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 Amanda Ronzo, registered dietitian with Nutrition Care of Rochester in Pittsford.

For people trying to maintain a healthful weight

“Give an herbal tea basket with a variety of loose leaf teas and a diffuser. Add some local honey or variety of grass-fed organic jerky or almond butter. Or give a nice water bottle like the Hydro Flask. It keeps your water extremely cold for 24 hours. They’re dishwasher safe.”

For children

“Get a Hydro Flask for kids. Or popcorn kernels and a book about popcorn. That was one of my favorite gifts when I was in first grade. There’s always fruit leather, LÄRABARs, or squeeze pouches of fruit that have no sugar added. Keep the ingredient list short and be mindful of added colors, sugars and portion sizes. If you’ll give something sweet, pick something in a single serve package, like a chocolate square as opposed to a whole chocolate bar.”

For diabetics

“Choose a variety of nuts and dark chocolate or coffee, tea and cheese. I would make note not to pick anything labeled ‘sugar free’ because it’s not carbohydrate free and diabetics have to watch their carbohydrates.”

For seniors

“If you go with nuts, consider dental issues and pick softer nuts. Flavored popcorn is good, as it adds fiber to the diet. Or a meal delivery service, so it’s ready to go. Look for items with  an easy-to-open package. If they have dementia, sweet flavors are the last to go. So they may enjoy some sweet treats or sparkling grape juice. Getting enough fluids is a big deal for older adults. Consider a fresh fruit basket, but keep it small so it doesn’t go bad. They have added fiber, potassium, vitamin C, antioxidants and phytonutrients.”

College student

“Anything on-the-go, like big boxes of protein bars. Quest are pretty good. Small packages of nuts and seeds. They might enjoy some Clementines in their room or packets of oatmeal to cook in their room. Instant rice bowls, soup, quinoa or instant Thai are good, but look for low sodium versions. Or tuna in packets with wheat crackers.”

Suggestions from Heather Carrera, certified nutrition specialist for Lesley James, family physician in integrative practice in Rochester.

For people trying to maintain a healthful weight

“Give a gift certificate to a local healthy eatery such as CoreLife. Healthy eaters are busy, too. It can be nice to have a healthful, go-to option on the way home. Or a matcha tea set. Matcha is made from ground-up whole leaves, rather than making tea from an infusion and discarding the leaves. It contains up to three times more EGCG, the beneficial catechin linked to fighting everything from cancer to viruses to heart disease. Give a bone broth sampler, great for gut healing, bone broth is one of the best foods that a health-conscious person can include in their diet. It’s great for cold and flu season.”

For children

“A Chalk Pot herb kit can help the kid in your life appreciate the joy of growing and harvesting their own herbs that they grew themselves. Herbs have many health benefits, so it’s a great way to add another layer of nutrition to your meals.”

For diabetics

“Veggie spiralizer with zucchini and spiralizer cookbook lets pasta lovers still enjoy their favorite dish while watching carbohydrate intake. An olive oil lovers tasting kit (make sure it’s extra-virgin) provides polyphenols that assist in the reduction of LDL cholesterol oxidation, improves the ability of blood vessels to expand, and helps reduce inflammation. Dark chocolate may have beneficial effects on blood pressure, insulin resistance and vascular and platelet function. Choose varieties with over 75 percent cacao with no added sugar.”

For seniors

“If someone you know may not be eating well, or if they live alone, a meal delivery service or even a grocery delivery service such as Thrive Market may be a perfect gift. Thrive is an online grocery delivery service that has an assortment of clean, organic food. There are several local meal delivery services in the Rochester area that focus on healthy options.”

College student

“Manuka Honey is a unique and beneficial form of honey that has digestive healing properties as well as immune supportive properties. It has even been shown to stop the growth of strep bacteria. Paired with a hot cup of tea, this could be the perfect gift for the stressed college student. A Numi Organic Tea by Mood gift set lets students choose their tea based on their mood, while ‘secretly’ supporting their health. Give a microwavable glass popcorn popper with tub of organic popcorn kernels.

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