Some gift ideas for this most unusual gift-giving season

  • Courtesy of Roost Books

Updated 12/9/2020 4:16 PM

Gift-giving this season will be a little different.

My first thoughts on gifts that I could give weren't for presents, but for helping people to eat and survive during this pandemic.


A most-excellent holiday gift with real meaning is to donate money or foodstuffs (or both) to food centers with whom you feel a close affinity, such as a church, synagogue, mosque or a local food bank.

Too busy to put together a food donation? Some supermarkets and food stores have ready-made food donation boxes that can make this gift-giving path easy.

We're all doing our best to eat healthily, as well as not overeat. A new book, "The Nutritionist's Kitchen (Roost Books, 2020)" by Carly Knowles, may help us to head down a healthier path in the coming new year.

- Courtesy of Roost Books
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Knowles is a certified authority (MS and RDN) on healthy food plans. She's got a great back story -- working in a remote village in Peru, Knowles discovered that a Vitamin A deficiency was causing villagers vision loss (leading to blindness). That link between dietary nutrients and health led her to her degrees and, ultimately, her new cookbook.

Her book's first 94 pages cover information from how to understand intuitive and seasonal changes to the difference between pickled and fermented food. That's followed by 60-plus recipes on how to prepare nutrition-packed foods. You can learn how to make your almond milk or cook whole grains and prepare truly delicious and unique desserts -- how does Flourless Chocolate Almond Butter Brownies sound? Check Knowles out at her website:

If you're looking for a story-driven book vs. recipes, my best read in 2019 was Ruth Reichl's "Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir." Reichl was a renowned restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. Then she jumped to editor-in-chief for the highly regarded Gourmet magazine. After 70 years, Condé Nast, the magazine's publisher, surprised everyone, including Ruth, by suddenly shutting Gourmet down in 2009. Reichl's book is a classic page-turner.

Looking for kitchen tool ideas that won't bust your budget? How about an instant-read digital thermometer? My ThermoPop digital thermometer comes from ThermoWorks ( and costs just $34; direct. Other brands cost less. My digital thermometer has saved me multiple times from preparing overcooked meats. My "it's-definitely-done" decision is always right on the money.


My mandoline slicer (Swissmar Borner V-1001 V-Slicer Plus -- $49.95) gets pulled from where it's stored almost every day. Whether I'm slicing potatoes wafer-thin for a casserole or julienning carrots in a minute or less, my mandoline does the job. Be aware that some stainless steel mandoline's can run-up to and over $100.

Are you looking for a guy-gift for a man who grinds and makes his own coffee? Check out Volcanica Coffee Company's Whole Bean, Fair Trade, Fresh Roasted Colombian Supremo Coffee ($16.99/pound). I'm a fan of Colombia Supremo coffee, and the aroma that came from Volcanica's well-designed bag when first opened told me I'd bought the right coffee.

Happy holidays!

Here's Carly Knowles' recipe for her Flourless Chocolate Almond Butter Brownies.

• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@

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