Holiday Gift Guide

Jacobus Vanderveer HouseI don’t know about you, but when it comes to presents, the last thing I need under the tree is more stuff to take care of. To me, a great gift is one I can eat or redeem for a massage at the spa—and if on some level, it benefits the planet too, so much the better. Here, my latest top picks for gifts of truly good taste (in more ways than one):

A subscription to Organic Gardening. I know. I just finished saying that I only wanted edible presents or spa certificates, but after all this is a gardening blog—and a subscription to this gorgeous magazine will lead to many lovely edible things in your own garden next summer. I used to get this publication long before I had a garden of my own, and I saved the back issues because flipping through the pages provided so many hours of pleasure. $23.94 for a two-year subscription at organicgardening.com

B'More Honey B’More Honey. For each share you purchase in the nation’s first and only community-supported apiary, you receive a one-pound jar of incredibly flavorful all-natural raw honey, plus the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping to preserve healthy bee communities. The honey will be delivered when it is harvested next summer. In the meantime, recipients will receive a certificate. Last year’s recipients of this gift from me called the honey “cosmic,” “amazing,” “glorious,” and “amber ambrosia”—and when you consider that bees pollinate a third of our food crops, the investment in food security seems well worth it. $45 per share at Baltimorehoney.org

Chocoveda’s Chakra Truffle Box. You don’t need to be a yogi to appreciate these bonbons. Each of the seven truffles is devoted to a different chakra, making each piece of chocolate “a sacred experience,” according to Julia Lungin, the company’s owner and a certified Ayurvedic practitioner. Whether or not ginger lemongrass really has anything to do with the manipura chakra (I honestly wouldn’t know), each of these truffles is so delicious that it demands that you pause to appreciate and savor just what a miracle a truly good chocolate can be. $30 at chocoveda.com

Pastamoré Balsamic Vinegar. These can make any salad taste like a gourmet treat. Friends and family members often ask my husband and me the secret to our delicious salad dressings. In fact, they’re nothing but extra-virgin olive oil and one of these barrel-aged vinegars from Modena, Italy. They’re so flavorful, you might even drizzle a little on fresh clementines for dessert or dip your bread into it instead of olive oil (for just 25 calories per tablespoon versus 120 for the oil). I bought four of these last year for my husband for Christmas. Our favorite flavors? Citrus and dark sweet cherry. $20 for a 12.7-ounce bottle at pastamore.com

Marinelli's True Pasta Sauce Marinelli’s True Italian Pasta Sauce—the best marinara you’ll ever taste from a jar. Marinelli’s is handmade in small batches from vine-ripened tomatoes that are so naturally sweet, the makers don’t need to add sugar. (Most commercial brands do.) Nor are there artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives—just sauce that tastes so fresh and natural, you’ll suddenly realize how many artificial ingredients you’re used to tasting in typical store-bought brands. It even comes in a classy UV-protected box to help prevent degradation from light. (For an extra healthy meal, serve it over spaghetti squash.) $9.99 per 24-ounce jar at Whole Foods, Publix, and specialty retailers

Vital Choice Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon. This premium, wild-caught salmon tastes like salmon ought to (but so rarely does), and as a bonus, it’s loaded with heart-healthy omega-3s and vitamin D. It’s so healthy, it’s endorsed by Dr. Andrew Weil, who actually helped the owners formulate one of their popular products, the Sockeye Salmon Sausage. Though they’re called sausages because of their spices, they’re actually patties, containing nothing but salmon, a little arrowroot for a binder, and organic herbs and spices, for an incredibly easy dinner. They come in three scrumptious flavors—country style, zesty Italian, and spicy chorizo. $25 at vitalchoice.com

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