Put The Fruitcake Down. Try These Gift Options

FruitHYANNIS – Still need to find a few gifts for some hard-to-please loved ones? Why not appeal to their taste buds — and their desire for healthy living — with a selection of tasty, nutritious foods?

Skip the fruitcake and surprise them with a collection of spices, a taste of the Mediterranean or a sampling of locally made treats.

“Everyone loves to indulge, but we also complain about the holiday weight gain,” said Courtney Driscoll-Shea, clinical nutrition manager at Cape Cod Healthcare. “There are healthy and creative options that would be a welcome gift.”

The Washington Post recently compiled a list of some food packages that are both delicious and nutritious.

“It’s a great idea and you can use a little creativity to personalize it,” said Driscoll-Shea. “You can supplement the food basket with non-food items, like a funky kitchen tool that people wouldn’t buy for themselves.”

Here are a few themes to consider.

  1. A taste of Cape Cod

“I like to support local places when I can,” said Driscoll-Shea. Many local farms and specialty shops sell Cape-made honey. Local wineries and Cape Cod Beer have a range of local goods for sale.

The Local Juice is a newer company offering flavors like Shine (pineapple, celery, orange and lemon). Bottles are available online and at the Little Beach Gallery in Hyannis.

  1. Spice it up

As the Post said, “Herbs and spices do more than add flavor and color to dishes; thanks to their rich antioxidant content, they have bona fide health benefits.”

Driscoll-Shea suggested pairing an herb selection with a healthy recipe. If you don’t have your own stash of recipes, the Internet is your friend. A Google search for “paprika healthy recipe” yielded 1.6 million results. Sage, turmeric, ginger and Thai curry paste are among the healthy options for adding zest to a meal.

Atlantic Spice Company in North Truro carries a huge range of spices, along with cookbooks and kitchen gadgets.

  1. Time for tea

Not only is it rich with antioxidants, but a cup of hot tea in your hands just about forces you to take a few minutes to chill out. Atlantic Spice Company and most big and small grocery stores offer a variety of tea flavors.

Driscoll-Shea suggests combining a selection of teas with a pair of mugs and a pretty little stirring spoon. Local honey would add a nice touch to this gift basket.

  1. In a Mediterranean mood

Mediterranean food is has a reputation for being as healthy as it is delicious. The Post recommends combining extra-virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, faro (a whole grain that can be used as a pilaf or in a salad), sun-dried tomatoes and dried porcini mushrooms (great in soups and stews) in a gift basket.

Don’t forget a cookbook that will inspire some new uses for these ingredients.

  1. Snack attack

Swap the mega-box of chocolates for some slightly healthier options. Possibilities include fruit preserves (support our local cranberry growers!), pure maple syrup, mejool dates and honeycomb.

Driscoll-Shea said a nice selection of dark chocolates is available at many local candy shops. “Fruits are good to have but the traditional fruit basket is boring,” she said. “Dried fruits and nuts would be a good alternative.”

By BILL O’NEILL, OneCape Health News

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