I’m back for part 2 of my Dole Food & Wellness Blogger Summit recap! If you’re just tuning in, check out part 1 first 🙂
This one features our:
IRON CHEF COOKING CHALLENGE!!!
That’s me with one of my teammates, Brooke, who is SO much fun 🙂
There were 6 pre-selected teams for the cooking challenge. Two faced off in a salad challenge, two in a dessert challenge, and my team faced off another in the entree cooking challenge!
Each of the two teams facing off were provided a bag that included 4 to 5 identical items. All items in the bag had to be used in our dish in some way, and we were also given access to a huge table full of produce, spices, nuts, fruit, oil, etc. to supplement our dishes as we saw fit.
I want to have this set up in my house, heh.
The dream team:
- Maria (on the right below) and her husband, Josh
- Odalis (from Dole — in the middle below)
We had exactly 50 minutes to create a delicious and healthy dish using Dole products for the judges to evaluate. Entries were judged on creativity, use of Dole products, nutrition knowledge portrayed during our presentation to the judges (using what we learned in one of the earlier nutrition sessions), plating presentation, and, of course, taste!
In my group’s bag, we received:
- Baby spinach
- Fresh salmon
- Fresh cranberries
- Dry lentils
We quickly flew into action!
Our competition cooking away — bring it on, ladies 😉
We had SO much fun cooking.
First, we got the lentils simmering in some veggie broth (to which we later added some chopped onions and garlic).
Then, we tackled the salmon. We decided to make Pistachio Encrusted Salmon 🙂
After rolling the salmon in a mixture of salt, pepper, and crushed pistachios, we debated how to cook it. We thought about baking it… but then decided to sear it in some olive oil in a pan instead!
For our side dishes, we decided the more veggies the better to make the meal super nutritious and therefore impress the judges 😉
Since I was the veggie queen of the group, I suggested sauteing the spinach in some lemon juice and olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper. I also suggested we do the same with a bunch of string beans from the produce table!
Here we are cooking madly… time is running out! We had a lot of trouble deciding what to do with the cranberries. We debated making a sauce to top the salmon (before the pistachio idea), but didn’t think it would go with the lentils. Then we tried cooking some of it with the spinach… blech. Finally, it was decided to just make a simple cranberry compote, scented with some orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It came out great!
We finished in the nick of time! I was selected as the group’s “plater” — making the meal look pretty on the plate — and also as the person who would present the meal to the judges and explain its nutritional content, considering I’m in school for nutrition right now and all 😉
First up — our Pistachio Encrusted Salmon, set atop a bed of garlic infused lentils. You’ve got your healthy omega-3 fatty acids from the salmon, even more healthy fats from the nuts, and lots of fiber and vegetarian protein from the lentils.
Next — a whole bag of lemony garlic sauteed spinach. Lots of nutrients packed into dark green veggies (spinach is a great source of iron, too!).
On the other side of the plate, lemony garlic sauteed string beans! I LOVE string beans — so nutritious and delicious. Filling half your plate with veggies at meals is an awesome way to get more nutrition in 🙂
And, lastly, our Orange and Nutmeg Scented Cranberry Compote, for some color and antioxidant power!
Our challengers made a cranberry salmon spinach salad with a side of this pretty lentil soup:
After presenting it to the judges, we waited.
And watched while they sampled and discussed our dishes. Ah, the suspense!
And then — guess what? My team won!!!! 🙂 Here we are, victorious, with our fun prizes for winning:
We rule, clearly. Hehe. Here’s a close up of our winner’s prize — two cute dish cloths wrapped around some fun cooking utensils! Yay 🙂
So fun! We got to sample everyone’s challenge entries when the judging was over, too. Lots of tasty creations! And our meal rocked, not gonna lie. 🙂
When the competition was over, they served us real dinner! I think they were worried that our dishes wouldn’t come out well enough, heh.
We started with a delicious cauliflower soup infused with truffle oil — yum:
Our main course was a buffet, using a lot of the same ingredients that we did for our chef challenge. Salmon with a spinach sauce:
And salad, roasted veggies, and risotto! Yum. This is definitely the healthiest food I’ve ever had when traveling. Love it!
For dessert, we had a sort of pineapple mousse cake atop thinly sliced pieces of mango. This was really tasty and beautifully displayed, too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed virtually attending the Dole Food and Wellness Blogger Summit with me! 🙂
Stay tuned for one final Dole Summit post — on Monday, I’ll be posting pictures from my fitness workout on Thursday afternoon! If you are in a strength training rut, this should give you some GREAT new ideas. Be sure to check back tomorrow, too — I’ll be sharing my favorite quick, easy, and healthy Thanksgiving recipes.
Have a great Saturday!