Resist regifting that box of butter cookies
The holiday season centers on festivities that include decadent food and drink. Some indulgence is part of the fun. But are there places we can cut back a bit?
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Americans gain an average of 1.3 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
This doesn’t seem like much, but the study also found that people tend to lose only half the weight they gained after the holidays. That means your weight can creep up over the years.
A study from Tufts University found that overweight people gain more around the holidays, with some gaining about five pounds.
Beyond focusing on eating smaller portions at holiday gathering, we can reduce the number of high-calorie gifts we give one another.
Here are some ideas.
Green tea, rooibos, chai — there’s a tea out there for everyone. Pick up a tin of tea bags or buy some loose-leaf tea and a strainer for a gift that’s packed with antioxidant power. You can find beautiful tea blended with flowers, dried fruit, herbs and spices. Be sure to look for tea blends that don’t have any sugars or sweeteners in the ingredients list.
The nutritional benefits: All types of tea, especially green teas, are rich in polyphenols that may boost heart health. Regular tea consumption is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke and may help reduce blood pressure. Based on data from epidemiological studies, drinking tea is linked to a lower risk of cancer. In cell and animal studies, polyphenols in tea have been shown to prevent DNA damage and stop cancer from growing and spreading.
Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or looking for a grab-and-go gift idea, herbs and spices make healthy and thoughtful gifts.
Either buy a pre-made herb or spice mixture or make your own. Just buy your spices in bulk and get some small jars to fill with your creations. Add a gift tag, and you’ve made something beautiful and useful.
If you’re buying an herb blend or spice rub, make sure you check the ingredients list. Avoid any with salt, sugar, dextrose, or artificial flavors or colors added.
The nutritional benefits: Herbs and spices are packed with phytochemicals that lower inflammation. Many of these flavor boosters have natural antiviral and antibiotic properties and may help strengthen the immune system this cold and flu season.
You’ve seen trendy jars full of hot cocoa mix and brownie baking mix. Why not fill a Mason jar with beans, lentils, whole grains, and dried herbs and spices to create a cozy soup mix? Include a recipe tag and put the soup name on the label, and you’ve created a nutritious gift for cold winter days.
The nutritional benefits: When a water-based soup is loaded with high-fiber ingredients such as pulses or vegetables, it can help fill you up with fewer calories. Beans and lentils contain resistant starch, which is great for gut health and may helplower colon cancer risk.
Even if you don’t know much about someone, it’s easy to go with a set of oil and vinegar. One option is a blueberry-infused vinegar and a rosemary-infused extra-virgin olive oil.
The nutritional benefits: Extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, also known as omega-9s. These heart-healthy fats can lower LDL cholesterol levels, which helps reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Vinegar helps prevent blood sugar spikes by lowering the glycemic index of a meal. It can also make you feel fuller, which could help with weight control.
The combination of oil and vinegar could encourage the gift recipient to eat more salads this winter.
Zester and julienne peelers are both great options in this category. Zesters can be used to grate ginger and garlic and, as the name implies, to zest citrus fruits to incorporate fresh flavor into baking, dips and marinades.
You can use julienne peelers to create long strips to make zoodles (zucchini noodles) and other shredded-vegetable creations. It’s like a spiralizer, but it takes up way less space in your kitchen.
The nutritional benefits: With the zester, you’re encouraging people to try adding more flavor and nutrition to their meals and relying less on salt. The julienne peeler could inspire more creativity with vegetables in the kitchen. And that’s a gift that keeps on giving.