Diet Detective Holiday Gift Guide 2011

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Gift: Harry & David’s Organic Fruit Basket

Overview: Harry & David consistently delivers wonderful, delicious fruit. Its new Organic Fruit Basket sends the message that you care about the health of your family or friends. Also consider an old standby: the Organic Family Affair Royal Riviera Pears for $39.95.

Health Bonus: Buying organic, especially to avoid the “dirty dozen” is a smart idea when trying to avoid pesticides. Oh, and getting the phenomenal health benefits of fruit.

Price: $69.95

Where to buy:

Gift: California Avocado “Unique Gift Box”

Overview: This is a pretty unusual gift — you get seven large Hass avocados and Ben’s Blend, Salsa and Masher. “A premium California avocado is sure to provide the rich taste of healthy living. From the time the trees are planted, to the day the fruit leaves the farm gate, our attention to detail delivers value time and time again. We never leave quality to chance. That is why we hand grow, hand pick, and hand pack, every California avocado,” says the owner, farmer Ben Holtz. As of the writing of this column, the gift baskets are not ready; however, I’m assured that they will be ready to order by Dec. 9. It’s worth the wait. Ben is also offering a special — a gift certificate for nine Large California Fuerte Avocados for $29.95 (the avocados ship in January).

Health bonus: Avocados are nutrient-dense and packed with antioxidants, vitamins B6, C and E, as well as folate and potassium (60 percent more potassium per ounce than bananas), and they’re a great source of monounsaturated fat, which studies have shown reduces serum cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fats.

Price: $59.95 includes free shipping.

Where to buy:

Gift: Better Homes & Gardens Ultimate Low-Calorie Meals (Wiley Paperback; December 2011)

Overview: This book is packed with more than 400 healthy, original, low-calorie recipes. Icons let you quickly identify recipes that are ready in 30 minutes or less, high in fiber and low in sodium. The book also includes substitution charts that help make every meal more calorie-conscious.

Health Bonus: Low-calorie healthy recipes that you can easily cook at home will keep you fit and trim!

Price: $13.45

Where to buy:,

Gift: SpongeBob’s Kitchen Mission Cookbook: The Battle for the Best Bites in Bikini Bottom by Nickelodeon (Wiley Hardcover; October 2011)

Overview: To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of SpongeBob; however, kids love the show and this book is relatively well done. Here is the description from the publisher: “Packed with more than 50 clever and engaging recipes to get kids active in the kitchen, the book offers nutritious and delicious ideas for everything from breakfast to snacks to dinner, and even some tasty treats for dessert. Each recipe contains tons of colorful illustrations and wacky, good-natured humor while teaching kids to measure, stir, shape and decorate everything from Neptune Nachos to Pirate Chips and Bubble Tea. These simple, delicious recipes emphasize the healthful ingredients children need (­ fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy) and include a range of dishes for even the pickiest palates.”

Health Bonus: Teaching children to cook nutritious recipes at an early age can help get them in the kitchen and out of the fast-food line.

Price: $11.54 (on Amazon)

Where to buy:,

Gift: Filtering Water Bottles: Brita Bottle and Hydros Filtering Water Bottle

Overview: These water bottles make wonderful stocking stuffers for any health-minded person (or anyone for that matter). The Brita Bottle filters tap water. It’s BPA-free and dishwasher safe (top rack). Then there is the Hydros Filtering Water Bottle with side-fill technology and a twist-and-turn spout that filters the water upon entry and makes filling, pouring and drinking simple. It’s dishwasher safe, BPA- and phthalate-free and American made. Additionally, each Hydros Bottle purchase makes it possible for Operation Hydros “to build sustainable water infrastructure to aid the nearly 1 billion people worldwide who do not have access to clean, drinkable water. Every bottle sold provides clean water to one person in need for one whole year.” The bottle is also interestingly designed, and the company has a cool website. Nice work, Hydros!

Health Bonus: Water is great for hydration and helps keep you feeling full. Also, reusable bottles help to make a cleaner Earth.

Price: Brita Bottle $9.99 ($7.88 on, Hydros $23.99 ($17.99 on

Where to buy:,


Gift: FoodTee Healthy Food Clothing Company – Long-Sleeve Shirts

Overview: Wearing warm, cozy long-sleeve cotton shirts with healthful fruits and vegetables and cute or funny sayings is a great way to express yourself and stay motivated. Plus, you’re setting an example and showing off your healthful lifestyle. And they’re really adorable. Think an image of an upside-down banana with the words “Downward Dog” below it, a celery stalk that says “Stalker” or beets that say “Heart Beet.” [FoodTees are affiliated with]

Health bonus: Recent research in the Journal of Health Promotion shows that using visual cues, such as FoodTees , can help you make better health choices.

Price: $29.95

Where to buy:

Gift: The Pampered Chef Microwave Chip Maker

Overview: You can turn white potatoes, sweet potatoes and even apples into light, crispy chips in just a few minutes. It’s a pretty simple design — a large silicone plate allows for air flow while cooking, which makes crispy chips without frying. For best results you need to slice the potatoes or apples thin (1 mm/1/32″). (The company also makes a Simple Slicer for $29.50.) The chip maker comes with a set of two 11″ plates that are dishwasher-safe. I must say I was skeptical about making crispy chips in a microwave, but it worked, and my 9-year-old loved them.

Health Bonus: Healthier chips!

Price: $26.50

Where to buy: Pampered Chef

Gift: T-fal ActiFry

Overview: The T-fal ActiFry is a multi-cooker with roasting, frying and slow-cooking capabilities, but the best part is that you can make healthy white or sweet potato fries. All you need is 1 tablespoon of oil to make 2 pounds of fries. The food is evenly cooked using a pulse heat system (hot air). The machine is also simple to use — you place the ingredients in the nonstick pan, close the lid, set the timer and switch it on. No pre-heating is required. On their website there are hundreds of recipes by other ActiFry users.

Health Bonus: Cooking without high-calorie fat.

Price: $249 Where to buy:

Gift: Anything Lululemon

Overview: This clothing and lifestyle company was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1998. In fact, according to their website, the first Lululemon shared its retail space with a yoga studio. The company describes the clothing it makes as technical athletic apparel for yoga, running, dancing “and most other sweaty pursuits.” The fact is that their clothing is great — it fits well, feels good and helps inspire you to be active. There is also something magical about the fabrics.

Health bonus: Check out their great website and online yoga classes here.

Price: Varies

Where to buy: Buy online at or find a store here.

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