From Your Table to Your Health: Stay Off the Naughty List With These Gift Ideas

Becky Varner shares recipes for gift-giving ideas that won't land you on the naughty list.
BY BECKY VARNER Modified: December 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm •  Published: December 5, 2012

Showing your appreciation for loved ones through food is common during the holiday season, but you can deliver delicious gifts in a healthful way.

Plenty of cookies, cakes and pies will be exchanged, so why not give a uniquely delicious gift that show long-term affection for those on your gift list.

Two of the current recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are to increase vegetable and fruit intake and to eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red and orange vegetables and beans and peas. Beans and peas are also a plant-based protein source and there are many ways to include them in the diet more regularly.

Another recommendation is to consume at least half of all grains as whole grains and to increase whole grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains. This Friendship Soup Gift encourages these recommendations. It includes split peas and lentils, which are plant-based proteins. Brown rice and whole wheat pasta are whole grains. Pearl barley is a grain but the bran has been removed.

Another recommendation in the Dietary Guidelines is to reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are black or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children and the majority of adults.

Most Americans consume more sodium than they need. Sodium is primarily consumed as salt. One teaspoon of salt contains approximately 2,300 mg of sodium.

Most of the salt consumed comes from salt added during the processing of food. There are many types of processed foods that contribute to the high intake of sodium. These low-sodium seasoning mixes are a great way to reduce sodium intake. The following Herb Seasoning Mix gift idea contains only about 1 milligram of sodium per teaspoon. It is delicious on meats and vegetables.

Herb Seasoning Mix Gift

Makes ¼ cup seasoning mix

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoons paprika

1 ½ tablespoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 small decorative jar with a tight fitting lid

Ribbon to decorate

by Scott Wright
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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