On the Table

Tasty gifts to please the palate

CorrespondentDecember 4, 2012 

BUSYBEE7-CHN-051412-HLL

Detail photo of some of the different kinds of spun honey product produced in small runs in 8-0z. six-sided glass bottles by Vintage Bee Thursday, at the local agricultural center complex in Hillsborough. Vintage Bee honey and honey products are wholesale to stores and restaurants and is a part of Busy Bee Apiaries business off New Hope Church Rd., Chapel Hill,NC.

HARRY LYNCH — hlynch@newsobserver.com

As we’re nearing the holiday finish line, here’s your gift-giving mantra: Keep it simple. Keep it practical.

Food gifts can be great choices for people who appreciate consumables that don’t add to the clutter around the house. Tailor the gifts for people with special needs, including friends and families with nut allergies, gluten or lactose intolerances.

The best choices are also relatively low in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat and added sugar. Aim for minimally processed foods with short ingredient lists.

I’ve shared many holiday gift ideas over the years. Here are some favorites:

• Cases of citrus fruits. Giving fruit in abundance encourages fruit eating and sharing.

But remember, people taking statins to control blood cholesterol levels can’t eat grapefruit.

• More fruit. It’s a splurge, but consider subscriptions to organic fruit-of-the-month clubs.

Those ubiquitous wicker trays filled with dried fruits and nuts this time of year are also nice. Anything not eaten during the holidays can be added to cooked oatmeal or quick breads and muffins this winter.

• High-quality coffee and tea. Freshly roasted coffee beans are a treat. Buy them in small paper bags labeled with the variety and tie on a bow, holiday decoration or a coffee scoop.

For tea drinkers, try smoky oolong varieties or chai tea, or give tea masala powders found in Indian specialty stores. A half teaspoonful transforms an ordinary cup of tea into a fragrant treat.

• Jars of jam, jelly, salsa, chutney, gourmet mustards, relishes and other condiments. Tie on a pretty jar topper, spreader or decorative spoon.

• Freshly baked loaves of bread. Wrap with a wooden cutting board or tie on a big bow and a nice bread knife. Whole-grain muffins and rolls also make great gifts.

• Bottles of pure maple syrup, sorghum, molasses or honey from the farmer’s market. Attach a gift tag recipe card with a favorite quick bread, muffin or pancake recipe.

If you’re still stumped, give a gift card to a natural foods store, specialty grocery store, or a coffee shop. This year, I’m giving paper coffee cups stuffed with coffee shop gift cards and wrapped in hot cup sleeves from Holly Aiken in Raleigh.

Happy holidays!

Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a licensed, registered dietitian and clinical associate professor in the Departments of Health Policy and Management and Nutrition in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Send questions and comments to suzanne@onthetable.net and follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.

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