For many people, holiday gift buying can be stressful. And I get it: It’s not always easy to find gifts that meet my three criteria: Something the recipient needs but might not buy for him or herself, something that’s both practical and special, and something that won’t break the bank. But buying health-oriented gifts can achieve all these aims — with the added bonus of potentially supporting the recipients’ well-being. Here’s what my registered dietitian pals say they would want (or would buy for others) this year:
— An exercise kit
— A blender
— Flavored bitters
— A donation
— Sports gear
— A mandoline
— A massage
— A mini chopper
— A bamboo cutlery set
1. An Exercise Kit
Patricia Bannan, author of “Eat Right When Time is Tight,” suggests a portable exercise kit called the Classic FitKit. “It comes with a jump rope, flat resistance band, tubing and anchors, and exercise cards with photos and instructions on what to do — all packed neatly in a 9-inch by 4-inch case,” Bannan says. “I keep it in my suitcase for when I travel, and many of my nutrition clients love it as well; they say it helps them stay fit on the road.” I bet it could also come in handy for home workouts.
2. A Blender
For the smoothie lover, Samantha Cassetty, a national nutrition and weight-loss expert based in New York City, has just the gift. “I’m obsessed with my Blendtec blender, a high-speed blender that I use to make luscious smoothies,” Cassetty says. “In my opinion, starting your day with a smoothie packed with protein, fruits and veggies is one of the healthiest things you can do.” A high-powered blender is important, she adds, since ice is what makes smoothies develop a thick, creamy texture. That consistency has been shown to be more filling than a thin blend with just as many calories.
3. Flavored Bitters
Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of “The Superfood Swap,” has the perfect hostess gift idea: flavored bitters. “Put a few drops into sparkling water and you’ll have a fancy drink without the calories or hangover of alcohol,” she says. Try lavender, cardamom or chocolate — some of Blatner’s favorites.
4. A Donation to a Healthy Cause
A gift idea that I always forget about and yet feel passionately about is a donation. Thanks, Jackie Newgent, culinary nutritionist and author of “The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook,” for reminding me yet again. “One of the health issues that affects my family, as well as many, many other families, is diabetes,” she says. “So one of the best holiday treats someone could give me would be a donation to the American Diabetes Association.” Newgent also recommends donations to the Natural Resources Defense Council for people who, like her, care deeply about the environmental impact on health.
5. Sports Gear
If there is a new sport in someone’s life, a gift that supports it could be a winner. Holley Grainger, owner of Cleverful Living with Holley Grainger, for example, started taking tennis lessons a few months ago. “This year, tennis gear is at the top of my Christmas list since I’ve been borrowing rackets and schlepping my stuff around in an oversized purse,” she says. She has her eye on Tecnifibre rackets (“they’ve been a favorite during clinic,” she says) and the 40 Love Couture Sophie bags, which she finds act as a “cute carryall.”
6. A Mandoline
Ellie Krieger, host of Ellie’s Real Good Food on public television and a two-time James Beard award-winning cookbook author, recommends gifting a mandoline (a kind of kitchen gadget). Her favorite is a type that has various blades and a safety holder to protect your hand when slicing. “It’s ideal for turning fruits and vegetables like potatoes, zucchini, apples and pears into crisp chips healthfully in the oven,” she says.
[See: 5 Healthy Homemade Chip Ideas.]
7. A Massage
Who doesn’t want a good massage? Joan Salge Blake, clinical associate professor at Boston University and the author of “Nutrition & You,” wants a prepaid, monthly massage therapy subscription. That might just break the bank, but Salge Blake makes her case by saying, “This monthly splurge will remind me to calm down, chill out and go to a happy place.” It’s hard to argue with that. Amy Gorin, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, would agree. “I find massages so relaxing, but I don’t always want to spend the money on spa treatments,” she says. “Massages allow me to completely relax and de-stress. Pus, who doesn’t love getting pampered?”
8. A Mini Chopper
Bonnie Taub-Dix, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of “Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table,” suggests a Cuisinart Mini Chopper. “Though I also have a gigantic monster of a food processor, I only drag it out on special occasions,” she says. (That’s better than me: I never drag the big one out!) “Instead,” Taub-Dix continues, “I rely on my easy-to-use mini version.” The baby chopper is perfect for whipping up guacamole quickly or crushing fresh tomatoes, garlic and herbs for pizza, she finds.
9. A Bamboo Travel Cutlery Set
This gift idea came to me after visiting my niece, who is a marine biologist in Hawaii. All through my vacation with her, she reminded me about our environment and how we should all be doing more to protect it. For example, she was appalled when were served plastic straws and felt coffee lids were unnecessary. So in honor of her and our environment, I am suggesting a bamboo travel cutlery set that includes a fork, knife, spoon and straw. Who doesn’t want to help make our world a better place?
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