By Rose McAvoy
The holiday season is a time for giving. It’s hard to beat the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from sharing a smile with a stranger, baking a gingerbread loaf for a neighbor, or presenting family and friends with presents wrapped to ‘pinable’ perfection. Giving a gift is a wonderful way to express an emotion that may not be as easy to convey with words. But let’s be honest, receiving gifts is pretty fun too. When Rogers and Hammerstein included, “brown paper packages tied up with string” in the Sound of Music classic Favorite Things, I’m pretty sure they meant for their names on at least one tag. I say, go ahead, make that wish list, check it twice, and whether you were naughty or nice is your business.
This is a selection of my favorite gifts for the home cook. Add them to your wish list or gift them to the healthy foodies in your life.
Microplane – Remember when I told you to drop everything and order a microplane because it will change your life? Well just in case you forgot here is another reminder. Put this revolutionary device at the tip top of your wish list and zest your way into the new year! (under $15)
Citrus Juicers – After you have massaged the fragrant outer layer from all your citrus give them a good squeeze with these fun and surprisingly effective juicers. My brother-in-law calls them “margarita makers.” (under $10 each)
Misto Oil Mister – The newest addition to my healthy kitchen is this sleek and sassy oil mister. They come in classic stainless and colored canisters. I am adding a second Misto to my wish list to expand my oil misting repertoire. (around $10)
Infused Vinegars &Oils – Feel like a true gourmand with a pantry full of flavored oils and vinegars. Use them to make one of a kind salad dressings and marinades. Imagine the possibilities in a bottle of rosemary and roasted garlic olive oil or a citrus infused balsamic vinegar. (prices vary and start around $10)
Spice Jars &Spices – One of the very best tools for a healthy cook is a rainbow of fresh spices. Give the gift of flavor via a gift certificate to a spice store. The best ones let you see, smell, and even taste the best the globe has to offer. I don’t know if it makes choosing easier or harder but it is a heck of a lot of fun! Wrap the certificate up with a collection of empty jars so the new ingredients will already have a spot in the pantry. These little pots are great for counter top storage. I have a number of basic jars like these from Williams-Sonoma and they make me quite happy. (prices vary; small jars can start around $1.25 a piece)
A Great Knife – Slicing and dicing piles of healthful produce is an act of pure joy with a great knife in your hand. My favorite for almost every task is J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife, around $50. (Given an A rating by Good Housekeeping) Pick one that is solidly built and feels good in your hand. Once you have a knife you love make sure to take care of it and KEEP IT SHARP! (price varies $35 and up)
Measuring Cups – Not the strictly functional variety, but a set of artistic and possibly handcrafted cups. These measuring cups will bring color and whimsy to your kitchen. They may not be pie-crust precise but it will be worth portioning snacks and breakfast cereal just to be able to use them! I love these from Anthropologie. (price varies $35 and up)
Silicone Baking Mats – Two of these treasures came into my life last Christmas and they are marvelous! Healthy cooking is simple and easy now that I don’t need to use non-stick spray every time I pull out a cookie sheet. Rolls of parchment paper last many times longer since these baking mats can be used over and over again. Their near magical properties give foods a nicer texture and very little if anything sticks to their slick surface. (around $20 a mat)
Air Popper – Popcorn is a super satisfying crunchy snack. Fluffy air popped kernels are delicious straight out of the chute. They also make a marvelous platform for flavor packed creations both sweet and savory. A word of caution – do not let your dying-to-be-helpful toddler pour a bottle of oil into your popper. If they do you will be adding one this to next year’s wish list too. ($20 and up)
Are any of these on your wish list? What are your favorite kitchen items to give as gifts?