Holiday Granola & Healthy Gift Ideas


Instead of joining the December feeding frenzy, consider changing your gift ideas. In my view, the best gifts are the ones that benefit the receiver! The best part of all is that many of these gift ideas are New York City based. Don’t you love this city?!

Make your own granola and give it away in fancy mason jars. This particular recipe is not only festive (red & green!), but high in antioxidant content from the cranberries, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds (“pepitas”). It’s also incredible satisfying because of it’s good sources of healthy fat. See recipe below!

The gift of chocolate. The worlds greatest chocolate made right here in Brooklyn! Check out Mast Brothers factory in Williamsburg or the fanciest 72% dark chocolate bars in town at Cacao Prieto in Red Hook. Two ounces of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) provides 200mg of antioxidant-rich flavonols associated with cardiovascular health! Reason enough to make the trip. 

Pitanga Juice’s motto is Happiness! Find happiness in their delicious array of juices, smoothies, raw food, and balanced cleanses. Owner, Raquel, includes exotic fruits and vegetables from Brazil, her home country. Read more about juicing versus blending here. 

Filling Station is a unique shop located in Chelsea Market. They specialize in extra virgin olive oils (EVOO), balsamic vinegars, and exotic salts, to mention a few. The best part is that the company encourages customers to reuse and refill their bottles and jars in order to receive a 10% discount. My favorites are black cherry vinegar, black truffle sea salt, and chipotle olive oil. Environmentally friendly and delicious!

Beautiful gift sets from Spice & Tease. You can mix and match any spice or tea to your liking.

Fitbit is a great way to monitor steps, distance, calories burned, and sleep quality. Their catch phrase? Make fitness a lifestyle. Amen. 

Looking for an ergonomic, BPA/BPS-free water bottle? Look no more. LifeFactory water bottle is the way to go. 

Brooklyn Slate Co. sell amazing pieces of black and red slate from the Vermont and New York Slate Valley. These pieces are handpicked to make cheese boards and coasters from one of the most durable, naturally occurring stones readily available. 

If you are interested in a balanced, funny, and informational (but not boring) scientifically-based book on weight loss, buy Foodist. I’ve read a lot of books on nutrition, and this one really spoke to me. I also loved the non-extreme approach to healthy eating. Enjoy! 

Gift Certificates. Show you care by gifting certificates to a session with a registered dietitian! Hint hint… ;)

Holiday Granola


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ½ tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup cranberries
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp clove


  • Preheat oven to 300F.
  • Mix oil, honey, vanilla, clove, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Slowly add flaxseeds and oats to the bowl. Mix well, until oats are fully coated.
  • Spread out granola onto a parchment paper or baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Stir well, add seeds and cranberries, and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until oats are golden.
  • Allow to cool.

 Happy gifting! Alanna

What are some of your healthy gift ideas?

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN

Farmers’ Markets: Where You Can Find Real Food


If you are into local/real food, you’ve probably been to The Union Square Greenmarket. This wonderful market attracts around 140 regional farmers, fishermen and bakers each season, and approximately 60,000 shoppers daily! 

I am a huge fan of farmers’ markets, because even though they may not have the fancy “organic” label, the food is most assuredly grown in a greener fashion. They use natural fertilizers and cattle/chicken/pigs are allowed to roam and feed on grass, rather than force-fed corn or soy (which is probably a genetically modified organism (GMO) to boot!). 

Below are some of the reasons why I heart farmers’ markets:

Yummier. Have you ever compared the smell and taste of a grocery store tomato to a local tomato? There is no comparison. Food imported from far away is older because it has traveled so long to get to you. Also, as food expert Darya Pino Rose states, industrial produce is “bred for durability, mass production, and ease of transport,” not for taste and much less for health. Local produce quality is retained because the farmer allows foods to ripen and then harvests them at the peak of their flavor.

Healthier. Not only does fresh food tend to have higher antioxidant and phytonutrient counts, but local produce also has less pesticide residue and fewer preservatives.

Easy. USDA Farmers’ Markets Search and Grow NYC are great resources to find the farmers’ market nearest you. It’s that easy! You can also check whether food assistance programs such as SNAP and WIC cards are accepted. 

Unique. Many farmers’ markets offer lesser known fruits and vegetables, providing a variety that can be both tasty and nutritious. In most grocery stores, you find a few plant varieties, but with smaller local farms, it benefits their soil to grow many different varieties. Therefore, we reap the benefits of unique flavors, colors, and shapes! For more ideas on seasonal varieties, check out the USDA’s seasonal produce guide or the awesome seasonal chart from Grow NYC.  

Sad Statistic: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that more than 75% of agricultural genetic diversity was lost in the 20th century. Yet, small, biodiverse farms preserve our food heritage!

Safe & Smart. Not only can local farmers answer questions about the quality of their produce and how the food is raised, they also have great recommendations on ways to prepare their products. After all, they love (real) food.

Good for Humanity & the Environment. If nothing else, farmers’ markets are a way to connect to the land through the grower. Knowing where your food comes from makes for an extremely powerful experience. In addition, by selling locally, farmers reduce distribution and packaging, reducing waste as well as advertising costs. Well-managed farms conserve fertile soil and clean water in our communities. In addition, farms provide habitats for wildlife since they retain the surrounding fields and ponds.

Wow Tip: In conventional food markets, the farmer gets about 10 cents of each dollar after all the middlemen have been paid. At a local farmers’ market, farmers keep 80-90 cents of each dollar. Doesn’t that make more sense?

Tips for Visiting a Farmers’ Market:

  1. Ask questions!Some of these foods are not going to be familiar, and that’s okay, but you’re never going to get acquainted if you don’t start somewhere. Ask away! 
  2. Pick one or two new foods at a time. Buying too much at one time might overwhelm you and lead to food waste.
  3. Buy vegetables.If cost is a concern, start with vegetables. Since fruits are more perishable and harder to transport, they are usually more expensive. Vegetables, on the other hand, are hardier.
  4. The more asymmetrical, the better!Gertrude Stein declared “there are no straight lines in nature.” Usually, the less perfect a fruit/vegetable looks, the better it is for you. Consider the funky shapes of heirloom tomatoes!

How do farmers’ markets make your life better?

Pictured: Local farmers’ market in Ansouis, France. 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr

Pino Rose D. Foodist: Using real food and real science to lose weight without dieting. Haper One. 2013. 
Why buy local? 10 Reasons to Buy Local Food. Grow NYC. 
Top 10 Reasons to Shop at a Farmers Market. Farmers Market. Nutrition.Gov. 

Edited by TCabrarr