Gifts with Real Benefits

The first Christmas after my mom passed away, I went through her boxes and found lovely crochet handiwork that I loved and cherished dearly. I carefully pulled out one of the more beautiful pieces and packaged it to give to a member of the family, who sent me a thank you note in return. However, during a visit with this person a few months later, I noticed that she was using my Mom’s lovely crocheted coffee-table doily to dust! Yes, I watched as she sprayed it with the Endust furniture polish and proceeded to wipe down the furniture. Horrified, I grabbed it from her hands. With tears welling up in my eyes, I gave her a piece of my mind and rushed out of her home. Needless to say we no longer have a very good relationship. Lesson learned, I went home to figure out how I would never let something like this happen again.

I realized that giving a sincerely appreciated gift required that I remove myself from the picture entirely. I took notice throughout the year of the hobbies, lifestyles, and—most importantly—the ages of my friends and family members. By the time people hit middle and especially senior age, a lot of their wants have been met. Unless you really know them well, by far the best gift is a Visa gift card so they can spend it as they will.

You’d think that health benefits would always be a welcome gift. But we’ve all encountered friends or family members who, no matter how riddled with illness or pain, remain deaf to offers of help. For them, you’ll want to look elsewhere for gift ideas. But if, after careful consideration, you still think a health-inspired gift would be the best choice, I propose you take a look at my five suggestions below.

Five Great Life-Giving Gift Ideas 

  1. Men in Kitchens: A Good Day to Dine Hard (ebook)
    A great book for any man of any age! With these masculine recipes, the men in your life will learn how to make healthy, mouthwatering meals for friends and family—and themselves. Better yet, the Kitchen Savvy section will get them looking sharp at the cutting board in no time.
  2. Cook Your Way to Wellness (DVD and booklet)
    Do you know somebody new to the Weston A. Price Foundation? If yes, this DVD and booklet is the ideal gift! Sally Fallon calls it “A great companion to Nourishing Traditions! Perfect for beginners new to Nourishing Traditions principles.” Normally, one would have to spend an entire day in a seminar to learn this information. Instead, your friend can learn at her own pace and start enjoying the benefits of these power-packed foods right now. The DVD is 90 minutes of careful, detailed instructions for making kefir, whey, beet kvass, fermented veggies, kombucha, bone broth, butter, and beef jerky, and also has sections on soaking grains and nuts. There’s even a resource section and miscellaneous chapters on related subjects. The Tell Me More booklet is a companion to the video and answers many questions that inevitably come up when making these foods the first time.
  3. Nourishing Broth
    The celebrated author of Nourishing Traditions is back with the definitive book on bone broth—a food that can help the people in your life stay fit and healthy for life. Comprehensive in scope, impeccably researched, and a pleasure to read, Nourishing Broth by Sally Fallon Morell and coauthor Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, has everything one could ever want to know about the original whole food super food. As the authors compellingly explain, there are countless nutritional and health reasons to make homemade broth. But once your loved ones delve into these recipes, they may decide to stick with homemade broth for one reason alone: the wonder-inducing, lip-smacking, body-tingling taste. Once they receive this gift, they’ll never buy the canned or boxed stuff again.
  4. The Autoimmune Process and Reaction: Cause/Effect/Correction (MP3)

    Perfect for anyone on your list with an interest in history or nutrition—or the history of nutrition. This MP3 from Mark Anderson is a tour de force through the concept and historical importance of the autoimmune reaction as taught by Dr. Royal Lee and his fellow early pioneers in nutrition science. Just as Lee warned so long ago, autoimmune conditions are now considered to be the largest class of disease and the number one cause of death. This MP3 can help arm the people in your life with a deeper understanding of the nutritional components behind autoimmune conditions— and with understanding comes the power to change.

  5. The Heal Your Gut Cookbook
    If there’s ever been a good time to go with your gut, it’s now. The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet from Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett represents something new—a truly enjoyable path toward digestive health. If there are any health-conscious foodies on your list, this is the GAPS book for them.

To see a complete selection of books, CDs, DVDs, and so much more, simply browse the selections at Selene River Press. A treasure trove of research and commentary from the earliest days of nutrition science is also available at the SRP Historical Archives.

Now that you have some gift ideas, it’s time for two lively holiday recipes!

Christmas Rice
Adapted from Taste of Home

  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • ½ medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • ½ medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon organic butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth (see recipe in Nourishing Broth)
  • 2 cups rice, cooked (see soaking and cooking instructions in Nourishing Traditions)
  1. In a skillet, sauté onion, celery and peppers in butter over medium heat for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the broth to a mild simmer. Add the rice, celery, and peppers. Fluff to combine.

Baked Sardines in Pepperonata

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey or Rapunzel Organic Whole Cane sugar
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8 whole fresh sardines, gutted and deboned, or canned sardines
  • Chopped fresh dill and grilled crusty bread (for serving)
  1. Preheat broiler. Broil peppers on a heat-proof rimmed baking sheet, turning occasionally, until blistered all over, about 8–19 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 15 minutes, then peel, seed, and slice the peppers into ½-inch wide strips.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 450°F. Heat ¼-cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8–10 minutes
  3. Increase heat to medium-high. Add tomato paste and honey or cane sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until tomato paste begins to darken, about 1 minute. Add wine and vinegar and cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Mix in roasted peppers, parsley, capers, and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes
  4. Transfer pepperonata to a shallow 3-quart baking dish. Season sardines inside and out with salt and pepper, and then lay on top of pepperonata. Drizzle with organic olive oil. Bake until sardines are beginning to brown, 15–20 minutes if using fresh sardines, or about 5 minutes if using canned sardines.
  5. Top with dill. Drizzle with more olive oil and serve with bread.
An afterthought from the Traditional Cook...


Trimming trees in stocking feet
Eating all we want to eat.
Giving presents to our friends
This is how the whole year ends!
—Author unknown

Photo from iStock/Elnur

Maria Atwood, CNHP

Maria Atwood is a semiretired Certified Natural Health Professional and Weston A. Price Chapter Leader in Colorado Springs, CO. Visit her website at Also check out Maria’s Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD (also available as an e-learning course) and be sure to follow her Tips from the Traditional Cook blog.
Products by Maria Atwood

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