21 Gift Ideas for Healthy Cooks
Whether you’re putting together your own holiday wish list or you’ve got some cooking-lovers to buy for, it can be tricky to brainstorm ideas. Since I’m always in the kitchen, I thought it might be fun (and hopefully helpful) to put together a holiday gift guide of products I love, items I use often, and a few things on my own wish list! Without further ado (and in no particular order), here are my 21 gift ideas for healthy cooks:
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1. The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
This book is at the top of my own wish list this season. It’s a reference book, not a recipe book, but it’s a fantastic way to learn about flavor combinations and how to best use ingredients. Know you want to make something with lemon? Look up lemons among the thousands of ingredients listed and you will find ideas as to which flavors and ingredients pair well with lemon, as well as tips, substitutions and other facts. What better way to gain inspiration and confidence to experiment? An invaluable resource for cooks of all skill levels, this is a perfect gift for someone who is looking to be more creative in the kitchen.
2. A Food Scale (Martha Stewart Collection Digital Scale)
Owning a reliable food scale is an absolute must for any cook or healthy eater. It’s the best way to get an accurate measurement, and when a recipe calls for 2 ounces of Parmesan cheese, how else will you know how much to use? It’s also key for portion control when sticking to a healthy eating plan. Knowing I put 3 ounces of chicken on my salad is a lot easier than guessing. I have owned this Martha Stewart model from Macy’s for several years now and it works like a charm, but there are tons of models out there, so go ahead and choose whichever one speaks to you!
I know I’ve talked about this product before on my June post about ‘5 Things I’m Loving Right Now,” but I really can’t do enough gushing about this chopper. It is a lifesaver! I can’t think of another item that has reduced my prep time so effectively. I almost never chop or dice veggies by hand anymore, because this baby can take care of it in a fraction of the time. I can’t remember the last time onions made me cry. The chopper is also good for nuts or fruits or cooked meats and it great for making homemade salsa or pico de gallo in a flash. To sweeten the pot, it even breaks down into several pieces for easy cleaning and it’s dishwasher safe. Everyone should own one!
4. Herb Garden
What better way to ensure your herbs are fresh and flavorful than to get them directly off the plant yourself? There are a few ways to package this gift, but as a cook and a food lover, you can’t go wrong. I love the idea of gifting some especially adorable herb pots such as these ones from Williams-Sonoma and including the herb plants or seeds. If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, you can follow a tutorial like this awesome one from HGTV. There are also fun kits like this one that help you start and grow them by yourself. This is a fun gift to get creative with!
5. Weekly Menu Planner from Alaboard on etsy
Planning ahead and being prepared is key to those interested in healthy eating. Scheduling meals for the week and displaying it in the kitchen is a great way for a cook to stay on track and be prepared at a glance. I love the idea of this magnetic menu planner found on etsy because it’s attractive, simple, and you can hang it right on your fridge! I’m especially fond of the fact that it leaves space to write out a grocery list. Gift this planner with a dry erase or chalk marker and the recipient will have everything they need!
Okay, so this one is probably more of a stocking stuffer, but these are so useful I had to include them. It’s just so nice to be able to make a giant batch of shredded chicken in the slow cooker or to buy a big bulk package of lean ground beef (for example) and then portion it out and freeze it to be used in future recipes without worrying it’ll be a snowy, freezer-burned mess when you take it out. Traditional vacuum sealers can be really huge and pricey, but this little hand pump and the bags take almost no effort and do the job for cheap. Just seal the bag, pump a few times and the interior air is removed! Great for leftovers, fresh seasonal produce, meats, soups, the works.
7. Vegetable Spiral Slicer: GEFU Spirelli or Spiralizer Tri-Blade
If you’re looking to cut down on carbs or just have a fun new preparation method for veggies, one of these spiral slicers can turn your zucchini, carrots or other vegetables into long, curly, julienned “noodles,” (or zoodles as the zucchini ones are called…are the carrot ones coodles? Or caroodles? Both sound hilarious, so I’m cool with either). There are a few types of spiral slicers out there that will give you similar results depending on your needs. I have the GEFU Spirelli Slicer which is one of the small manual ones where you basically insert the vegetable by hand and twist. With the more deluxe type spiral slicers, like this best selling Spiralizer Tri-Blade, you attach the vegetable (or fruit, the spiralizer can slice more types and shapes or produce) and then turn a crank as it presses it against a blade. Who said veggies can’t be pasta?
8. A Fun Apron
You know how people say having fun new workout clothes will motivate you to exercise? It can be the same with cooking! Of course we know aprons are functional, they keep you from getting messy while cooking, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be pretty or awesome. I’m partial to frilly, feminine ones like this one from anthropologie or this one from Sur la Table, but that doesn’t mean men can’t look dapper while cooking as well. This brown suede “grilling apron” made by Outset is rugged and manly while still protecting from grease splatters or kitchen spills.
For muffins? Sure…but also for meals! Muffin tins are a great way to easily portion out main courses, and you’ll be amazed at what can be made in a muffin tin! I have a whole category of “main course muffin tin” recipes on my site, and it includes everything from Cheeseburger Hash Brown Cups to Mexi Meatloaf Muffins to Spaghetti & Meatball Cups to Buffalo Chicken Wonton Cupcakes (and much more!). It’s also my favorite way to make baked oatmeal recipes like Pumpkin Chocolate, Apple Cinnamon, or Banana Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Singles. Each standard level muffin tin cup generally holds about ½ cup of food and when your main course is muffin’d, you can easily decide how many are the right portion for you. I use these Wilton tins, and they’ve been great.
10. The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka
I’m pretty sure everyone who has been on the internet or who has ever even thought about making a healthy recipe knows about Gina’s recipe blog, Skinnytaste. For the uninitiated, however, her site is another fantastic place to find delicious, flavorful recipes you want to eat for less calories (or Weight Watchers points). Gina was doing this for years before I started my own blog and she has been a huge inspiration to me. Now, in addition to visiting her blog, you can buy her new book, which features 125 exclusive new recipes (as well as 25 favorites from her blog). The book includes light and tasty recipes for Buttermilk Oven “Fried” Chicken, Mongolian Beef and Broccoli, Kiss My (Shrimp and) Grits, Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls, Double Chocolate Chunk Walnut Cookies and so much more! This is a perfect cookbook for anyone looking for a lighter way to eat their favorites.
11. Measurement Conversion Chart
How much is a pinch? How many tablespoons in a cup? It’s nice to have an easy (and cute!) point of reference at a glance. There are several attractive conversion prints available for framing on etsy, such as this one, this one, or this one, and a lot of shops will let you customize the colors or size of the print. Run out of wall space? This comfy floor mat would make a great gift!
I’ll admit, this gift is more for healthy eaters in general than for cooks, but I really love mine so I’m including it. This is a perfect bowl in which to bring your salad to work. First of all, it’s spacious. You can fit a whole lot of lettuce and toppings in here (which is good for me, because I don’t want a dainty salad). There’s a compartment in the lid that holds your salad dressing to keep it from making your lettuce soggy, and when you’re ready to eat, you simply lift the knob on the side and the dressing with release onto your salad! Then you just shake it up to coat the contents, remove the lid and eat!
13. RSVP Measuring Cups and Spoons
It frustrates me that so many measuring cup and spoon sets come with such limited options. My husband got me the best sets off Amazon, and I love the variety of measurements included. Start with this RSVP Endurance set for more traditional measuring spoons (1/8 tsp, ¼ tsp, ½ tsp, 1 tsp and 1 tbsp) and add the companion set (1/16 tsp “a pinch”, 1/8 tsp, 2/3 tsp, 1 ½ tsp and 1 tsp). Their 7 piece measuring cup set is just as awesome with 1/8 cup, ¼ cup, 1/3 cup, ½ cup, 2/3 cup, ¾ cup and 1 cup. You deserve a wide variety of measurements and so do your friends, so these make a great gift.
14. Penzey’s Spices
Adding good quality spices is a fantastic way to make a healthy dish taste incredible. If you’re looking for attractively packaged, gift-worthy spices and seasonings, Penzey’s has got you covered. They have several pre-packaged gift boxes available in categories for bakers, grillers, salad lovers, pepper lovers, hot & spicy bold flavors, and kitchen classics. There’s something for every cook!
It’s easy to make a meal when the recipe cooks itself while you’re at work! I also love my slow cooker for prep (the easiest way to make shredded chicken) and for entertaining (keeps food warm for hours). There are tons of great lightened up slow cooker recipes out there, and I have quite a few here on my blog including Beef Stew, Thai Peanut Chicken, Meatballs & Marinara, the easiest Applesauce, Pulled Pork Tacos, Barbecue Beef and more! Hamilton Beach doesn’t make the slow cooker I have anymore, but this one is extremely close. I love mine, so I would recommend it!
16. Suction Sponge Holders
I call these “sponge savers,” because they keep your sponge clean and usable for longer. You may not think this is cooking-related, but every cook ends up with dirty pots and pans, and you don’t want to reach into the sink and pull out a gross, dirty sponge. I have this plastic one and it works great (comes in a 2-pack), but if you want something more attractive, you can get this stainless steel one for just a little bit more. The holder sticks right to the inside wall of your sink and keeps your sponge from sitting on the counter it its own filth. Makes a perfect stocking stuffer!
17. Fun Kitchen Prints from Freshline Illustration
There are a lot of cute and “punny” kitchen prints on etsy, but this series from Freshline is at the top of my holiday wish list. They’re cute and whimsical and they come in a variety of colors and sizes. I can’t wait to frame some to put in my own kitchen! My personal favorites are Be Grateful, Live Your Life with Zest, Don’t be Afraid to Take Whisks, and Love Beyond Measure, but there are so many good ones to choose from!
My husband was the one who put this on our wedding registry, but we’ve both been loving it ever since. You can make up a big batch of quinoa or brown rice with little to no effort on your part and there’s even a tray to steam vegetables as well! The cooker automatically switches to “warm” when the rice is finished cooking and it has a time delay feature, so you can even set it in the morning to have rice ready when you get home from work!
Baking donuts is a healthier way to eat the sweet treats you crave while skipping the deep fryer. I’ve had this Norpro pan for years and it works great. There are lots of baked donut recipes available, and I have several here on my blog including Carrot Cake Doughnuts, Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts, Lemon Poppy Seed Doughnuts and more!
This Misto olive oil mister is easy to use and can be a healthy way to lightly and evenly distribute a fine coat of oil on to your pans for non-stick cooking, onto vegetables for roasting, onto salads for dressing, or however you like! In addition to oil, you could also use it for vinegar or lemon juice. The Misto doesn’t use chemicals or propellants, so you’re just getting oil – no sticky coating to deal with later!
These containers are my pick for storing leftovers of all kinds. Since they’re glass, they don’t absorbs colors and smells like their plastic counterparts, and they’re oven and microwave safe, so you can re-heat your food right in the storage container. The whole set can go in the dishwasher too! We have this 20-piece set from Bed, Bath & Beyond and it has a perfect variety of shapes and sizes.
Those are my picks for healthy cooks this holiday season – I hope you got some good ideas! What’s on your list this year?