Eat Right: Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

by Laura Buxenbaum, MPH, RD, LDN

The holidays are almost here, which means it’s time to start thinking about your gift list. For a fresh, new take on the perfect present this season, consider giving the gift of health to your loved ones. Wrap up thoughtful gifts and set your family and friends on the path to wellness and vitality in the New Year.

Gourmet fare. Food is a gift that everyone can appreciate, and culinary themed baskets make a beautiful presentation. For a gift that’s both delicious and healthy, create a custom cheese basket. Cheese is a good source of protein. In fact, just one ounce of cheese such as cheddar, Colby or Swiss, has as much protein as an egg. Build a basket with cheeses from local artisans. You can also include dried fruits, whole-grain crackers and nuts so the recipient will be well-stocked with the ultimate entertainment selections.For those with a sweet tooth, choose dark chocolate. Studies show the monounsaturated fatty acids found in dark chocolate boost metabolism and stimulate the body to burn fat. Additionally, research shows dark chocolate aids in blood flow, promoting heart health. Make sure to select chocolates with at least 70 percent cocoa. During the long chilly months, dark hot chocolate mix also makes a wonderful winter companion. Paired with protein-packed milk, it’s a nutrient-rich beverage delivered in a cozy cup of comfort.

Go-to Gadgets.  According to research, when people cook most of their meals at home they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all. Gift your loved ones with go-to kitchen gadgets that make meal prep easier.

· Micro Plane Grater: This tool is a handy kitchen present that can be used to add flavor to dishes without many calories. It can zest citrus, grate ginger or garlic and even shave parmesan to top dishes. And if you’re really feeling adventurous, you can use it to dust chocolate atop a dessert or hot chocolate. The small grates allow for maximum taste without having to use much of any one ingredient.

· Blender: For those that have trouble eating the recommended fruits and veggies during the day, consider a blender. Perhaps a green smoothie or a healthy homemade soup will entice them to add more fruits and vegetables to their meals.

· Cast Iron Skillet: Make sure your loved one has this ultimate Southern kitchen staple. Not only is it non-stick, but it also fortifies the foods you are cooking in the skillet with iron, an essential nutrient for health.

Gym gear. Exercise can can help relieve stress, regulate appetite, build muscle and burn extra calories. Make sure your friends and family aren’t missing out on these important health benefits by gifting them the gear they need.   

Help them stay in shape at home by wrapping up free weights, strength bands, a yoga mat or a pedometer. Consider providing them with an online membership for a workout program.

For gym-goers, paid-for memberships and class passes are another great option. Consider some new workout gear to help them look great while working out. Accessories such as reusable water bottles, headphones and gym bags may also help motivate them not to skip exercise.

Whether you are shopping for your favorite foodie, the conscientious cook or the exercise enthusiast, these gift ideas will help them get a jumpstart on their New Year’s resolutions. For more healthy holiday gift ideas, as well as nourishing recipes to prepare this holiday season, visit foodandnutrition.org.

Laura Buxenbaum, MPH, RD, LDN is the Assistant Director of Food and Nutrition Outreach for The Dairy Alliance. She received her Master of Public Health at UNC Chapel Hill and has been working in dietetics for over 15 years. She can be reached at lbuxenbaum@thedairyalliance.com.