2016 holiday gift guide: Good-for-you gifts for a healthier 2017

Finding just the right gifts for friends and family – those thoughtful, creative presents that are the perfect fit – can sometimes be quite a challenge. Never fear, we’ve got you covered when it comes to wellness-inspired giving.

Good-for-you presents might include gift certificates for wellness services, such as a package of sessions with a personal trainer, registered dietitian or massage therapist; or a series of Pilates, Barre or yoga classes. Or consider giving workout apparel from favorites like Athleta or Lululemon.

An insulated lunch tote filled with nutritious snacks and a durable reusable water bottle, or a single-drink blender like NutriBullet or Oster Blend-N-Go blender empower recipients to continue with healthful habits long after the holidays. Same goes for a “DIY workout kit” with a yoga mat, medicine ball and jump rope.

And from healthful, handy kitchen gadgets to lifestyle-changing reading, here are five gift ideas to help you give the gift of health, wellness, and balance this season.

The Sleep Revolution by Ariana Huffington | $26

I’m a big fan of Ariana Huffington’s book “Thrive” (March, 2014, Penguin Random House) featured in my 2015 gift guide. (It’s still a favorite, by the way; I highly recommend it for anyone on your list).

I also love her new book, “The Sleep Revolution” (April, 2016, Penguin Random House), which challenges the cultural norm of sleep deprivation, noting the sufficient sleep is essential to achievement and success. Written with Huffington’s signature style of layering research and facts with poignant and relevant anecdotes, “The Sleep Revolution” successfully makes its case that if we’re going to truly thrive, we must begin with sleep.

Huffington drives home that sleep deprivation is linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity, and offers real-world strategies to help us achieve more quality, restorative sleep. This is a book that educates and motivates, and can be a much-needed gift for the health-minded individual who is on always on the go.

Painting Workshop or Pottery Class | $200 & up

Giving the gift of painting or pottery classes may not seem like a typical recommendation for a health and nutrition column. But new research has confirmed what many of us already sort of know: People who spend even just 45 minutes working with some form of art significantly lowered their levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This matters because high levels of stress hormones like cortisol are linked to more belly fat, not to mention fertility problems, gastrointestinal issues, immune system suppression and cardiovascular disease.

Treating a friend to an art class or series of classes not only gives the gift of fun and accomplishment, but it also quite literally gives the gift of health.

Vegetable Spiralizer | $9.99

Simply switching from white pasta to whole-wheat pasta doesn’t really save much in terms of carbs and calories. But make the transition to zucchini pasta for about 75 percent fewer carbs and calories.

And it doesn’t stop at zucchini – countless vegetables can be spiralized, from beets to carrots to radishes. Judy Walker, food columnist for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, has covered all things spiralized, including the basics on making vegetable noodles.

And you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a pricey tabletop version of a spiralizer. A $9.99 Vegetti brand spiralizer (available at stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond) is just fine. Pair it with a spiralizing cookbook, such as “Inspiralize Everything: An Apples to Zucchini Encyclopedia of Spiralizing” by Ali Maffucci (August, 2016, Clarkson Potter, $21.99) for an incredibly useful, functional, healthful holiday gift.

Nutrition Facts Food Scale | $39.99

Giving the gift of a scale of any type – bathroom scale, food scale, or otherwise – is always risky.

But this Perfect Portions Food Scale by Nutrition Gurus is really cool. It pairs the usual functions of a kitchen scale with a built-in database of nutrition facts so that when you weigh a food – salmon, olive oil or nuts, for example – the device reveals a digital nutrition facts label for exactly that amount of that particular ingredient.

The Perfect Portions Food Scale comes programmed with 2,000 different foods, plus the ability to customize by adding nutrition facts for up to 99 of selected foods and ingredients.

Air Fryer | $99 – $399

Available from brands, such as Philips, Power Air Fryer, and NuWave, these air fryers “fry” food with very little oil so that foods end up crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Let’s be honest: no one is going to mistake these air-fried potatoes for McDonald’s or Five Guys fries — but they’re still pretty darn good. I’ve also used the Air Fryer to make eggplant fries and turnip fries, each a fraction of the carbs and calories of regular fries or sweet potato fries, and they turned out delicious.

Note: Registered dietitian Molly Kimball offers brand-name products as a consumer guide; she does not solicit product samples nor is paid to recommend items.

Molly Kimball is a registered dietitian in New Orleans. She can be reached at eatingright@nola.com. Comment and read more atNOLA.com/eat-drink. Follow her on Facebook: facebook.com/mollykimballrd, Instagram: Instagram.com/mollykimballrd and Twitter: twitter.com/mollykimballrd.

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