(I first published this in November 2016 and again last year. I’ve just added six new gift ideas and updated the rest with current links and prices. Happy shopping!)
Christmas carols are playing in the stores and ads everywhere. We can’t deny it any longer. It’s time to shop. Now’s our chance to take advantage of Black Friday deals and/or order online, so we can relax all December long. (Haha, just kidding. No one relaxes in December, but that’s my fantasy.)
So to help you get started, here are 18 of my favourite kitchen tools, toys, and other gift ideas, from small and practical to big splurges. Not sponsored, by the way, just my opinion. I’ve used and loved all of these products. Cooking is central for heart-healthy eating, so let’s make it easier and enjoyable for those we love.
Note: Prices are in Canadian dollars and are approximate, based on what I see today in the link I’m sharing, just to give you an idea.
- Water bottle carrier ($14) — This might not seem that exciting, but to a parent with water bottles scattered chaotically about the kitchen, it’s a godsend. 16 bottles seemed excessive when we bought ours, but it’s almost always full, tucked neatly in a cupboard near the sink. The bottles are ready to go whenever someone is leaving the house and wants water, tea, coffee, or a smoothie to go.
- Starbucks insulated stainless steel travel mug ($34, not sold online) — While we’re on the topic of reusable beverage containers… We’ve bought several mugs each from Starbucks, Davids Tea, and Contigo. The Starbucks mugs beat them all for temperature maintenance and spill resistance. I rarely leave the house without one filled with coffee or tea and another with carbonated water and ice.
- Chocolate tasting and tour ($40 each) — The heart health benefits of chocolate might be a bit exaggerated, but a fun evening out, mindfully enjoying fine chocolate can absolutely fit into a heart-healthy lifestyle. I did the “Chocolate Therapy” at Calgary chocolate maker Choklat last month after picking up tickets at a silent auction. Owner Brad Churchill is a master storyteller, inspiring entrepreneur, and he knows a thing or two about chocolate too.
- Aeropress coffee and espresso maker ($40) — My husband and I decided to start drinking coffee a few years ago and started with this, after seeing it on physician Yoni Freedhoff’s blog. Reportedly it makes the “world’s best cup of coffee,” although I admit I’m not a yet coffee aficionado. I just like it because you can a fresh cup with minimal fuss. Perhaps someone in your life would like a good coffee at work without dedicating a chunk of their paycheque?
- Fancy dancy nuts ($varies) — Take the classic heart-healthy snack up a notch. You can make spiced nuts or pick something up at Costco, but for a special treat, check out nuts.com. Last year friends surprised us with a box of their goodies and we loved it. American company, but free shipping to Canada for orders over $79.
- Gift cards that let them outsource shopping or cooking. How about helping your loved ones out with a healthy, ready-to-eat meal or two? A couple of years ago I reviewed a few different ways to outsource your cooking, and my favourite for a gift would be Our Daily Brett. They only have one location, in Bankview, but I’ve also tried (but not reviewed) Made Foods, which has numerous locations in Calgary, and has similar high end, quality food. Or you could give a Spud gift card, so they can order groceries during a hectic week.
Reliable favourites I’ve recommended before
- Nice tea or coffee ($ varies) — If you want to give something to an office, this is a creative alternative to chocolates or cookies. A client gave me a tin of this “Joy” tea a few years ago. Greatly appreciated! Coffee shop gift cards are always welcome too.
- Stainless steel bowls ($27 for a set of 5) – I have three of these (8″, 11″ and 13″) from Ikea, and one gets used pretty much every day. I switched the link to this set from Amazon because they’re flat-bottomed, which only one of mine is, and I prefer it. And they have lids. Either way, stainless steel bowls lightweight so easy to grab, use, and clean. I like lots of room when tossing a salad or mixing batter, so the biggest is my favourite, if you’re only buying one.
- Apple slicer – $17 – I seriously don’t know why anyone cuts apples with a knife. This is so easy! Ours gets used several times a week. I like it because it makes 16 thin slices, which is perfect for throwing together an apple crisp or a quick snack.
- Spilling the Beans – Cooking And Baking With Beans Everyday – ($21) – If you’re like so many of my clients, you want to cook with more lentils and beans, but beyond chili and soup, you’re not really sure what to do with them. I recommend this cookbook often. It’s co-authored by a local food guru, Julie Van Rosendaal, and I have yet to make anything in it that’s not easy and delicious. If you consider yourself more of a meat and potatoes person, you’ll find this very accessible. For a sampling of the recipes, head to her website and scroll down to “Beans”.
- Nourish- Whole Food Recipes Featuring Seeds, Nuts and Beans ($27) – This is another cookbook gem for those trying to get more beans, as well as nuts and seeds. It’s co-written by a dietitian (yay!) and has even more heart-healthy and vegetarian dishes than Spilling the Beans. I recommend it for those already eating pretty well and ready to go to the next level.
- Swissmar peelers ($24) – I didn’t think these were anything special until we went to a friend’s cabin and used her dull, clunky peeler. Life is too short for that! I’ve had these for several years and they’re still razor-sharp. We use the straight one for hard vegetables like carrots. The serrated one does soft-skinned fruit like kiwis and mango, and the julienne peeler makes long thin strips, which makes veggies pretty for salads, nice if you don’t have a spiralizer.
- “Fit & Fresh Men’s Sporty” Insulated Lunch Bag ($27) – Despite the silly name, we still like this better than any of the cheap insulated bags we’ve picked up at the grocery store. It velcros shut and then rolls and snaps, making it easy to carry. And who doesn’t want to be fit and fresh?
- Stainless steel measuring cups and spoons – I’ve had a set of stainless steel measuring cups ($45) from Williams-Sonoma for almost 20 years and they still look and feel great. The spoons I use ($18), from Lee Valley, are narrow, so they can fit into any spice jar. And they have a 1/8 teaspoon measure, which is useful for a small amount of salt. Either way, a nice step up from plastic.
- Yumboxes lunch containers ($42) — They’re pricey but well-made, so we just bought one set and still use them every day. Routine = survival, right? You can put fruit and veggies right alongside the main dish, which ups the chances that your little one will actually have a nibble.
- Spiralizer ($43) – A fun way to enjoy more veggies, from zucchini noodles to pretty carrots and beets for salads. Zucchini noodles actually taste pretty good on their own, sautéed lightly in olive oil, or you can throw them in the pot with regular spaghetti for the last couple of minutes.
- Matching food storage containers ($ varies). We use the Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid containers, but I don’t think it matters, as long as they match! Then they nest for easy storage, finding a lid is a cinch, and they stack nicely in the fridge or freezer. We saved our old mismatched containers and use them for storing lego, craft supplies, and other odds and ends.
- SodaStream ($130) – If you like carbonated water, you must have a SodaStream. And if you’re still drinking pop, juice, or other sugary drinks because water doesn’t quite do it, maybe this will help you switch. It saves you having to buy and recycle bottles, but there is an ongoing cost, to replace the CO2 carbonator. We drink 2-3 cups a day and replace it about every 3 months, for about $20. The one in this picture died last year and I bought a replacement the next day. Went for the lowest-priced model I found and it works just fine.
Hopefully these ideas give you some inspiration to get your holiday shopping started and help a loved one enjoy cooking even more. Happy shopping!
psst…Have my food ideas, recipes, and nutrition advice been helpful? Yay! That’s awesome! So, the thing is…I don’t do any sponsored posts or take ads, so I can bring you practical tips and insights that are 100% independent and unbiased.
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