Holiday Gift Ideas For the Health Conscious

by | Dec 8, 2008

Know anyone who is trying build healthy habits? Want to give yourself a leg up on your New Year’s resolution? Here are some simple gift ideas for anyone wanting to embrace a healthy lifestyle:

  1. Eat, Drink and Be Healthy, by Walter Willett. This is my favorite nutrition book. Dr. Willett, a physician and Harvard nutrition scientist, presents a comprehensive guide explaining the basics of nutrition science and why few things are as important as what you choose to eat. His recommendations are based on solid science, but everything is explained in clear, simple language and is easy for anyone to understand. This book will change the way you think about food and nutrition.
  2. Subscription to Cooks Illustrated magazine. It is almost impossible to have a healthy diet if you are eating out for most of your meals. Cooking at home can be a pleasure, but to many people it is a source of fear and anxiety. Cooks Illustrated is a resource that demystifies cooking and makes it virtually idiot proof. Their staff tests recipes over and over in “America’s Test Kitchen” so you don’t have to. The result is the easiest, most reliable method for making almost any meal.A bonus of subscribing is that they also offer product and appliance reviews. I often find myself browsing their website with my online subscription, but they also have a beautiful print magazine if you prefer to peruse recipes on the go. Because of Cooks Illustrated I feel like I can cook just about anything I set my mind to, even things I have never tasted before. I couldn’t live without my Cooks!
  3. Braun Hand Blender. This is the magic kitchen appliance. If you or someone you know is not the type to buy every single piece of fancy kitchen equipment, this is the perfect item. Its many attachments make it so you have a blender, food processor and mixer all in the palm of your hand. Everything you need rolled into one tiny device!
  4. CSA membership. Busy people have trouble finding the time to buy fresh fruits and vegetables every week. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture brings fresh, seasonal produce to you. The idea behind a CSA is that you subscribe to a farm or collection of farms and pay a certain set price (varies by farm) for a box of their goods. For your fee you will be provided with a week or two worth of fruits and vegetables of the season. All CSAs are a little different, so you need to find ones in your area and contact them to work out the details. Most deliver to your house or a nearby pick up point and allow some filtering for your particular food preferences. For the truly dedicated, there are also meat and dairy CSAs.
  5. In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. Michael Pollan is a journalist and UC Berkeley professor who has spent the past several years figuring out the best way to eat in the Western world. This book distills everything he found, and his advice is surprisingly simple: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. In Defense of Food is a quick, easy read that is both entertaining and filled with valuable information.
  6. Wii Fit. I’m not sure if a video game can really be exercise, but it sure beats sitting on your butt watching T.V. I cannot deny that on cold evenings when I have worked too long at home to squeeze in a workout I have resorted to my Wii to get the blood pumping. Wiis are not easy to acquire (I have had success with Wii Alerts), but if you can get your hands on one they are easily worth the money.
  7. Pressure cooker. You probably do not eat enough legumes. People have weird ideas about beans and assume they are accompanied by foul smells, but home-cooked beans are an entirely different species. A pressure cooker can make it so you have a week’s supply of your favorite beans in under half an hour. What’s not to love?
  8. Full body massage. The latest research suggests that stress may be as bad for you as red meat. Luckily getting rid of stress can be one of the best experiences of your life. Everyone loves a trip to the day spa. A full body massage is the perfect gift for that person who has everything.
  9. Lunch box. Eating out for lunch every single day is not an option if you want to be healthy. But that does not mean you have to be a nerd. REI makes a great, affordable lunch cooler that is both stylish and functional. Want more of a selection? Browse the offerings at through the link on the sidebar.
  10. Email subscription to Summer Tomato. It’s free and comes with a 25-page healthy eating guide! Get to know what fruits and vegetables are in season, learn about the latest nutrition research and discover simple and delicious recipes for health straight from my brain to yours. This is the ultimate gift for the ultimate connoisseur! (OK, I admit this is kind of a cheap gift. I recommend it, but you should probably get one of those real gifts I mentioned too 😉

Good luck shopping and happy holidays!

Check out my 2009 healthy gift ideas

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14 Responses to “Holiday Gift Ideas For the Health Conscious”

  1. Susan says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.Susan

  2. Michelle says:

    You pretty much wrote out my Christmas wish list!

  3. MB says:

    Great ideas. Thanks 🙂

  4. Karin says:

    So many options! I kind of want them all….!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Great list! Its hard to find a good recommendation list these days without any direct personal bias….

  6. Acai Berry says:

    well you just wrote my own christmas wish list.

  7. Doug says:

    This is unrelated, but safety is always important, so I thought I’d pass along this safety tip for your readers:DON’T PREPARE YOUR FOOD WHILE IN BED.That may sound obvious, but:According to the Chicago Tribune’s Full-Court Press blog, Bulls rookie Derrick Rose missed Monday’s practice after he needed 10 stitches to close a gash suffered at home while — you’re not going to believe this one — slicing an apple in bed. Amazing.”It was a silly incident,” Rose said. “I was cutting up some food and I laid on a knife getting lazy in bed. I went to go get a bottle of water, came back, forgot the knife was there, then sat down and sliced my arm.”source:,127593Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

  8. Healthyliving says:

    I want the Wii. It looks so cool, and just by merely having it I would be sooooo cool! My plan is to get one for the kids for christmas, then play while they’re at school- is that wrong to do?

  9. Darya Pino says:

    Glad you like the list everyone. Just FYI, I added the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market cookbook to my sidebar. It would also be a fantastic gift for anyone looking to cook using seasonal produce.

  10. maggafers says:

    darya, do you have a specific CSA that you like best? i’m adding that to my wish list, and am a bit overwhelmed with choices!thank you!

  11. Darya Pino says:

    @maggafers:The best CSA for you depends entirely upon where you live. If you are in the Bay Area, this website can help you decide: do not subscribe to one myself (it is kind of my business to get my butt down to the farmers market every weekend), but I have heard good things about Eatwell, Terrafirma and FarmFreshToYou. Fullbelly is good for the East Bay.I recommend looking at the details of each CSA in your area and I bet that will narrow your choices a lot. For instance, if you want it delievered to your house and don’t want to pick it up there are only a couple options. Many of them have waiting lists too.Please keep us posted on which you decide to go with and how you like it. I am dying for some firsthand CSA reviews!

  12. maggafers says:

    i think i’m going with terra firma! i live in portrero hill and the pick up locations are super convenient for me. plus one of my besties uses and recommends them. i’ll let you know what i think once i start!(darya, i think we have a mutual friend. you know jaemi swope?)

  13. Darya Pino says:

    @maggafersI totally know Jaemi! She’s a great cook!! Is this random?I am excited to hear how you like Terra Firma. I work at UCSF Mission Bay right near you 🙂

  14. sapna says:

    Wow all the gift ideas are superb. thanks for sharing. it helps me a lot.

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