From running gear to wholesome cookbooks, gifts for the health-conscious folks on your list

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      Shopping for the health-conscious loved ones on your list can be tricky: chocolates are out, and wellness books could come across as insulting. Read on for gifts that will delight those who place value on all things good for them.


      My Foot Reflexology's classic pedi treatment involves a soak and massage.

      Best foot forward

      Through the application of pressure on certain areas of the extremities that are said to correspond to organs and muscles, reflexology helps diminish stress, improve circulation, and enhance the body’s overall optimal functioning.

      For its classic pedi treatment, My Foot Reflexology (various locations) starts you off with a cup of green tea to sip and a foot soak before you sit back in a big, comfy chair while a practitioner presses, rubs, and strokes your toes, feet, and calves ($53 for a 45-minute session). Unlike most spa sessions, you don’t need to undress, and earplugs and blankets are available for extra comfort.


      The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque.

      Food heals

      Wholesome food is central to the health nut’s lifestyle, so it only makes sense to consider gifting one of the latest colourful cookbooks that celebrate healthy, delicious fare.

      Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen: Delicious, Nourishing Food for Lifelong Health and Well-Being ($24.95) is ideal for those who turn to plants like sage, cilantro, and mint for their medicinal properties as much as for their flavour. Herbalist Brittany Wood Nickerson’s original recipes range from lavender-and-dandelion-flower muffins and baked ricotta to hot-and-sour soup with tarragon vinegar and apple-and-parsley salad.

      Montreal mom and chef turned homesteader Aimée Wimbush-Bourque’s newest book reflects how her own family eats: a diet of fresh, flavourful, unprocessed, unrefined, and mostly organic and vegetarian ingredients. The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day ($32) features recipes for Turkish breakfast pita, whole-wheat chocolate-chunk zucchini bread, Vietnamese summer rolls, “gardener’s” sloppy joes, slow-cooker root-vegetable-and–cider stew, and more.

      Plus, she shares tips on how to host a soup swap, a brilliant follow-up to holiday cookie exchanges.


      Breville’s Fast Slow Pro.

      Pressure's on

      Interest in pressure cookers continues to pick up steam, with the Canadian Instant Pot dominating Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Its Duo Plus 9-in-1 multi-use cooker ($149.95) is already sold-out in several stores.

      Similar types exist, however, such as Breville’s Fast Slow Pro ($369), which can pressure-cook (with eight pressure levels), slow-cook, steam, sauté, sear, or reduce, all in a dishwasher-safe ceramic bowl free of nasty chemicals like polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, used in Teflon) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

      Besides dramatically reducing cooking time for everything from stews to risotto, pressure cookers have an added (and often overlooked) benefit for healthy eaters: shorter cooking times mean pressure-cooking tends to preserve vitamins and nutrients better than other cooking methods.


      Saltspring Soapworks’ Cranberry Orange soak.

      Cleansed by nature

      Soaps, lotions, bath products, and the like are lovely gifts, except when they’re loaded with substances that are harmful to the planet, never mind your own delicate skin and cells.

      Sea Wench Naturals, based in Tofino, draws on its astounding oceanic surroundings for inspiration and ingredients. Seaweed extract can be found in both its body wash and body lotion (from $16 at the Sea Wench Naturals website), while the bubble bath contains extracts of kelp, dulse, and bladder wrack, a shoreline seaweed.

      Saltspring Soapworks, too, uses natural ingredients: check out the Dragon’s Egg bath bomb ($8.95 at the Saltspring Soapworks website), which is made of activated charcoal for a detoxifying black-water bath. Its seasonal Cranberry Collection features Cranberry Orange Body Gelato ($14.95 for 240 grams), a made-fresh-daily bath product containing sea salt, ground organic orange peel, organic cranberries, and sweet almond oil, among other items, for an indulgent, invigorating soak.


      MEC's Early Bird reversible beanie.

      Run for your life

      Even when winter proves dark and rainy or clear and cold, not much stops local runners from hitting the seawall or the North Shore trails. Why not give something to enhance your pal’s outdoor-exercise experience?

      The unisex MEC Goto fleece gloves ($19 at MEC [various locations]) are light and stretchy and have touchscreen-friendly pads on the index fingers and thumbs, while the MEC Early Bird reversible beanie ($20), also unisex, keeps people’s ears warm, wicks away moisture, and comes complete with reflective details for those early-morning outings when visibility is poor.

      For runners complaining about tight, sore quadriceps and hamstrings, give the gift of self-massage with the SPRI Tiger Tail Rolling Massager ($34.99 for 18 inches at SportChek [various locations]) or the original Stick ($34.95 for the 18-inch Sprinter Stick online), both of which treat muscle pain and trigger points.


      Half Moon's limited-edition Mod Zafu + Zabuton Sit Set.

      Yogi presence

      Chances are your yoga-loving relative already has her own yoga mat, but what about so many other props and devices that can augment her practice? Bolster cushions are a boon to anyone who sits at a computer all day, helping to open up the spine; find rectangular (from $62) and cylindrical (from $68) styles in berry, wine, chocolate, and other colours at Just Yoga (53 East Broadway).

      Handcrafted Sit Sets (from $170 at Halfmoon) feature a small cushion atop a larger one, offering adjustable support and allowing you to relax your hips and sit tall and comfortably during meditation.

      Looking for more gift ideas? Check out the Georgia Straight's 2017 holiday gift guide here.