Nutrition Column – Healthful Holiday Gift Ideas

Are you looking for just the right gift for a holiday exchange or for someone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen and is interested in promoting good health? Check out these gift ideas with a food and health focus.

Kitchen gadgets. Create a unique gift basket by combining one or more of the following gadgets with an assortment of seasonings, potholders or holiday dish towels. Each gadget sells for under $20 (some less than $5) and can be found in kitchen stores, catalogs or the housewares section of department stores and supermarkets.

– Gravy separators. Skim the fat from gravy and homemade soup by pouring mixtures into the separator, which looks like a measuring cup with a spout. After the fat rises to the top, pour the lower-fat portion of the gravy or soup from the spout.

– All-purpose household shears. Surgical stainless steel shears are great for trimming skin and fat from poultry or meat. Select ones that are designed for use with food.

– Egg separator. Replace one egg with two egg whites using this plastic tool that catches the yolk while the white flows into the bowl.  

Fitness gadgets and certificates. For gifts that truly will be "heart-felt," consider gadgets and gift certificates that promote fitness and help relieve stress.

– Pedometer or step-counter. Available for under $20, step-counters are an easy way to track the number of steps taken each day. They may provide the encouragement needed for that goal-oriented person on your list to take the stairs instead of the elevator or take the dog for a real walk. Step counters only measure steps taken. Pedometers tend to be more sophisticated and include information on distance traveled and calories expended. They also are more expensive and difficult to operate.

– Exercise classes. For the person who wants to exercise but hasn’t quite gotten motivated, how about a trial membership to the neighborhood fitness center or a series of aerobics or yoga classes.

– Massage. Day spas and independent licensed practitioners offer a variety of massages, from total body to scalp-only massages. All are guaranteed to be stress-relievers.

Books and cookbooks. An increasing variety of books on nutrition, fitness and low-fat, low-calorie cooking is available. Here are some new and old favorites by Colorado authors.

– "Easy Recipes for 1, 2 or a Few" ($12.95). In this cookbook, Fort Collins local, Anna Aughenbaugh, provides her family’s favorite recipes, but with less fat and sugar and in portions suitable for one or two. The recipes are quick and easy and include a nutritional analysis.

– "Simply Colorado Too" ($19.95). Developed by the Colorado Dietetic Association, this cookbook and its predecessor, "Simply Colorado," are a must for newlyweds and busy people everywhere. The recipes are quick, easy, foolproof and nutritious.

– "High Altitude Baking" ($14.95). Just off the press, this book is a compilation of the many different booklets developed by specialists with Colorado State University Cooperative Extension over the years. All recipes are adjusted for altitude and many have been adjusted to be lower in fat and sugar and higher in fruits, vegetables and whole grains than typical recipes. For order information, contact the Colorado Extension Resource Center at (970) 491-6198, or e-mail them at

by Pat Kendall, Ph.D., R.D., Food Science and Human Nutrition Specialist, Colorado State University, Cooperative Extension