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Experts’ Food, Fitness & Fiction Holiday Gift Picks

With the holiday season in full swing, I decided to turn to a discriminating and dynamic group of nutrition and fitness experts and authors to share what’s on their food-, fitness-, and fiction-related gift wish lists.

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or simply want some (mostly healthy) gift ideas for yourself, these lists are sure to inspire.

Food: I would love a bottle of aged balsamic vinegar since I just finished the one on purchased on a trip to Italy last year. It is a real splurge at about $75 to $200 for about 3 ounces, but just a light drizzle of it transforms roasted vegetables, fresh fruits and cheeses.

Fitness: I new yoga outfit—pants, a top and a cozy sweatshirt would be nice—something I can wear to class and still feel good in for traipsing around town doing errands.

Fiction: The best gift for me would be a chunk of time to watch the shows I have on DVD and read the books I have by my bedside already! I think that is a gift I will give myself!

~Ellie Krieger, MS, RDN, TV personality and award winning cookbook author


Food: Anyone who knows me knows my favorite food: popcorn. Preferably plain, but I do like caramel and also the caramel/cheese mix from Garrett Popcorn Shops. I eat popcorn year-round, but my favorite holiday food may just be Williams-Sonoma’s Peppermint Bark, a very good first runner-up.

Fitness: I really, really want a hula hoop. I studied belly dance for years, and I’m thinking I might just be excellent at hooping. And here in California, I can hoop outside all year!

Fiction: I’m longing for The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Sam and Dean Winchester by Nicholas Knight and Eric Kripke because, of course, I’m a rabid fangirl. I’m also itching to read Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart, which had me at the cover.

~Jennifer Niven*, author of All the Bright Places 


Food: I tried a wine at a restaurant that I fell in love with but is hard to find. I’m a dry, crisp, white wine girl and Tablelands Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is perfect!

Fitness: A Garmin Foreunner 630. At $399, this is the Mac Daddy of GPS sport tracking.

Fiction: The book H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.

~Amie Hoff, President of Hoff Fitness




Food: I am an absolute nut butter junkie, so I would love this almond butter trio from Solstice Canyon. I would also love the new Seasonal Jewish Kitchen by Amelia Saltsman who is a local LA cookbook author whose first book I loved.

Fitness: My schedule is so crazy that it’s hard for me to get to the gym before work in the morning. It would be great to do a quick, but strong workout at home. The Body Shred DVD series by Jillian Michaels looks great. And new workout wear by Beyond Yoga or Lululemon is always a good gift for me since it keeps me motivated to get out and exercise.

Fiction: People keep telling me I would love the Downton Abbey Series. This holiday season would be the perfect time for me to binge-watch every season.

~Pamela Salzman, natural foods cooking instructor


Food: Fresh fruit from Harry & David. We generally get some of their produce as a gift each year, and it’s a reminder of how good fresh fruit can be. Pears that melt in our mouth, with juice running down your chin; mildly sweet, deeply fragrant grapefruits with just the right amount of bracing astringency…so good! Waiting for the UPS truck…

Fitness: A bitless bridle for my horse. Although that may be a gift from me to him. I love riding, and I love my horse, and am always looking for new ways to cultivate the unique partnership (it makes me think of the bond, ‘Tsaheylu’ in avatar. A bit helps control a horse, but by using a leverage in the back of their mouth that is uncomfortable for them. The same can be achieved with more unanced communication, and no bit. So that’s my item.

Fiction: Hmmm…well, I thoroughly enjoyed most of the recent Mission Impossible movie, Rogue Nation, so I suppose I really should have that DVD…

~David Katz, MD, MPH, author of Disease Proof and founder of True Health Initiative


Food: My Nourish Snacks Holiday gift box! Haha, yes this is a #shamelessplug, but I’m so proud of my delicious treats that I just had to mention them. The holiday box comes packed with an assortment of snacks—from dark chocolate granola bites to half-popped corn kernels dusted with sea salt. Although I’ll send many of these as gifts, I plan to save some for myself this holiday season.

Fitness: A few friends have been raving about Nike’s new Get Fit Kits, which are perfect to help you get moving every day. The kits are a one-stop-shop with gear, workout ideas, and play lists that make it easy to stay motivated no matter what. Nice deal.

Fiction: My all-time favorite show is Friday Night Lights. I love it so much that I’m ready to binge watch it again from start to finish! This box DVD set is at the top of my list.

~Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, NBC’s TODAY Show, Nutrition & Health Expert


Food: I love to give and receive gifts that inspire cooking, one of the keys to better health. My go-to cooking method for everything from chicken and fish to veggies is roasting, and a good roasting pan is both necessary and welcome. Le Creuset’s Signature Roaster comes in several sizes and fun colors to make it a bit more personal. If anyone’s asking, I’ll take the large size in the Truffle color, please.

Fitness: One of my favorite fitness tools at the gym these days is the Ab Dolly, and I’d really enjoy it for home use. It’s so versatile and effective—you haven’t planked until you’ve planked with an Ab Dolly!—and it stores easily under a bed.

Fiction: I’ve been enjoying Isabel Allende’s The Japanese Lover and would love some of her other works, including The House of the Spirits. Allende is one of my favorite storytellers, and I can’t think of a better way to relax over the holidays than by getting lost in her words.

~Claudia Zapata, MS, RD, creator of The Diplomacy DietTM


Food: I would love a butter dish. Butter is one of my favorite ways to make vegetables taste delicious. I eat so many more vegetables when I have a little butter to flavor them.

Fitness: The Burst! Workout book. Who doesn’t have 10 minutes to commit to their physical (and mental) health?!

Fiction: It’s a toss up between All the Light We Cannot See and The Hunger Games. Readers: which one?

~Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, HFS, creator of The Feel Great Guide


Food: I would love a subscription to Real Simple magazine. It’s been years since I’ve subscribed to them, and now that I’m a new mom with limited time (especially to cook), I’m eager for their simple, beautiful recipes.

Fitness: A new class pass to my favorite pilates studio, Henry Street Pilates, in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. The owner, Jan Phillips, is the reason I go to HSP. She’s fun, spunky, incredibly entertaining and really knows her stuff. She kept me in shape throughout my pregnancy and has basically eradicated my back pain. AND she’s opening a gorgeous new studio complete with coffee bar. What’s not to love?

Fiction: Sadly, it won’t be available for many months yet, but I am dying to see the Gilmore Girls reboot! Perhaps a bit closer, tickets to the new Star Wars.

~Jennifer Miller, journalist and author of The Heart You Carry Home


Food: I would be happy with anything from Mud Australia. They make gorgeous ceramics in dreamy colors that are perfect for Instagramming all of my recipes!

Fitness: I would love a Slam Ball. They are great not only for improving core and upper body strength, but they’re also excellent for getting your frustrations out! My hubby has a 30 pounder, but I’d like a 15 pound one.

Fiction: I want the audio version of Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning. He is such an amazing storyteller and really creates the fine line between the everyday and the spine tingling.

~Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, author of Eating In Color


Food: Culinary Tour throughout Asia….I have wanted to do this since writing The Tropical Diet in 2004, based on my work launching the Spa Cuisine Program at Sandal’s resorts in the Caribbean. One of the expert contributors for the book Chris Rollins was a Tropical Edible plant expert for the Fruit & Spice Park in Miami, Florida (Homestead) and used to take groups on these culinary education immersion tours until he retired…waiting for him to come back for a guest appearance so I can sign up!

Fitness: A kayak. I’ve been wanting one to add to my morning workout.

Fiction: I would like apple TV so I can watch all my favorite series, all channels, on demand all the time.

~Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, LMHC, FAND, author of Legally Lean: Sports Nutrition Strategies for Optimal Health & Performance


Food: I really enjoy soup and stews in the winter but usually don’t have the patience to make them from scratch; I feel an All-Clad Slow-Cooker would make it so much easier to do, that I would actually do it.

Fitness: I always want new yoga clothes; there’s something about a new pair of Noli leggings from JuJa Active that gets me motivated to show up at class.

Fiction: I have a lot of travel coming up so would love two books (I do my best reading on a plane), one recommended by Elisa, All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, and another recommended by my mom, Follow Your Home by Mark Edwards.

~Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, author of The Small Change Diet


Food: I recently sent some gifts to colleagues who were very instrumental in the success of a recent project. I bought them from Etsy.  They are beautiful hand engraved wooden cutting boards. I thought they would be so appropriate for these two individuals as they like to cook and display items in their kitchens. They told me how very much they loved them and will think about me every time they look at them! Well, the boards are so gorgeous, now I want one for myself! I don’t usually chop on wood, but one of these boards would be beautiful hanging in my kitchen!

Fitness: On a very recent press trip, another writer was so enthralled by her Fitbit and regaled us all in funny tales about her adventures in using one. Humorous stories aside, she really convinced me to have one. Stubborn that I know how active I am, she was so convincing that now I’d like one wrapped up in pretty paper please!

Fiction: Although I’ve seen each episode at least twice, I’d love to have the entire Downton Abbey Series at my fingertips. You never know when you won’t be able to access it any longer from the TV or even in Hulu or other video streaming services. I’d like the old-fashioned boxed set, if nothing else to show people who come to my home that I’ve got “some” class!

~Robyn Webb, MS, cookbook author and culinary instuctor


Food: I always request grapefruits and oranges from my aunt who winters in Florida—and she always delivers!

Fitness: I asked for new yoga apparel from my mother in law—the old stuff is sadly worn and I think nicer gear will be a good motivator!

Fiction: I feel behind on my adult book reading (I read so much YA!) so I’ve requested Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies and Ta Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me.

~Melissa Walker, freelance writer and author of Ashes to Ashes


Food: I would like a subscription to the Fruit of the Month Club.  This way, every month Mother Nature’s sweet finest is delivered to my door.

Fitness: I want LuLuLemon pants. It appears that I am the only person on earth that doesn’t have a pair.  Size small if you are in gifting mood.

Fiction: I would love a monthly audiobook subscription. I don’t have a lot of time in my life right now to devote to pleasure reading but I would love to walk and read (well, actually walk AND listen to great books. This would allow me to keep my body AND mind in shape, simultaneously. Unfortunately, at this place in my life, it’s all about time management.

~Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, Clinical Associate Professor, Boston University


Food: My food-related gift would be to receive the gift of someone volunteering to be my sous-chef! Although sometimes chopping, cutting and slicing food is like therapy, it’s so much nicer when someone else is performing those tasks and keeping me company while I create a dish for the family to enjoy together.

Fitness: As a mom of three boys, I was never much of a video game fan. But my holidays came early this year when hubby bought me a video game! I’ve always loved to dance but X-box’s Dance Central Spotlight is like no other! The music is awesome and mastering the dance moves becomes an exciting challenge. This proves that if getting fit is also fun, you’ll want to find a way to move your body every day!

Fiction: Your question brought me back to the most meaningful children’s fiction books that I could remember. I’d like to receive a new copy of The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone—it’s a book that teaches such an important lesson for children…and adults! You reap what you sow is the theme—one that follows you throughout your life.

~Bonnie Taub Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It


Food: I love the spiralized vegetable trend for making lighter, veggie-based pasta alternatives so I’d really like a Spiralizer to make my own spiralized veggies.

Fitness: I’ve had a Jawbone forever, and I love it, but I really want to upgrade to a new fitness tracker that has a display so I can time my runs. I’ve been hinting to my husband about the Fitbit ChargeHR a lot!

Fiction: A subscription to the Showtime app so I can stream shows like Homeland on my iPad or computer any time, anywhere.

~Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life


Food: A cast iron skillet. It’s a pan I’ve wanted in my kitchen for a long time, but I’ve never purchased one. I’m convinced that when seasoned properly, it can be the workhorse of the kitchen. I’d also love a cold brew coffee carafe.  Since breaking up with diet soda, I’ve developed a great relationship with cold brew coffee. While I enjoy ordering my cold brew coffee from my local coffee shop, I’d love to make it at home in 2016.

Fitness: New shoes. My Dansko clogs have logged many hours in the kitchen over the years. It’s time for a new pair to soothe my aching feet! Anyone who is on their feet for long periods of time will benefit from a new pair of shoes. I’m also finally ready for a Fitbit—and one that does it all—with a large face and large print, too. I’d also like to request a face-to-face tutorial on how to use it properly.

Fiction: This is purely a guilty pleasure…I’d love the complete series of Will and Grace and The Office!!! 

 ~Robin Plotkin, MS, RD, culinary and nutrition expert


Food: Move over coffee & tea….this hot lemon water mug is perfect for my personal obsession with hot lemon water. I had this mug specially designed for us. Give it with a bag of lemons!

Fitness: OK, so the phone banjee is a modern take on a wrist wallet. But I can use it on jogs to hold my phone, cash & keys…there’s even a perfect hole for ear buds.

Fiction: A subscription to Audible since I like books on tape better than reading.

~Dawn Jackson-Blatner, RDN, CSSD, LDN, author of The Flexitarian Diet

*Check out my interview with Jennifer Niven here.

What’s on your holiday wish list?

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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books and is currently working on her first novel. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

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