Penne for Your Thoughts: Four Holiday Food Gift Ideas

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Being a nutrition major, dietetic intern, and someone who must eat to survive (hey, that’s you too), it’s safe to say that food is a huge part of my life. I also love the holidays and gift giving. Giving food gifts are a perfect way to share my love of nutrition and food with the people in my life. And who doesn’t love food? Here are four simple food gifts that your friends and family are sure to love!


True life: I’m a coffee addict. I’m sure you know someone like me. Why not surprise them this year with a nice bag of coffee for the holidays? It’s the perfect gift! Coffee lovers in your life will love your gift because coffee is shown to increase energy levels, may reduce the risk of diabetes (type 2) and high blood pressure as well as depression. Other benefits include increasing your metabolism and improving physical performance.


Packaging up cute, uncooked pasta is a perfect holiday gift! Plus, it’s loaded with nutrients. Pasta is a great source of carbohydrates, which are your body’s main source of fuel. Iron and the B vitamins both play roles in your body’s metabolism and promote a healthy cardiovascular and nervous system. Opting for whole-wheat pasta increases health benefits even further. Fiber found in whole grains can improve digestive health, lower cholesterol, and control blood sugar levels.

What pairs best with pasta? A delicious sauce! My go-to is a red pasta sauce. Tomato based sauces contain an antioxidant called lycopene that acts to repair and prevent damage to your body’s cells. It is shown to protect against cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and some cancers. Pro-tip: top your dish with a little olive oil to allow for more lycopene absorption.


Mixed nuts are a simple holiday gift that gives you a lot of room to be creative. You can toss them in your favorite seasoning and toast them or just gift them plain. Also, there are a huge variety of nuts to choose from. Regardless of how you choose to prepare them, you can’t go wrong with this holiday gift. Nuts are a source of unsaturated fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol. The fiber in nuts also helps lower cholesterol and control blood sugar. Nuts are also considered “heart healthy” because they contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.


I have found that I have a difficult time shopping for the men in my life whether it be my dad, brother or roommate.  But they all have one thing in common: they love jerky. It’s such an easy and nutritious gift! Jerky is a perfect “grab-n-go” snack that is loaded with protein. Snacking on protein is great because it’s gives a little boost that will keep you full until your next meal. Zinc and iron are other micronutrients found in jerky. Zinc supports your immune system and promotes wound healing. Iron is essential is proper production of red blood cells.

Keep these food gifts in mind when you are doing your last minute holiday shopping and consider going to the grocery store rather than the mall.