Dole Whip Shake in Las Vegas

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I know, I know, I won’t shut up about the Dole Whip, the pineapple soft serve that is my favorite dairy-free frozen dessert. But I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the Dole Whip shake I had while on vacation in Las Vegas last week. My husband and I chose a scorchingly hot day to explore the Strip and happened upon a tiki bar called Island Time Floats that had a menu of several Dole Whip items (printed on a surfboard, no less). How could I resist?

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First, I sampled the Orange Float — basically, the same as a Dole Whip, but orange-flavored soft serve instead of pineapple. It tasted like Bayer Children’s Aspirin. Trust me, the pineapple Dole Whip is the only way to go.

Although tempted by the Ultimate Dole Whip, served in an actual pineapple, I opted for the shake. It’s a blend of fresh strawberries, pineapple juice, and of course, Dole Whip. It normally comes with whipped cream, but I asked the guy not to put any on mine since I’m lactose-intolerant. He topped my shake with a large head of Dole Whip instead. The wedge of pineapple, orchid blossom, and cocktail umbrella were the final touches that made this dessert “Instagram-ready.”

If only it had been a slightly less blistering day when you can’t feel your skin melting off your body — global warming is not a hoax, folks — maybe the Dole Whip wouldn’t have turned into a puddle quite so fast. But it was still delicious. The fresh strawberries were a nice complement to the taste of pineapple. I’m still a purist at heart, though, so in my opinion, nothing beats a plain ol’ Dole Whip.

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As for Island Time Floats, it’s not really a tiki bar, as it claims. For that, it needs some bamboo, puffer fish lamps, palapa umbrellas and, ideally, misters that would take the edge off the bone-dry desert climate. That would truly make Island Time a tropical oasis.

But we did our best to embody the island spirit.

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If you’re heading out to Vegas this summer, know that you can get the Happiest Dairy-Free Frozen Dessert on Earth at this little spot in the shopping arcade near Bally’s.

To read my post about Dole Whips at Disneyland and Palm Springs, click here.

For the one about Dole Whips at Brian’s Shave Ice in West Los Angeles, click here.

And for the one about Dole Whips at Dodger Stadium, click here.

ISLAND TIME FLOATS TIKI BAR, 3641 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109

Non-Alcoholic Pineapple Mint Mojito

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Next Sunday is Father’s Day, and to many of us that means one thing: barbecue. This year, consider making a special beverage that everyone can drink, adults and kids alike. It’s dairy-free, non-alcoholic, and super-healthy — that’s right, it contains kale!

As you can see in the photo above, it has a nice frothy head and looks great in a fun glass, like this midcentury highball that makes me think of Palm Springs. One day I had mine in a Star Wars tiki mug. What Star Wars fan wouldn’t want to drink a smoothie from a Jawa?

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Star Wars Geeki Tiki mugs available at ThinkGeek.com
But no matter the style of presentation, you’ll find this drink refreshingly tart and just the right amount of sweet. I adapted this recipe from the NutriBullet app, but you can make it in a regular blender, too.

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Non-Alcoholic Pineapple Mint Mojito Recipe

1 cup kale or spinach
1 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup fresh mint
juice of 1 lime
honey or other sweetener to taste
1 1/2 cup chilled coconut water

Add all ingredients to your NutriBullet cup or blender. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

Dole Whip at Dodger Stadium

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Those of you who know me and/or follow this blog know that I’m fanatical about the Dole Whip, a dairy-free pineapple soft-serve dessert that originated at Disneyland. It used to be that you could only get Dole Whips at Disneyland, Disney World, and the Dole Plantation in Hawaii. But now they’re showing up in a lot more places, and although I was worried this would make the Dole Whip less special… who cares? As long as it’s the real thing, I say, “Bring it on.”

Last weekend my husband and I went to a Dodger game, and anyone who’s been to Dodger Stadium knows how mediocre the food options are. (Don’t let the hype about Dodger Dogs fool you. They suck.) I was standing in line at the snack bar, reading the menu and talking to my husband on the phone to see if he wanted anything, when I blurted, “OH MY GOD! SWEETIE, THEY HAVE DOLE WHIPS! IN A HELMET!” so loudly that the entire queue turned around to look at me.

You have to understand, soft serve ice cream in a helmet was always one of my favorite treats at baseball games. To be honest, for me, watching baseball is really about the food. Of course, I can no longer eat soft serve because I’m lactose-intolerant. So to be able to have a Dole Whip — my favorite dairy-free alternative to ice cream — in one of those cute little hats is a dream come true.

They also have strawberry-flavored Dole Whips and pink Dodger helmets, but I went for the classic pineapple in a blue helmet. Incidentally, they also serve all kinds of nachos and fries in helmets. The nachos are so huge they come in a full-size helmet that you could wear while batting.

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The Dole Whip is a steep $7 but only 180 calories, as opposed to the nachos that contain approximately 67% of your daily calorie requirement.
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My friend Brooke (right) and her daughter. Those little helmets make great gifts!

I believe Dodger Stadium needs to step up its food game and follow the example set by stadiums like Safeco Field in Seattle and AT&T Park in San Francisco. If you’re going to make us spend fifty dollars on overpriced concessions, then at least give us some spicy fried grasshoppers or lobster rolls from Thomas Keller…

But until Los Angeles reaches that level of culinary sophistication, the addition of Dole Whips to the menu at Dodger Stadium is a move in the right direction. The only place I saw them was the LA Taquería on the Reserve level. If you can’t find a Dole Whip at the concession stand near your seats, keep looking and ask around.

DODGER STADIUM, 1000 Vin Scully Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012

Thai Jasmine Jell-O

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When I was a kid, my mom used to make almond Jell-O, a traditional Taiwanese dessert. She would add almond extract and milk to plain Knox Gelatin, chill it until it set, cut it into cubes, and serve it with ice and canned fruit cocktail. Last time I went to Taiwan, this refreshing dessert was everywhere.

I once tried making a dairy-free version by using almond milk instead of cow’s milk. You’d think that would work, right? But it didn’t. The almond milk didn’t play well with the gelatin and I ended up with a clumpy unappetizing mess.

Shopping at a Bangluck Market Thai grocery store, I came across a mix that looked a lot like my childhood comfort dessert, except that it’s jasmine instead of almond flavored. It contains non-dairy creamer instead of milk (although it isn’t safe for people with milk allergies because of the casein). The name could be better — “agar” makes me think of a petri dish — but the photo on the package sold it.

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And it’s easy to make. You simply add the mix to water, boil and stir. I poured the mixture into a wide, shallow dish so that the cubes wouldn’t come out too big when I cut them. I waited for the agar to cool before putting it in the fridge, and then discovered that it had already set at room temperature. Food science, man.

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When I added the fruit cocktail, it tasted very much like almond Jell-O… except not almond-y. The jasmine flavor was nice and subtle. If you’re a fan of jasmine tea, you’ll love it. My husband, who doesn’t care for almond Jell-O, actually liked the jasmine much better.

Bangluck Market is full of treasures like this, including Thai chile powder and roasted rice powder — two ingredients necessary to make a proper larb (Thai meat salad) — and some odd snack foods, such as potato chips that tasted like Froot Loops. I highly recommend you stop by the next time you’re in North Hollywood or the Thai Town section of Hollywood Boulevard.

BANGLUCK MARKET, 12980 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605
BANGLUCK MARKET, 5170 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027

Dairy-Free Mango Lassi

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Less than a week after I swore off dairy-free yogurts because all the ones I tried were horrible, I bought another one. Go ahead and laugh. But I finally found a good one! Hooray!

It’s called Coyo Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative and I found it at Bristol Farms, an overpriced gourmet supermarket in LA that you should never shop at unless you have money to burn. This 5.3-ounce cup cost $3.69. But you know… research.

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I was willing to give this one a shot because it only has four ingredients and they all sounded reasonable: coconut cream, tapioca, pectin and probiotic cultures. It’s dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and GMO-free.

And I’m happy to report that it tastes great!

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It tastes mostly like coconut, with a good dose of yogurt-y sour. Unlike the other dairy-free yogurts I’ve tried, it’s actually white, rather than an unappetizing beige.

It’s also super thick and creamy. In fact, you can even use it in place of whipped cream, which I did with the leftovers after I made my mango lassi. Just add some honey to take the edge off the tartness and you’ve got a healthy dessert topping.

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This yogurt was perfect as the base for my mango lassi. Just as I was resigning myself to a life without lassi, along comes Coyo! At $3.69 a cup, it’s a “sometimes treat,” but I encourage all you lassi lovers to try it at least once.

Here’s the recipe. The rose water is optional, but adds a lovely flavor. You can find it in most Persian markets.

Dairy-Free Mango Lassi

3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup Coyo Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative (Natural)
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon honey
1 pinch cardamom
1/2 teaspoon rose water

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Makes one serving.

Good Karma Dairy-Free Yogurt

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You’d think I’d have some good karma from diligently trying all these dairy-free yogurts. After all, back in my dairy-eating days, I never even liked yogurt that much. But now I’d give my left nut to find a dairy-free yogurt that tastes half as good as Yoplait.

Good Karma Dairy-Free Yogurt is made from flaxmilk. I’ve never tasted flaxmilk straight up, so I can’t tell you if this yogurt tastes like it. What I can tell you is, it’s awful. And my hopes were not high, since I hated both the coconut-milk-based So Delicious yogurt and the almond-milk-based Almond Dream yogurt.

My expectations sank even further when I removed the lid and saw this yellow clumpy mess.

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After a vigorous stirring, it looked slightly more palatable, but not much.

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I mustered up my courage and put a spoonful into my mouth. The first flavor that hit me was intense sweet, followed quickly by sour. I thought, “This tastes like a condiment.” Condiments are often vinegar-based (sour) and contain a lot of sugar (sweet). This yogurt tastes like something you’d dip a Chicken McNugget into! I know yogurt is supposed to be sour, but this sour just tasted wrong.

After the initial sweet-and-sour flavor assault, I was left with a weird aftertaste that I can only describe as “unnatural.” I read the ingredients and found “pea protein isolate,” which has been in some other vegan products I’ve tried and didn’t like. I also found “cane sugar,” something I never want to see on an ingredients list. I mean, if you’re drinking a Coke, I suppose cane sugar is better than high fructose corn syrup… but it’s still sugar. And I don’t want sugar in my yogurt.

Needless to say, I’m giving a big thumbs-down to Good Karma Dairy-Free Yogurt. The stuff tastes nothing like yogurt. I know I keep saying that about dairy-free yogurts, but it’s true. I’m officially done with trying them unless someone has a recommendation. If you’ve had one that actually tastes like yogurt, let me know in the comments section!

Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Caramel Almond Brittle

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This is the fourth Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream I’ve reviewed, so I’m going to make this one short. This flavor reminded me of Häagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche, although less rich and more crunchy. The caramel swirls are smooth and just slightly salty, and the crunch of the almond brittle gives the texture a nice balance.

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The only thing I don’t like about Caramel Almond Brittle is its strong almond-extract flavor, which shows up mostly as an aftertaste. Incidentally, I mentioned this almond-extract flavor in my review of MALK almond milk. If you like that flavor, you will like this ice cream. If not, my recommendation is to steer clear.

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None of the other Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice creams I’ve tried — P.B. & Cookies, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and Chunky Monkey — have this almond-extract flavor, despite all of them being made with an almond milk base. So my guess is they added that flavor to Caramel Almond Brittle to boost its “almondness.”

I still haven’t lost faith in Ben & Jerry, though. My hope is that they’re working on Non-Dairy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Until then, P.B. & Cookies is still at the top of my list.