It was a pretty good list:
This week I received a pre-holiday email from MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.
It said: "Share the Health: M.D. Anderson's Holiday Gift Guide - This holiday season, experts at M.D. Anderson encourage shoppers to purchase gifts that offer health benefits for recipients."
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- Gym membership - they recommend 30 minutes a day to lower the chance of getting cancer
- Active gear for kids - they say kids need 60 minutes a day of activity to lower their risk of getting cancer as adults
- Dark chocolate - look for at least 65% cacao - and boxes with small serving sizes--all you need is 1 ounce a day to get a daily shot of delicious antioxidants
- Green tea sampler - studies show that green tea antioxidants protect against cancer by stopping cancer cells from growing.
- Fruit of the month club - tons of antioxidants and plant chemicals that help the body fight cancer.
- Steamer - cook vegetables without oil or butter and eliminate extra fat and calories, and encourage the likelihood of getting 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Sun protective clothing - look for UPF clothing for an easy & reliable way to get sun protection that lasts through many washes - for runners, gardeners, or anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors
But I got to thinking. I've got plenty of good gift suggestions to add to this list.
Great gifts of health that I've received. Great gifts of health that I've given to others. Great gifts of health that I've bought for myself. So here goes.
In no particular order:
- Vitamix 5200 - I've written about this so much, I'm even boring myself--but there is no denying that it's one of the best ways you can ensure that you eat 7-9 fruits & veggies a day. We use it everyday to make green smoothies, to instantly blend vegetable soups, to make humus, fruit sorbet, or even Tal Ronnen's cashew cream. Honestly, you can't compare its power to a blender's. And clean-up is a breeze! We've given Vitamixes to each of our kids for a 1-gift-fits-all Chanukah, Birthday, & Anniversary/Apartment-warming present. It's a "BIG" gift--as in a $400-$450 gift!--but I can't think of any better "gift of health" for someone you love! To read more, click here, here, here. Told you I can run off the mouth on this!
- Exercise heart rate monitor - My husband gave me my first Polar F6 Heart Rate monitor 3 years ago. Now they have a women's model that fits my skinny wrist better. This is one of the best gifts I've ever gotten. Honestly, I don't like to exercise without it. It lets me know if I'm working hard enough--or too hard. It keeps me in aerobic range, counts the calories I've burned, and keeps track of my weekly workouts. It's just plain motivating, and you can set it up to reflect your age, weight, sex, and your exercise abilities. Retail $119, but you can probably find it for $100. Don't skimp--buy Polar. To read more click here and here.
- IPOD Nano - I
love my 2 year old Nano, but the newest version rocks. Not only can
you download 8GB of music, audiobooks or podcasts, you can shoot and store 8
hours of beautiful video. If that weren't enough--it now has an FM radio that lets you pause it
midway, and then return to listen to up to 15 minutes of what you missed. How is a Nano a gift of health? It makes solitary exercise fun and great music is motivating. Not to mention that music can be used as medication--violins instead of Vicodin. Check out this NPR story. Click here. (thanks for the tip, Les) Retail: $149, but they're cheaper at Costco. Click here and here to learn more.
- Calphalon One Infused Anodized 7-Quart Sauteuse with Lid - This is one of the best gifts I-never-knew-how-much-I-needed-it-until-I-got-it! It's a beautiful 7 quart, 15" wide, 3" deep lidded pan that you can use on the stovetop, in the oven, or under the broiler. It's perfect for dinner-sized stir-fries, sauteing vegetables, making any one pot veggie concoction, and it works for just about any dinner recipe I'm making. My husband just made the best potato latkes, ever, in this pan. It's large enough to hold all the ingredients without spilling over the sides! And it's safe with metal utensils, too. Cost is about $99. Click here for more info.
- Hot-Air Popcorn Popper - This is so 70's, but I recently bought one for $20 (with a coupon) at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. It has completely satisfied our need for a salty crunchy evening snack. Thanks go to my husband, who has perfected a "genius" method of adding flavor to this fat-free snack. Here's the deal: Use a giant bowl with a lid, and as the popcorn starts filling the bowl, spray it with about 4 or 5 sprays of olive or canola oil. When finished give a few good shakes of popcorn salt--which is super-fine & sticks to the popcorn. Cover the bowl, and give it a good shake. You eliminate all the chemicals found in microwave popcorn--and it's done in 1/2 the time. We pop 1/2 cup of kernels at a time--but I'm thinking that 1/4 cup would probably work better if your bowl isn't gigundo! Click here for more info.
- Phillips Sonicare Flexcare 2 Handle Toothbrush All-in-one Sanitizing Charging and Storing Unit - OK, I admit it, who wants to get a toothbrush for a gift? But, once you use this toothbrush, you'll understand its value in keeping your teeth--and more importantly--your gums in tip-top shape. There is no way can you manually brush your teeth as well or as long as the oscillating Sonicare can. Set it to Max mode, and it goes for 3 very long minutes. The best part: it comes with a built-in ultra-violet light sanitizer that kills up to 99% of E. Coli & streptococcus Mutans, not to mention assorted cold viruses. If you store your toothbrush in the bathroom--and your toilet lid is up--a closed sanitizer is a plus! It also includes a handy travel charger & case--perfect for when you leave town. Geeky, yes! But it's healthy. I'm getting all A's on my dental report card since using the Sonicare. Cost is about $140 with a Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupon. Click here for more info.
- Olive Tap Flavored Vinegars - This Chicago-based company makes fabulous specialty flavored olive oils and vinegars. Since I try hard to cut back on oil, I'm recommending their vinegars. I discovered this company at my hospital's weekly Farmer's Market. Their booth seems to have the longest line. What do you do with flavored vinegars? They are fantastic on salads, pasta, or vegetable dishes with their deep & rich taste. They are thick and not acidy tasting. A sample of their 22 flavors: Sicilian Lemon Balsamic, Tangerine Balsamic, Cinnamon Pear Balsamic. Add a dash of one of their flavored olive oils, too. Cost: $14.50 a bottle. click here for all 22 specialty vinegars.
- Gourmet Cocoa Powders for Hot Chocolate - Cocoa
is loaded with healthy flavanoids that will lower inflammation, blood
pressure, and improve arterial function--with the added plus that it's
fat-free. My all-time favorites are: Scharffen Berger Natural Cocoa
Powder (click here) and Ghiradelli Chocolate All Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Click here)
Both cocoas are made without alkaki--meaning they are
non-dutched--which is a good thing--because it preserves the
phytochemicals. Hot Chocolate is great evening snack, and if you don't want cow's milk, make it with soy, hazelnut, or almond milk. Cost: $5.95-$9.95
- Games for your brain, and for belly laughs. Bananagrams. I learned about this game from my daughter-in-law who's a word game maven. This one won the TOTY 2009 Best Game award. It's a fast and fun word game, that will get you thinking in new ways--and it exercises your brain. It's actually recommended for use as a brain workout. Kids love it. Adults love it. As far as I'm concerned, it beats Scrabble hands down. Cost: about $15.00 Click here to learn more. Last Word. This is a fast fun easy-to-learn game, that works as well for 2 players as it does for 8. I've played it with just my husband. I've played it with a group--and we had a blast! It's a word game that's not intimidating--or will make anyone feel left out. Anyone can win--because when the random timer goes off--whoever said the "Last Word" wins. Even the usual non-game players in my family enjoyed this one. Cost: about $20.00. Click here to learn more.
- My Favorite Vegan/Vegetarian Cookbooks
- The Conscious Cook: Delicious MEATLESS recipes that will CHANGE the WAY you EAT. by Tal Ronnen. So far everything I've made from this cookbook has been delicious. But, definitely cut the fat in half! "The Conscious Cook shows readers that avoiding the health risks and ethical dilemmas of eating meat and dairy does not mean sacrificing taste and appetite. This is not a cookbook of sprouts and tofu burgers, but of mouth-watering, hearty meals that keep the protein at the center of your plate." Read my review here.
- Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source. With more than 200 recipes for a healthy and sustainable you. by Terry Walters. From NPR's Top 10 Cookbooks for 2009: "Recent
years have seen more and more vegan cookbooks hitting the mainstream,
and this one bristles with crossover charisma. Sure, there are a few
ingredients your average omnivore will never buy — the ume plum
vinegar, the agar powder, to name two — but in a year when there was no
other significant vegetable book, Clean Food excels: You could call it a graduate course in meatlessness." Arranged
by season, focusing on what's available seasonally--This winter I'm ready to try Spicy
Coconut Pumpkin Soup and Goodness Soup--a pumped-up version of
mushroom barley soup with hulled barley, lentils & beans. Lots of new-to-me background
information on the healthiest of ingredients, and the best ways to cook beans
and grains. Walters explains why grains can be difficult to digest--and how to fix that problem by soaking them and cooking them with a little kombu--a sea vegetable.
- Raw: the UNcook Book. New Vegetarian Food for Life. I recently received this book as a gift and it's unlike any cookbook I have--of course--it's raw! Juliano has a famous San Francisco restaurant--and having recently sampled some raw dishes, I'm ready to give it a whirl. It's definitely going to be a cooking adventure. Juliano is a big fan of sprouting seeds for their superior nutritional value (and after writing about broccoli sprouts--I'm ready to give it a try), and dehydrating food. Not to worry--a low oven (150 degrees) can substitute for a dehydrator. Those who have tried his recipes are raving. Read more here.
- Any Jeanne Lemlin cookbook. Lemlin's books are my go-to source for never-fail-always-delicious soups, salads, and main dishes. They're vegetarian, so if you are eating vegan, just substitute ingredients. My favorites are: Simple Vegetarian Pleasures. Quick Vegetarian Pleasures. Vegetarian Classics. They are all still in print. Click here to read more
11. Slow-cooker/crockpot - This is my new favorite appliance for healthy food prep. It's fantastic for making overnight rib-sticking-healthy steel cut oatmeal. Mix up the ingredients before you go to sleep, and wake up to a kitchen filled with the cinnamon nutmeg scent of delicious oatmeal. You can make enough for 2-6 servings, and refrigerate the rest for easy-peasy-just-take-it-to-work-and-heat-it-up-oatmeal. And don't forget that crockpots make it so easy to cook your own beans, soups, and chilis. No more worries about BPA-lined cans. Cost: About $15.00 for a 3 quart cooker. Click here for my recipe for overnight fruited steel-cut oatmeal. Click here for the BPA in cans report.
12. A book or CD about meditation - I asked my husband what he would add to the list and he said, "Definitely a book or CD to learn meditation." Want something easy, straightforward, and non-sectarian? Try The 8 Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind--Change Your Life. by Victor Davich. for info on the book or guided meditation CD click here.I know you all have some great suggestions to add to the list. Please let me know what would be on your favorite healthy gift list!