Give Healthful Food Gifts

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Many people enjoy giving (and receiving) food gifts. They don’t end up as clutter and offer a treat the recipient might not otherwise indulge in. Giving food also bears a few caveats, however. It helps to know the preferences of the recipient and any dietary restrictions, both medical and self-imposed. Consider these healthful suggestions. We interviewed two local experts. Here are their suggestions

Suggestions by Kelly Springer, registered dietitian and owner of Kelly’s Choice in Skaneateles

For people trying to maintain a healthful weight

“Oranges are a traditional holiday gift and are high in vitamin C to boost immunity. Nuts are a fantastic gift, as they have fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and minerals. Manuka honey is a powerful support for inflammation and it has antibacterial properties. It’s honey made from nectar of the manuka plant in Australia and New Zealand. It’s expensive, so someone might not buy it for themselves.”

“Give matcha tea. Tea is always a nice gift and this one is right on trend. While very popular at the moment, there are amazing health benefits associated with this Japanese tea. Packed with antioxidants, it boosts metabolism and burns calories, detoxifies effectively and naturally, and has been shown to increase energy levels and endurance.”

For children

“Kind Bars and organic fruit strips without added sugar are good for kids.”

“Granola is easy to make and easy for kids to eat as a snack or on the go. Granola is a great source of fiber and many important vitamins and minerals necessary for proper growth and development, like sodium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and iron, vitamins C and E. Just make sure it’s made with natural sugars and there is no added sugar.”

For diabetics

“They might like something fun like strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. They are delicious. Coffee and tea are also fantastic. You can get specialized with a tea ball so they can add herbs. Put a fun mug with it.”

For seniors

“Almonds or nuts flavored with natural flavoring such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cumin are important for the older adult as they are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a reduced risk of cogitative decline, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Bone broth has so many benefits: joint health, improves bone density, boosts immunity, high protein and it’s hydrating. All you have to do it warm it up, so it’s easy to prepare for the older adult.”

College student

“They might like something fun like strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. They are delicious. Coffee and tea are also fantastic. You can get specialized with a tea ball so they can add herbs. Put a fun mug with it.”

Suggestions by Ashley Russo-Leone, registered dietitian, board member with the Central New York Dietetics Association Suggestions by Julie Mellen, registered dietitian and outpatient dietitian and nutrition counselor at University Health Care Center

For people trying to maintain a healthful weight

“Give a spice basket with different spices, veggie/herb garden basket, coffee/tea, homemade granola, infused olive oil, homemade jam, canned vegetables or homemade sauces. Fruit baskets are always great or a popcorn basket with seasonings. Blend popcorn salt with chili powder or other seasonings.”

For children

“Cocoa mix with a mug is nice. You can make the mix yourself. Personalizing the gift is always a nice thing, like personalized hot chocolate with different mix-ins.”

For diabetics

“Salsa, as a tomato-based dip, it is very, very low in carbohydrate with minimal to no impact on blood sugar levels. Generally speaking, fresh salsa is made up of tomato, a great source of carotenoids and vitamin C; onion, which contains polyphenols; and bell peppers, that have vitamins C, E and B6 and folate. Avoid the generic jarred salsa off the grocery store shelves which will generally be packed with salt and preservatives and look for a more specialty salsa, or even homemade. Not only can a good quality olive oil be an attractive and classy gift, there are many health benefits that it provides: minimal effect on insulin levels and blood sugar control, is a ‘good fat’ cooking substitute for butter or lard and has been shown to lower risk of heart disease. For those who are in the pre-diabetes category, studies have shown that including olive oil in your diet regularly, while following a Mediterranean style diet, reduced the risk of T2 diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low-fat diet.”

For seniors

“Give out-of-season fruit, homemade muffins or something like that or a meal itself. Sparkling cider would be a nice option. Or cold-brew coffee. There are so many varieties of teas. You could do loose tea and a tea ball and mugs. Mason jars recipes in a jar, like baked goods in a jar or soup in a jar. Make Spanish soup, or Asian soup to mix it up. It’s such a nice thing to just add some liquid and it’s good to go. Or make hot chocolate in a jar.”

College student

“Choose dark chocolate that contains 50 to 90 percent cocoa solids. Dark chocolate contains high levels of cocoa flavanols, which have been shown to help lower blood pressure and improve cognition important for all that studying. The higher the percentage of cocoa solids, the higher the caffeine content, also important for those late night cramming sessions.”

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