Although holiday gift guides are just about everywhere on the internet, most of them seem to have the same tired suggestions. With the Christmas deadline just one week away, I wanted to offer up a few gift ideas specifically for the healthy foodies in your life. I hope at least a few of these are a bit more creative and unique than you’ve seen before!
(Full disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links — if you click on them and make a purchase, I’ll earn a small commission. Thanks for your support, and happy holidays!)
1. Nutrition Action Healthletter
Published by the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest, this highly readable, incredibly informative monthly newsletter will help your nutritionally-minded loved ones stay up to date on the latest in nutrition. They always include practical, actionable recommendations, and a few recipes, too. My mom has been a subscriber as long as I can remember, and I’m a subscriber now, too.
One Year Gift Subscription to Nutrition Action Healthletter – $10.00
2. A Do-It-Yourself Mozzarella Kit
This mozzarella kit includes everything you need (except milk) to make about twenty pounds of mozzarella. I’ve been using this recipe for several years now, and I find it makes wonderful cheese using 2% milk. A gallon of milk makes about a pound of wonderful, fresh, delicious cheese. It’s also a great party trick: Show up with this kit and a gallon of milk, borrow your friends’ kitchen, and half an hour later you can come out with the freshest mozzarella imaginable. It’s great fun for cooks, and a great icebreaker if you want to discuss the slow food, local, or real food movements.
3. A Home Yogurt Maker
My mom had one of these when I was growing up, too (I think they were pretty popular in the 70s). They’re making a comeback, and with good reason! Pour some milk into the jars, add some starter (meaning: a little bit of fresh yogurt), and let it run overnight. In the morning you’ll have a quart or two of fresh yogurt. Saves money and trash — what could be better?
Home Yogurt Makers – Around $40, available at Amazon
4. A Tea-Infuser Travel Mug
Sure, the tea afficianado in your home probably already has a bunch of tea gadgets. But do they have a combo travel-mug/tea-infuser? Check out this clear, double-walled (and oh-so-sexy!) 16-ounce mug from Trudeau($12.95) or this more classic 12-ounce Thermos ($18.99).
While you’re at it, why not include some tea? I’ve been drinking Davidson’s Organic Gunpowder Green Tea for a couple of years now (I like the taste, it stands up to a second brewing, and at about $12/pound from Amazon, it’s a price that can’t be beat!).
5. A Hand-Crank Grain Mill
If you’re looking for a health-promoting kitchen gadget for the cook who seems to have everything, I bet they don’t have this! Be sure to include a few bags of whole grains to get them started.
Victorio Hand Crank Grain Mill – $60.29 at Amazon
6. A Kyocera Ceramic Knife
To be a great cook, you need good knives. Sure, many cooks already have ones they love, but they probably still dream of others. A somewhat unique knife your recipient might not yet have is the Kyocera “Revolution” Series Ceramic Knives. I was skeptical when Matty got me one a couple of months ago, but now it’s my go-to knife. It’s insanely sharp and light — and the ceramic blade holds a sharp edge longer than steel. The only downsides are that blades are a little more brittle than steel — so be careful not to drop the knife (duh), or to pry with it (duh) — and that you have to send it back to Kyocera for (free) sharpening.
If you’re not so sure about the ceramic knife, but still like the idea of gifting a good knife (or knife set), I suggest going to Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma and trying them out. No picture online or in a catalog can substitute for actually holding the knife and feeling the weight, balance, and construction.
Kyocera Revolution Ceramic Knives $36 to $80, on Amazon
7. An Immersion Blender
This is one of those kitchen gadgets that are a little less common than a blender or food processor, but are oh-so-handy! After reading lots of user reviews, I recently bought the KitchenAid KHB300 Hand Blender Kit (in “Empire Red,” of course). I particularly like that it has 9 different speed settings. The kit comes with the blender itself, plus a chopper attachment (since I don’t have a food processor, this will make a good substitute), a whisk attachment, and an extra chopping container. You can also get it with fewer attachments (saving some money and gadget-storage space).
KitchenAid Immersion Blender – $44.48 to $99.95, depending on accessories and color
8. One Blender To Rule Them All
Immersion blender not good enough? Then get your loved one the most bad-ass blender in existence: The Vitamix. Trust me, your foodie friend is already lusting after one of these.
Vitamix Professional Blender – $498.95, on Amazon
9. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer Attachments
They probably already have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer (If they don’t, please stop reading this and go buy them one right now! I prefer the 5-quart style with the tilting head, not the more expensive version with the bowl that raises and lowers). But do they have some of the niftiest attachments? I’m partial to the Pasta Cutter ($67.98), but you’ll also find a slew of other attachments.
10. Can’t Go Wrong With A Book!
The just-released TENDER: Farmers, Cooks, Eaters ($40.00) is my favorite year-end recommendation. I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of the book, and loved the entire philosophy. More than just a book of recipes, Chef Tamara Murphy offers simple, straightforward instructions on how to select produce (including some gems like: Yellow wax beans should have “enough fuzz to cling to one’s shirt”) and great techniques and tips for preparing vegetables (including more esoteric ones like fava beans, leeks, and jerusalem artichokes). Check out my review of the book on their site!
You can never have enough cookbooks, of course! My more indulgent holiday recommendation is Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours ($19.77, hardcover). She does not fear butter, cream, or sugar, but all of the recipes use whole grains — in some pretty creative ways..
For the budding gardener, Eating Rules reader Curt Stimpson recommends The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith ($16.47, paperback) and The Sustainable Vegetable Garden: A Backyard Guide to Healthy Soil and Higher Yields by John Jeavons ($10.36, paperback).
If you know someone on the left coast who’s a little more adventurous outside the kitchen, the Pacific Coast Foraging Guide ($7.95) might be just the thing. (Hat tip to @Herbguy and @Hank_Shaw for their recommendation via twitter).
11. Missed the shipping deadline? Give an E-Book!
My friend Michelle Stern, from What’s Cooking, has an E-Book of recipes for kids filled with recipes inspired by popular books and movies. Charlotte’s Web, Star Wars, Ratatouille, Looney Tunes, and Finding Nemo bring us recipes such as Barnyard Blackberry Puffs, Dill Vader Refrigerator Pickles and more… I haven’t seen it yet, but if it’s anything like her upcoming cookbook (which I have had a chance to preview — it’s due out in April 2011), I’m sure it’s totally fab. Whats Cooking in Books and Movies ($2.99, digital download).
12. Give Some Homemade Goodness
I can’t think of a better way to tell someone you love them than by cooking for them — and I’m pretty sure most Eating Rules readers feel the same, judging by the entries/suggestions in the Perfect Portions Nutritional Scale Giveaway earlier this week. A lot is in the presentation, of course, so be sure you dress up your gift with a ribbon or other creative decoration. Here are some of my favorites ideas:
Apple Butter (From Tina – Here’s her recipe.)
Herbed Vinegar (From Bekah, who says to “Pour red wine vinegar over fresh herbs and orange peel, in pretty glass bottles.”)
Soup Kits (From Marcia, who suggests you include “include pasta, dried beans, spices, and instructions.”)
Dried Fruit (From Diana: “Season apples, pears, and some other great fruits, then make some sweet and delicious fruitful confections. Wrap them in some cheesecloth, tie with a ribbon, and voilà!”)
Granola (Jean and Becky, who says it’s better than the “usual cookies.”)
Jam (Shari, who suggests going low-sugar, but be sure to keep it in the fridge).
A “Health Basket” (Sara suggests including a decorated water bottle, workout journal, and healthy homemade granola bars and trail mix).
Another terrific idea I came across this past week is Homemade Lip Balm. I’m particularly excited about this one because we’ve been struggling for awhile now to find a lip balm that we like that doesn’t include the sunscreen oxybenzone.
Simply melt beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter together, and then fill up some lip balm tubes with an eyedropper. These would make wonderfully unique stocking stuffers! (Here’s the recipe, complete with great photos, and you can buy the empty tubes online from Mountain Rose Herbs ($0.28 each, plus shipping).
13. Exercise Gizmos
Got a friend or loved one into fitness? Cassidy recommends a Heart Rate Monitor Watch ($38.89 at Amazon), Katie B. recommends a Pedometer (from $11 to $99), and runner Katie suggests gifting a month of Yoga sessions at a local studio.
14. Wi-Fi Bathroom Scale
Have a special geek in your life whose resolution is to lose weight next year? Give them this sexy bathroom scale! With an über-high tech-factor, it posts your every weight measurement sample to your own private custom webpage that tracks your body mass and shows you your progress. View your results in tabular or graph form, or on your iPhone using the included iPhone app!
Withings WiFi Scale – $149.99 at ThinkGeek
15. The Gift Certificate & Beyond
Healthy eaters will love a gift certificate from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Better yet, how about buying someone a gift membership to their local Co-Op (such as the Santa Monica Co-Op), or membership in a CSA program? (Hat tip: Angela).
Did I miss a brilliant idea? Share in the comments!