Dairy-Free Banana Split


During the summer, I always get nostalgic for banana splits. They’re the ultimate in old-fashioned ice cream parlor fare: three scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate, strawberries, and pineapple, nestled in between two halves of a banana. Usually, it’s finished off with whipped cream, nuts, and a maraschino cherry. Who needs that much sugar? Nobody!

But I thought it would be fun to go crazy and make one of these monsters. Since I’m lactose-intolerant, I used Simple Truth Vanilla Bean Almond Dessert, a dairy-free ice cream made from almond milk. Simple Truth is the “healthy” line of the Kroger store brand.


If you follow my blog, you know I’ve tried quite a few dairy-free ice creams, and very few of them taste as good as the real thing. Coconut-based ice creams tend to taste overwhelmingly like coconuts. The almond-based ones tend to taste like almonds. With a flavor like vanilla, it’s hard to mask the taste of the base.

Simple Truth’s vanilla is just okay. It doesn’t have as much of a vanilla-heavy flavor as I would like. You can definitely taste the almond milk in it, although it’s not as cloying as some almond milk products.


But it did a decent job in the banana split. I topped it with fresh, chopped strawberries and pineapple instead of the usual processed syrups. Even so, the sweetness of the fruit, combined with the Hershey’s chocolate syrup and the ice cream, were enough to make me want to hurl after a few bites.

How did I ever manage to eat that much sugar when I was kid? Perhaps some memories don’t need to be relived.


Dole Whip Shake in Las Vegas


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?


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.


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.


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

IMG_8976 (1)

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?

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.


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


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.

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.
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

Brian’s Shave Ice

This Dole Whip is the real thing!

I’ve lived in this West LA neighborhood for three years, and I just found out that I could get a real Dole Whip a mile from my house! To see why I’m so nuts about the Dole Whip, Disneyland’s legendary dairy-free pineapple soft serve, you can read my previous blog post here.

I never bothered to check out Brian’s Shave Ice — a small shop on the stretch of Sawtelle Boulevard known as Little Osaka — because quite frankly, I’m confused by shave ice. But on Friday night, my husband and I wandered in and saw that they had Dole Whips. I didn’t even bother to read the rest of the menu. I just ordered a Dole Whip straight away.

It came in a sad Styrofoam cup, but the portion was larger than what you get at Disneyland. The single was big enough for both of us to share. And it tasted exactly like the ones at Disneyland. This makes Brian’s Shave Ice one of the Happiest Places on Earth.

Their Hawaiian-themed decor is super-cute: fake leis, palapa fringe, old-fashioned Pan Am Hawaii posters. Best of all is the sign that says “Keep Calm and Have a Dole Whip” with the icon of Cinderella’s castle above it.

This so needs to be on a T-shirt.

And by the way, they also have Dole Whip floats, and you can use Dole Whip as the base for your shave ice. No doubt I will be visiting Brian’s Shave Ice way too often from now on.

BRIAN’S SHAVE ICE, 11301 W. Olympic Blvd. Suite 103, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Dole Whip

If I had to name my all-time favorite summertime treat, it would be the Dole Whip, a creamy yet dairy-free pineapple soft serve ice cream that’s sold at the Tiki Juice Bar in Disneyland. I was going to hold off on writing about the Dole Whip until my next Disneyland trip, but because of my foot issues I probably won’t be back there for a while. In the meantime, people visiting the Happiest Place on Earth this summer need to know about the Dole Whip. My advice to them is: Get thee to Adventureland and dig into this refreshing treat before doing anything else in the park.

I was looking through my photo albums for a shot of the Dole Whip for this blog, but couldn’t find one. “How could this be?” I wondered. “I’ve eaten a Dole Whip every time I’ve gone to Disneyland” (and let me tell you, that’s a lot). Then I realized that I was always in such a hurry to tuck into my Dole Whip that I couldn’t bear to wait two seconds to take a picture of it.

So the picture you see here is actually of a Dole Whip I had at Lappert’s, an ice cream shop in Palm Springs. Lappert’s originated in Hawaii; hence, the tropical bent of its menu. Lappert’s Dole Whip did, indeed, taste like the real thing. But you have to get one at Disneyland to truly appreciate how special it is.

Enjoying an unexpected Dole Whip in Palm Springs.

Disneyland’s Tiki Juice Bar, sponsored by Dole, is the first thing you see when you enter Adventureland. It’s the little thatched hut with an enormous line in front of it. Don’t be deterred — the wait is well worth it. You can either get a Dole Whip or a Dole Whip Float. The float is a Dole Whip that’s swimming in pineapple juice, adorned with a paper umbrella and maraschino cherry. This latter option can be quite nice if you’re thirsty. You can also order plain old pineapple juice, which is sometimes served in a really cool souvenir tiki cup.


Here’s an insider tip: There’s a (usually) shorter line on the other side of the Tiki Juice Bar, inside the Enchanted Tiki Room waiting area. While you’re in line, you get to watch vintage Dole Plantation films that show pineapples being harvested. The Enchanted Tiki Room is a classic Disney attraction that features singing animatronic birds, a tropical thunderstorm, and other freaky effects that you need to see for yourself. On a hot day, there’s nothing more rejuvenating than enjoying a Dole Whip while relaxing inside the Enchanted Tiki Room.


The fact that you can only get the Dole Whip at Disneyland and a handful of other places adds to its mystique. I once drove all the way to a Lollicup in Alhambra because on Yelp it said they had Dole Whips. Their Dole Whip was pretty decent, but the next time I went back, they no longer had them, claiming it was out of season. Of course, Disneyland has Dole Whips all year round.


You may think this is much ado about nothing, but the Dole Whip really does deserve all the fanfare it receives. It’s a tasty dessert by anyone’s standards, but if you’re lactose-intolerant, it’s the Holy Grail. I’d been eating Dole Whips for years, popping Lactaid pills in order to digest them because they were too delicious to resist. The day I learned they were dairy-free and I could eat them without a Lactaid was a happy day indeed. I adore both pineapple and soft serve, so what could be better than this perfect blend of the two? And dairy-free, no less!

UPDATE (as of 1/2/17): Brian’s Shave Ice on Olympic in West L.A. has the Dole Whip. This is a dream come true… but ironically, I haven’t gotten a Dole Whip since I reviewed Brian’s Shave Ice last October. Why? I don’t want it to stop being special.

TIKI JUICE BAR, Disneyland, 1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92802

LAPPERT’S ICE CREAM, 130 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA 92262

LOLLICUP, 228 West Valley Blvd. Ste 106A, Alhambra, CA 91801

BRIAN’S SHAVE ICE, 11301 W. Olympic Blvd. Suite 103, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Dairy-Free Virgin Piña Colada


Memorial Day is almost here, which means summer is approaching and we need tropical beverages. Here’s a recipe that is fun and dairy-free. I adapted it from a recipe on Real Plans, a menu-planning website that I subscribe to. One of the reasons I love Real Plans is that it contains tons of dairy-free recipes.

This is technically a smoothie, but add a splash of rum and you’ve got a cocktail. I also recommend serving it in a coconut shell or a tiki mug. I would’ve done that for the picture, but I thought the glass would give you a better view.

My favorite part about making this recipe is you can sing that Harry Nilsson song that goes, “You put the lime in the coconut,” and actually be doing just that.

Dairy-Free Virgin Piña Colada Recipe

1 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 ripe banana
1/2 cup coconut cream (chilled)
1/2 cup coconut water (chilled)
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon raw honey

Put all the ingredients in a blender. (Be sure to sing, “You put the lime in the coconut,” when adding the lime juice.) Blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings.