Real Plans Meal Plans

Caught off guard by the holiday season? Believe it or not, it’s already time to get gifty again! But don’t fret: armed with my holiday gift guide, you’ll find stuff that fits both your budget and your pals’ tastes—that is, if they like the exact same things I do. As in years past, I’ve compiled a few things that have delighted me this year. (If you’re curious, you can also check out my previous gift guides for 2013, 2014, and 2015, too—virtually all of my previously recommended items still spark joy in my house!)

Except for some of the Paleo cookbooks on this year’s list (which I received from publishers as review copies), I personally bought every single item on my list after doing exhaustive research. After all, if it’s not something worth spending my own money on, I shouldn’t be recommending it. (Full disclosure: Although I’m not paid to endorse any of the stuff in this gift guide, if you follow my affiliate links to purchase them, I do get a small percentage as a commission without costing you an extra penny.)

Ready to lighten your wallet?

For Kitchen Gadget Enthusiasts:

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 by Michelle Tam

Instant Pot IP-DUO Plus60 : Instant Pot has been on my holiday gift guide for three years in a row ’cause more than any other appliance, it’s the item I gift to loved ones. I know I sound like a broken record, but the Instant Pot will change your life and streamline the process of getting tasty hot food in your craw. There’s a new 8-quart version available, but my favorite is the brand new 9-in-1, 6-quart version. (Psst: i you already have an Instant Pot but are intimidated by it, take it out of the box and use it! I’ve got a ton of step-by-step recipes on my site that will show you the light.)

ThermoPop: I’m partial to the Thermapen because it truly is the most accurate and quickest reading meat thermometer in the world, but it costs close to $100. Luckily, the Thermapen’s mom and dad just popped out a more affordable younger sibling, the ThermoPop! This lollipop-lookalike is rated #1 by Cook’s Illustrated and Serious Eats, so you don’t need to worry about whether it works as well as its older brother/sister. And as I’ve said before, if you’re gonna cook meat or fish properly, you gotta invest in a great thermometer, so get one here.

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 by Michelle Tam

The Inspiralizer and Oxo Spiralizer: You know all those zany vegetable noodles you’ve seen on Pinterest? You can easily make them at home with a spiralizer. There are tons of options on the market, and I’ve owned four different brands myself. Today, I still own two veggie spiralizers because I’m torn between two models: The Inspiralizer and Oxo’s new spiralizer.

The Inspiralizer is an awesome tool created by Ali Maffucci, the spiralizing queen behind Inspiralized. If she’s gonna invent a spiralizer, you know it’s gotta be one of the best. I love that the blades are attached to the gadget, and you just twist the dial to change it. Plus, you can spiralize thinner vegetables because the central coring blade that keeps them in place has a narrower diameter than other spiralizers. The one drawback is that you can’t plop the Inspiralizer in the dishwasher.

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 by Michelle Tam

The other spiralizer I recommend is the brand new one released by Oxo. I love that it’s super easy to clean—everything is dishwasher safe—and it has a giant suction cup on the bottom that keeps it in place.

You can’t go wrong with either version if you’re looking to get some more fun-shaped vegetables in your life. (If you want a cheaper hand-held version, this Oxo spiralizer is pretty cool, too, and would make a great stocking stuffer!)

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 by Michelle Tam

Oxo Cold Brew Maker: Do you really need a gadget to make cold brew when you can use a French press or just a mason jar and a filter? Maybe not, but recently, I’ve been making a weekly batch of super strong, non-acidic cold brew in this nifty contraption. Plus, it looks cool and makes a great gift for your cold brew loving coffee snob friends.

For Your Fancy Salt-Loving Pals:

No matter what your dietary stripe, all of us can agree that fancy salts are a fab hostess gift. (Unless you’re low sodium, of course.) I’ve tried many brands of salt blends over the years but the ones I gift the most are as follows:

Jacobsen Salt Co. Gift Set: I’m obsessed with the plain and infused salts from this Oregon-based company. The sampler is a great way for people to try out all the different flavors.

Omnivore Salt: The Original and Limone are the perfect seasoning blends when I’ve got some plain protein or veggies that need a flavor boost.

Primal Palate Organic Spices: Bill and Hayley have created my favorite seasoning salts on the market. The 3-pack Signature Blends is the best way to add some spice to your meals.

My Magic Mushroom Powder: If you want to get all crafty, make my Magic Mushroom Powder and package it into cute jars for your umami-loving friends. I’ve got all the instructions (and even printable labels!) here.

For Cookbook Lovers:

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 by Michelle Tam

A bunch of Paleo OGs released follow-up cookbooks or updated editions to their seminal tomes this year:

Mark Sisson’s The New Primal Blueprint: The original Primal Blueprint was one of the first books I read when I transmogrified into a grokky Paleo eater back in 2010. I love Mark’s no-nonsense writing and inspiring testimonials, and his new edition is packed with updated information.

Diane Sanfilippo’s Practical Paleo, Second Edition: This hefty reference is one of my favorite Paleo books of all time, and I recommend it to all Paleo newbies. The second edition has more than 50 new recipes, new meal plans, and new photos. If you’re a visual learner, Diane’s clean intuitive design and infographics will delight you.

Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed Weeknights: My kitchen soul sister has a brand new cookbook that will have you getting food on the table every night in 45 minutes or less and without sacrificing your time, energy, or taste. Almost all of them are Whole30-compliant to boot!

Melissa Hartwig’s Food Freedom Forever & Whole30 Cookbook: Years ago, this lady changed my life and my relationship with food, and I will be forever grateful. Food Freedom Forever is a fantastic follow-up for anyone who has done a Whole30 and wants to figure out how to reasonably navigate the rest of his or her eating life without going bananas. If you’re doing a Whole30 in 2017, The Whole30 Cookbook will be your lifesaver. It’s packed with 150 compliant recipes (and you might even spy a few of mine in there)!

Danielle Walker’s Celebrations: I love Danielle’s beautiful new cookbook because her grain-free celebratory recipes are spot-on (as always!) and will satisfy any craving. Don’t you want Danielle holding your hand through the madness of holiday cooking?

Simone Miller’s Paleo Soups and Stews: ’Tis the season to simmer a pot of bubbling soup or stew, and Simone is the perfect person to show you how to do it. I love that her cookbook is also filled with a whole chapter on grain-free accompaniments that many Paleo eaters miss, like grain-free biscuits, rolls, and noodles.

Fed & Fit and Lexi’s Clean Kitchen: Have you checked out the debut cookbooks from these two super talented and charming bloggers, Cassy Joy Garcia and Alexis Kornblum? I love following Cassy and Lexi on their respective blogs and on social media, and their new cookbooks are just as fun as their personalities!

UPDATE: Our second cookbook, Ready or Not, won’t be out until August 2017, but you can read the deets and preorder it here for next X-mas!

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 by Michelle Tam

Non-Paleo Cookbooks That Inspire Me:

Julia Turshen’s Small Victories: Absolutely everything in Julia’s cookbook is crave-worthy and delicious. I love how she builds up an inexperienced cook’s confidence by teaching him or her to make simple, big-flavor dishes that work the very first time.

Cook’s Science by Cook’s Illustrated: Three cheers for food science! This giant tome is crammed with geeky tips and tricks to ensure the perfect dish arrives on the dinner table. It’ll appeal to all the food nerds in your life who always starts their sentences with WHY.

Food52 A New Way to Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead: This beautifully designed cookbook gives clueless cooks the tools to get home-cooked meals on the table on a daily basis. Although the recipes aren’t all Paleo, you’ll still get lots of good ideas on how to meal plan for the week ahead by cooking a bunch of flexible, foundational stuff on the weekend.

For Your Pals Who Need Help Folks with Meal-Planning:

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 by Michelle Tam

Real Plans: Know someone who loves the idea of meal planning, but wants it 100% customizable to his/her dietary preferences? Give ’em a subscription to Real Plans, the coolest online meal planner on the planet. Read about why I partnered with the team behind Real Plans and why I love them so much here. If you want to give a subscription to a pal, just provide a gift email and message when you get to the checkout screen. Real Plans will send an order confirmation to your email and login instructions to the person receiving your gift!

For the Special Introvert in Your Life:

Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones: These wireless, noise reduction headphones were an indulgent gift to myself for my birthday. As an introvert who needs to get work done in public places, these portable over-ear headphones are my lifeline. They’re always packed in my backpack because I feel lost without them.

Okay, Nomsters—that’s it for this year! Remember: it’s the thought that matters most over the holidays, so prioritize spending time, not money, with your pals. But a cool gift doesn’t hurt!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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