Health & Spirit

Quinn on Nutrition: Practical, meaningful gift ideas

Barbara Quinn, The Monterey County Herald on

Published in Nutrition

Even my young grandkids know it's Christmas shopping season. Seems every store or television channel -- especially the ones designated for kiddos -- pops up items that encourages them say, "I want that!"

My preference is for gifts that nourish the practical side and are meaningful as well. Here are some ideas that may help serve those purposes:

Shop local first. I've found many of the freshest and most unique gifts close to home. And every purchase in our small town gives a gift back to local merchants and neighbors.

Give gifts that give life. Organizations like Heifer International gratefully accept donations in the name of your special someone. Just $20 buys a flock of chickens for a family in need of life-sustaining nutrition. (Each hen can lay 200 protein-packed eggs a year.) $60 buys a fruit or nut tree to feed a family for years to come.

Go retro. For tea drinkers on your list, Russell Hobbs -- a European brand that recently launched in the United States -- features a cute 1.7 liter (about 7 cups) electric kettle for boiling water fast. Retro design -- meaning it looks very familiar from my recent past -- features a gauge that shows the temperature of your water. Comes in a variety of colors and looks really cute on a kitchen counter. Available on

Personalize and give back at the same time. Wine drinkers will appreciate a personalized selection from Josh Cellars ( Through the holiday season, this winery will donate $1 from each bottle and/or label purchased to Operation Gratitude, a program that sends care packages to first responders, veterans and U.S. service men and women and their families.

Stuff stockings with cook-friendly items. Your favorite home chefs and gadget guys will appreciate these "unitaskers" from that can pit, slice and scoop avocados, hull strawberries and strip off corn kernels. They are easy to use, colorful and don't take up much room in kitchen drawers.


Give hope. For less than $15, international relief organization, Samaritan's Purse can provid hot meals for a child or feed a hungry baby for a week. It's a great way to honor someone on your gift list who doesn't really want another tie or sweater.

Homemade works, too. My most treasured gifts are those baked, assembled or otherwise created by those I love. May we teach our kids to want that, too.

(Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She is the author of "Quinn-Essential Nutrition" (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to

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