Forget the electronics, the toys and the clothes. When it comes to holiday gifts, this Julia Child wannabe wants kitchen gadgets. I've compiled a list of my top 10 culinary finds this holiday season. I hope these gift suggestions will be appealing for people who like to cook and eat healthfully. Maybe some of my loved ones will read this (hint, hint) and get some ideas of their own.
Calphalon Silicone Baking Liners
I love to bake cupcakes because they're portion controlled. I don't love scrubbing out the cupcake tins. These silicone baking liners eliminate the need for paper liners (Mother Earth thanks you!) and make clean up a snap. The nonstick surface wipes clean quite easily, and the liners can be used in the oven or microwave. Buy these for the baker in your life.
George Foreman 360 Removable 5 Plate Grills
In college, my mini George Foreman grill was a life-saver for my roommates and me. We used it to grill chicken, make quesadillas and even toast bagels (we didn't have a toaster!). It was a great, functional appliance. Now, good old George has a bigger, better grill. The 360 grill is a deep-dish pizza oven, quesadilla press, omelet maker, and pancake griddle all in one! And, even better: It still drains off all the grease and oil from your favorite meat. Pick up one of these for the grillmaster in your house. Bonus: This is big enough to cook for the whole family.
Oil Jar with Silicone Brush
I love cooking with heart-healthy and flavorful olive oil, but sometimes it can be tricky to coat your pans with a thin layer of stuff. This set helps solve that problem. With a glass jar that keeps the oil covered between uses and a silicone brush for easy cleanup, this oil jar allows you to easily use a small amount of oil, marinade or sauce. (You would need to exercise care if you use this on raw meat, but other than that, this would be a great gift.) This would be a great companion gift to that George Foreman grill.
I love oil-and-vinegar dressings. You can dress them up so many different ways. I often use flavored vinegars (tarragon, raspberry l balsamic or champagne are some of my favorites) or herb-infused oils (garlic, rosemary or chili are good) to spice up my dressings. However, vinaigrettes can be a bit high in calories, and it's easy to ruin a salad by drowning it in dressing. The commercial salad dressings in spray bottles offer built in portion control, but I like to make my own. This mister would allow me to be creative while controlling my portions. Salad lovers would be thrilled to get this handy gadget.
The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life
$28 (currently less than $18 on Amazon)
Ellie Krieger is one of my favorite Food Network chefs. She's a dietitian as well as a foodie, so her recipes are delicious and healthy. She serves simple, light food that's full of fresh ingredients. Her book is perfectly named: "The Food You Crave" is packed with recipes that will have you eating your vegetables and asking for seconds. She has a "Usually-Sometimes-Rarely" policy when it comes to food, so nothing is off limits. Recipes include Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, Buffalo Chicken Salad, Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries, and Fettuccine with Creamy Red Pepper Sauce. I'm hungry just thinking of her recipes! Get this for anyone who's trying to slim down recipes and eat healthier.
Our waistlines have grown along with our dinner plates. Why not get rid of those monstrous plates and replace them with properly sized ones? Fiesta ware is cheerful and upbeat. Any food eaten from this plate will be instantly more appealing. They come in almost all shades of the rainbow, but I liked this bright, cool turquoise. Remember to fill half of those plates with vegetables and fruit, a quarter with protein and the remaining quarter with whole grains or starches.
On sale for $11.90
These magnets are a great reminder for those of us who have trouble staying out of the fridge after dinner. With a magnet for 50 of the most common healthy foods, you'll quickly learn portion sizes and nutrition info. They're color coded by food group, which is another cool feature. I bought these for my mom last year, and now I want some for myself. They'd be a constant reminder to eat healthy food and not reach for the ice cream in the back of the freezer.
SparkPeople Insulated Lunch Cooler
If you're going to be packing a healthy lunch anyway, why not tote it in a SparkPeople lunch bag? That way, you can spread the spark and keep your lunch cool at the same time. This is perfect for the SparkPerson in your family! You can brown bag it in style with this lunch cooler!
Deluxe Lunch Chiller
With this and your SparkPeople lunch bag, you'll have no excuse for not having healthy lunches and snacks on hand. The large bottom compartment can hold a sandwich, salad or entree. The removable one cup Smart Portion Chill Container allows you to take a side dish with you that's properly portioned. Even better: There's a storage section for silverware and a napkin and an ice ring that keeps everything cool until lunch time.
For me, cooking is second nature. I can open up the fridge, pull out a hodge-podge of ingredients, and have a healthy dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. For others, cooking might as well be calculus. We all have our strengths, so why not share yours with someone else? If you're a good cook, offer a gift of experience and share a cooking lesson with a friend or loved one. Not a cook? Check your local newspaper, call a nearby community college (or community center) or ask at your favorite grocery store about affordable cooking classes in your area.
See anything you like? Have a suggestion? Leave your gift ideas and wish lists in the comments below.
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