to celebrate his birthday. It was hard leaving all of my new blogger friends, beautiful suite, and freshly prepared dole meals, but I’m having so much fun spreading the salad love with all of my bunnies! I have some fun events and giveaways coming up, but before then I promise I will post some new recipes for you guys! I know you have been patiently waiting while I traveled the country, but the recipes will be worth it!