Nutrition Column – ’tis the Season for Healthful Gift Giving

With only a few short weeks until Christmas, it’s time to kick your holiday shopping into high gear. If you’re still in need of just the right gift for that special someone, why not consider giving the gift of health? Giving a gift that helps promote good health says a lot about how much you care for the person. Here are a few suggestions for gifts with a health and wellness focus.

– A cookbook with a low-fat, low-calorie theme or one that promotes the use of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in recipes. There are many great cookbooks available; choose one that you know will fit the person’s tastes and schedule. A new one just out by a local author is "Secret Recipes from the Corner Market" by Carol Ann Kates. For a more personal touch, you may want to consider making your own cookbook by copying your favorite nutritious recipes onto recipe cards and organizing them in a binder.

– A basket of kitchen gadgets. Create a unique gift basket by combining a variety of kitchen utensils and gadgets, such as potholders, holiday dish towels, food scale, vegetable steamer, gravy separator, skewers for grilling vegetables, egg separator, coffee grinder to grind whole spices into powder, or kitchen shears. Many of these items are available for less than $20 and some cost less than $5.  

– A fitness bag with a pedometer or step-counter, hand weights or resistance bands and bottled water. Step counters measure steps taken and are available for under $15. Pedometers tend to be more sophisticated and include information on distance traveled and calories expended. They also are more expensive and difficult to operate.

– A basket of fruits and nuts. For the food lovers on your list, create an attractive and colorful gift by filling a basket with apples, tangerines, oranges, pineapple and a variety of nuts. Add an apple corer and slicer to help make it easier to cut and share apple slices. If kept cool, the fruit should last for several weeks.

– Homemade bread. Rather than baking higher-fat cookies and candies, give homemade quick breads or whole-wheat yeast bread.

– A salad bowl filled with all the ingredients needed to make a salad. Include a paring knife, vegetable peeler, salad tongs and salad dressing along with a variety of lettuces, vegetables and fruits.

– Gift certificates. Give the gift of a meal at a restaurant that offers a variety of healthy, low-calorie or vegetarian menu items. For the person on your list who has always wanted to learn to cook or improve their cooking skills, give a gift certificate for cooking classes. Or for the person who is interested in fitness, give a trial membership to the local fitness center. For a no-cost option, design your own gift certificates for weekly walks, bike rides or hikes. Not only will the person get the benefit of exercise, he or she will also get to spend some quality time with you.

– A little rest and relaxation. A gift of a manicure, pedicure, facial or massage is a great way to promote well-being. Day spas, hair salons and independent licensed practitioners offer a variety of services that are sure to reduce anyone’s stress level.

– 30 –

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