It is already December! Holy cow, where did this year go??!
'Tis the season for gift-giving, and I know how hard it can be to come up with the perfect gift for that special someone, so I decided to put together a pretty epic paleo gift guide to help you out. You may also find some things that you want to add to your wishlist this holiday season, so go ahead and share this post with folks who you know will be shopping for you to give them some ideas, too :-)
The following items are some of my personal favorite products along with some things that are on my wishlist. You can also create a "paleo newbie" gift set for someone you love who has been interested in changing over to the lifestyle but hasn't gotten started with the items below.
I used to do most of my shopping for paleo food and pantry items on Amazon, however I am switching over to Barefoot Provisions when it's time for me to re-order things. Their prices are cheaper than Amazon's, but you have to pay shipping. It usually works out in your favor, though, and you get the karma bonus for supporting a small business that is passionate about the paleo lifestyle. I'll share links with you for where to find my recommendations on both sites so that you can make the best decision for your situation. I am an affiliate partner for both sites.
- Microplane Zester - Once you start using zest in your cooking, you'll never go back. It adds such great flavor to your dishes. This is also great for grating cheese, if you do dairy.
- Silicone Baking Mat - I hate throwing things away and I admit that I have gone through a lot of parchment paper in my days. That's all changed since I bought some silicone baking mats. They are very easy to clean and greatly reduce the need for parchment paper in your paleo kitchen. Highly recommend.
- Le Creuset Enameled Dutch Oven - When I use cast iron, it's enameled. I know folks love their skillets, but they're just not my thing -- I'll take my oven safe stainless steel fry pans any day over cast iron. But, I do love my enameled cast iron Dutch ovens and use them frequently for both stovetop and oven use (they're great for braising greens).
- Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press - I first heard about this item in Tim Ferriss's book The 4-Hour Chef. I thought it kind of funny that he got so excited about this gadget, but now that I own it, I totally get it. I use this item at least once a day in my kitchen (I LOVE garlic) and it makes using garlic sooooo easy. You don't have to peel the cloves, which saves so much time! I couldn't imagine my kitchen without this tool.
- Slow Cooker - This exact model of slow cooker has been a workhorse in my kitchen for the last 5 years. I love that it is programmable, it automatically sets to "warm" after it finishes cooking, and that it comes with a built-in temperature probe to take the guesswork out of how long to cook roasts for. Once it hits temperature, it goes to "warm".
- Stick Blender - I admit I was late to the game getting a stick blender (immersion blender), but I am loving this item so far! It is perfect in the fall and winter when soups are on the menu. I always hated pouring hot soup into my blender. It is also great for making smoothies, dressings, and other sauces!
- Microplane Peeler - This is another tool I can't imagine my kitchen without. It makes super fast, easy, comfortable work of peeling tons of fruits and veggies. It has an incredibly sharp and precise blade and has a truly ergonomic handle that won't make your hand cramp up. The blade is so good, it can peel the skin off of a tomato. Wow!
- Hot Bacon Spoon - I think this one speaks for itself! We all know a bacon lover who will appreciate this spoon.
- Cuisinart Food Processor - You will save so much time and effort with prep work if you have a high-quality food processor in your gadget arsenal. It's worth saving up for, and will make someone very happy to get as a gift!
- Instant Pot 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker - I only just bought mine, but have been drooling over one ever since seeing Nom Nom Paleo gush about hers. I have a terrible habit lately of forgetting to plan dinner ahead, so I'm excited that I can throw frozen meat right in this baby and have a piping hot dinner in no time flat. I am also excited to try out bone broth -- instead of taking days, it's just an hour in one of these!
- Spiralizer - When grain-based noodles are off the menu, what do you pair with your delicious homemade marinara or nomato sauce? Veggie noodles, of course! Make them with this fun spiralizer.
- 100% Plastic-Free, Insulated French Press - fact: hot plastic leaches endocrine-disrupting chemicals into food and drinks. You don't want to be drinking coffee out of anything made of plastic. French Press coffee tastes better, anyway, and with this press your coffee will be plastic-free!
- Wooden Measuring Spoons - These are just too adorable! No description needed :-)
- Maple Syrup, Grade B - I choose to only use my local raw honey raw (not in baked goods) and instead use maple syrup in recipes that need sweetener plus moisture. It is also great on my pancakes!
- Coconut Flour (here's another brand I use on Barefoot Provisions) - Coconut flour is probably the #1 staple paleo cooking flour, not just in my kitchen, but in everyone's. You'll be missing out on a lot of great recipes if you don't have any! Makes a great addition to a "welcome to paleo" gift basket.
- Great Lakes Gelatin (or give Vital Proteins a try over at Barefoot Provisions) - Adding gelatin to your diet is a great way to begin practicing nose to tail eating. It's also worthy of superfood status as it is so incredibly good for your whole body, particularly your gut. Pair this with The Gelatin Secret to send someone over the moon with delight!
- Tapioca/Yuca Starch -Tapioca, cassava, manioc, and yuca are all THE SAME PLANT, and I know it is confusing, but the starch/flour is all the same thing regardless of name. This is a traditionally used flour in Latin America and is great for breads. It has a natural elasticity and stickiness that makes it useful in gluten-free baking. However, always be careful to follow the directions exactly when making a recipe that includes yuca flour. When yuca flour recipes fail, it's usually a pretty epic failure.
- Cultured Grass-fed ghee (non-cultured version available, too) - What makes this cultured ghee unique is that the culturing process removes trace amounts of casein and lactose from the ghee, making this appropriate for use on the autoimmune paleo protocol and for anyone with dairy sensitivities, since the allergenic components have been completely removed.
- Organic Olive Oil (the most delicious EVER) - This brand is the real deal. It's a lovely, vibrant green color with a wonderfully fresh grassy flavor. I never buy any other brands of olive oil. Perfect to help someone transition into paleo -- use it for cooking instead of canola or corn oil! And yes, it's totally safe to cook with. Let's put that myth to rest!
- Grass-fed Beef Tallow - Tallow is my favorite cooking fat for potatoes and it is also my choice for searing steaks in the frying pan. It enhances the flavor of any roasted veggies and can withstand high heat, making it great for sauteeing and deep frying.
- Organic Panela/Jaggery - This is 100% pure, totally unrefined cane sugar. You can't get a more whole-foods sweetener than this! It has a wonderful, rich, full-bodied flavor that tastes great in any recipe that calls for sugar. It is even used traditionally as a remedy for respiratory ailments when paired with fresh ginger and lemon juice. It comes in a block, so it stores much more compactly than granulated sugar. Shave or grate off what you need for recipes using a knife or grater.
- Coconut Aminos - The gluten-free, soy-free alternative to soy sauce. 'Nuff said.
- Coconut Oil (or Nutiva brand from Barefoot Provisions) - Swapping fats is a very easy first step towards a healthier lifestyle. Buy a jar of this for someone you care about and get them to drop the Crisco!
- Crio Bru - Crio Bru is ground cacao which you brew just like coffee. It's got a deep, rich punch like coffee offers, but with a smooth hint of deep, dark chocolate. Highly recommended!
- Pasture-raised Lard - I love to use lard in baked goods recipes that otherwise call for shortening or coconut oil. It is, in fact, the traditional shortening used for baking! Bonus: lard from pasture-raised pigs is a rich source of Vitamin D. Skip the supplements and just eat more good lard!
- Plantain Flour - You probably wondered why there were plantains at the bottom of the photo...the plantain flour product listing has a terrible photo :-P This is my #1 favorite paleo flour to cook with. I love the flavor and quality of the flour compared to working with pureed green plantains. Check out my crackers and pancakes that use this awesome stuff! I have several more recipes using it that are in development to share with you soon, too.
- Fish Sauce (or grab it on Barefoot Provisions) - Fish sauce is an excellent way to add some extra oomph with umami to your savory dishes. It easily turns into the "secret ingredient" in sauces and stews!
- Flavor God Seasoning Pack - Spice blends can be full of junk like gluten or MSG. Flavor God uses only paleo-friendly ingredients to kick your cooking up a notch.
- Avocado Oil Potato Chips (or Honest Chips, cooked in coconut oil, from Barefoot Provisions)- I don't eat potato chips very often at all, but when I do, I buy these, which are cooked in avocado oil, which is remarkably heat-stable. These are also some of the best-tasting chips I've ever had the pleasure of eating. I haven't tried the Honest Chips yet, but am putting in an order soon with Barefoot Provisions so that I can!
- Good Cacao Probiotic Dark Chocolate Bars - I am so blown away by these chocolate bars. We all know cacao is a superfood, but this brand jam packs so many extra nutrients and other superfoods into their bars. This one even has probiotics! They taste absolutely amazing, too. Highly recommend.
- SaMai Plantain Chips - I first bought these chips because they are cooked in healthy red palm oil, but when I researched the company I fell in love! They are fair-trade and use sustainable practices to produce these delightful starchy snacks. You will love them as much as I do! Pair them with an avocado and an Epic bar for a super fast, nutritious, filling meal on the go.
- Dang Coconut Chips (or grab them on Barefoot Provisions) - My sister shared some of her Dang coconut chips with me when I visited her a few months ago and HOLY MOLY are they amazing! I was not expecting to think they were anything special but I pretty much flipped out with the first bite. You just HAVE to try these - they make an excellent snack!
- True Paleo Sticks - I just placed an order for these, but they look utterly fantastic. They are grass-fed beef jerky sticks that are made with heart, liver, and kidney, giving them a significant nutritional punch!
- Nikki's Coconut Butter - The vanilla cake batter flavor is why I survived the first month on the autoimmune paleo diet. SO good and such a great, easy, filling snack, either alone or paired with fruit. Love this stuff!
- Epic Bar Sampler Pack (or buy one of each on BP) - Epic bars have become a staple for me, either as a snack or as a quick meal with an avocado plus plantain chips (see below). I highly recommend buying the sampler pack to try out all the flavors. You may be surprised which one is your favorite. Turkey is my #1 fave, followed by the bison (which is the only true autoimmune paleo option).
- Love Bean Superfood Fudge Spread (get a squeeze pack for on-the-go-snacking from Barefoot Provisions) http://amzn.to/1AFz0qD - Did you ever like to eat the frosting right out of the can? I know I did. Now, we can do that without all the guilt with Love Bean's fudge spread. Hallelujah!
- Tanka Buffalo Bars - Tanka bars are another great option for an on-the-go meat-based protein bar. I haven't tried these yet myself, but I've heard great things about them from people I know who have.
- Justin's Maple Almond Butter Packs - Warning: this stuff is like crack. It tastes so good that I really do have to be careful not to eat half the jar in one sitting. If you need a dense source of delicious calories to fuel your days, this is the stuff you want. I eat it by the spoonful but it also pairs well with fruit.
- Hail Merry Chocolate Tarts - Whatever good things you have heard about Hail Merry products, they're true. I am a chocolate fiend, so this was the first flavor I went for. Ultra rich, dreamy creamy, and made with just a few simple paleo ingredients. YUM!
- Grass Run Farms Jerky Sticks - These grass-fed beef jerky sticks are THE BOMB. They taste absolutely AMAZING. I have to restrain myself and only eat them 1 at a time, but I could easily gobble up too many in one sitting they are so good!
- Exo Cricket Protein Bars - Cricket protein is the next big thing (no, really), so better jump on the bandwagon now! These Exo bars taste fantastic - you won't even know you are eating bugs! They remind me of a Larabar, only better. The texture and the flavor is better than any flavor of Larabar you can buy. Not to mention they have far less sugar plus lots more fat and protein than Larabars, too.
- Blue Light Blocking Glasses - We can't ignore it any longer: artificial light is screwing up our brains and our sleep quality. Wear these blue light blocking glasses after sunset to improve your hormone production and sleep. Now I just gotta find a pair that fits comfortably over my prescription glasses!
- FitBit Flex Activity and Sleep Monitor - If you are a data freak, you will love tracking your daily activity and your nightly sleep with the FitBit Flex.
- CAP Kettlebell - Kettlebells are so much more versatile than barbells or free weights. This is a great brand that offers a range of weights to suit your strength level.
- Dry Brushing Body Brush - I started dry brushing my body several months ago and I'm totally hooked. My skin is smoother, softer, and and more supple since starting. I love this natural-bristle brush. It's just long enough for me to reach my whole back with.
- Life Straw Water Bottle - For the adventure-loving friend! Life Straw can create potable water from even the muckiest, most disgusting water sources, removing bacteria and contaminants to make water safe to drink. You can fill the bottle from a stream and drink it through the filter without any concerns. They also make a straw without the bottle for more compact storage. I keep a couple in my hurricane kit (can't take clean water for granted after surviving Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans).
- Pong iPhone Case - Pong cases are available for several major cell phone models, not just iPhone. They are designed to significantly reduce your exposure to radiation from your cell phone while simultaneously boosting the signal - verified by independent labs. Pretty groovy, huh?
- Vivobarefoot Gobi II Boot - I took a chance on Vivobarefoot in 2008 when I firs joined the barefoot running movement and I have not looked back since! My husband and I own over a dozen pairs of their shoes and we keep going back for more! These shearling-lined boots are on my wishlist this winter - I've asked Santa to bring me a pair!
- Foam Roller - I am kicking myself for not buying a foam roller years sooner than I did. This product will change your life in ways you can't even imagine right now. A must-have.
- Himalayan Salt Lamp - It may sound far out, but Himalayan salt stones help purify the air and mitigate the negative effects of the EMF exposure we get from our devices (like computers). Trust me - you'll notice the difference once you start using one. They sure are pretty, too!
- Grass-fed liver pills - Just can't bring yourself to eat liver? You can take these pills made from grass-fed beef liver instead. Although I do recommend trying your best to learn to love liver. I've got a ton of recipes for you to try out here.
- Digestive Enzymes - These are my favorite digestive enzymes because they've got DPP IV, an enzyme that helps your body to break down gluten and casein, should you accidentally (or purposefully) encounter any in your food. They are also just a great, all-purpose, digestive enzyme to help you break down your food better. Perfect for the holidays when you are eating lots of rich food that may have cross-contamination!
- Buckwheat Pillow - Buckwheat pillows have a long history of use and are super comfy. A fine use for grain hulls if you ask me! Note: buckwheat is gluten-free, but if you are exquisitely sensitive to grains you may want to avoid this product.
- Bio-Kult Probiotics - A great general-purpose probiotic with a nice variety of beneficial strains. If you don't want or need digestive enzymes, taking these with meals will also help with digestion. If you are looking for something more heavy duty, try Prescript Assist (made with soil-based organisms) or Renew Life 80 Billion. I took both during my leaky gut journey.
- Natural Calm - Ladies, nothing works better than a dose of magnesium to put even the worst menstrual cramps at bay. This is also a great supplement to take at night to help you relax and get to sleep. I prefer the unflavored variety; the flavors all taste too fake to me, but to each his own.
Honorable mention: Zero Water Filter - Hands down the best water filter I have ever used. Comes with a total dissolved solids meter so you know exactly when its time to change the filter. I always remineralize my water with Concentrace mineral drops, since it's actually not healthy to drink totally pure water all the time.
Want to save money and get a huge variety of tasty paleo foods? Check out this Holiday Kit by Barefoot Provisions. It would make a fabulous gift for anyone following the paleo lifestyle, or a great gift for yourself so that you know you've got good food with you during your holiday travels. Highly recommend this package!
Have a special lady in your life who loves makeup, but hates toxic ingredients?
I have fallen in love with a new brand: 100% Pure Cosmetics. They use the most natural, plant-based ingredients in all of their products. I am thoroughly impressed by them and recently took advantage of their Black Friday/Cyber Monday specials. I have a confession: I have not owned one piece of makeup for the past 5 years due to concerns about toxic ingredients and my extremely sensitive skin. That said, I was immediately sold when I read about their products and the ingredients lists. I recognize all of the ingredients and there is absolutely nothing questionable or harmful in any of their products.
So far I am loving the water foundation, the creamy eyeliner pencil, the luminous primer, and the lip glaze. I will be doing a more thorough review in the future, but I encourage you to check out this brand if you've been wishing for toxin-free cosmetics that actually WORK!
- The Primal Blueprint - This is the book that started it all for me. I would not have the success story that I do without Mark's book and website.
- The Frugal Paleo Cookbook - Hot off the presses by my good friend Ciarra at Popular Paleo, this book is one I know I will find myself cooking from again and again. The recipes are not only budget-friendly, but also help you get the most out of the least amount of time spent in the kitchen. Read my full review here.
- The Gelatin Secret - Read my full review here. This e-book is jam-packed with information about WHY you should make a point of consuming gelatin followed by a ton of great recipes for savory and sweet goods alike to make consuming gelatin delicious and easy.
- Real Life Paleo - Read my full review here, but this book is great if you need a well-laid plan to follow to be successful with the switch to paleo. The principles in this book will help you stick to paleo in the long-term, not just for a 30 day challenge. It's also got tons of delicious recipes so you never get bored!
- Cooking with Coconut Oil - I find myself coming back to this cookbook often; it is full of a wide variety of fun and interesting paleo recipes, all using our favorite fat: coconut oil. Check out my full review of this fabulous book here.
- Primal Cravings - If you want to recreate your favorite foods from before you went paleo, this is the cookbook for you. There are some incredible recipes in here!
- The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook - This book is a must-own if you are following the autoimmune paleo protocol. It is a tough diet to adhere to, but Mickey's gorgeous book makes it easy and gives you tons of great options for food so you don't get bored and fall off track. Read my full review here.
- Good Calories, Bad Calories - If someone on your list is either a) a scientist like me or b) just intensely curious about the WHYS of the paleo diet and health, give them this book. It's a truly eye-opening read about just how duped we have been by our own government regarding the right and wrong way to eat.
- The Omnivore's Dilemma - ichael Pollan is a brilliant writer. This book will totally revolutionize the way you think about food and where you food comes from. A truly enlightening book that you won't want to put down once you start reading. He takes you from the factory farm, to the serene pasture-based Polyface Farm, to an exciting hunting trip to look at the various ways we can source our meats today. Very highly recommended!