Ideas for fun, healthy holiday gifts that don’t scream, ‘You’re fat!’

December 10, 2013 by  
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•How about an annual pass to Indiana’s state parks? A 2014 Indiana State Park Entrance Permit costs $40 (or $20 if you’re buying it for someone age 65 or older). A $99 holiday gift pack includes an annual permit, a subscription to Outdoor Indiana magazine and a $70 gift card for use at a state park inn. Check out the link to Mother Nature’s Mercantile at

•For the geeks in your life whose girth expands with each hour on the computer, try The Oatmeal — not the food, but the comic. Get them hooked on Oatmeal, and eventually they’ll discover that cartoonist Matthew Inman isn’t an enormous drooling blob (as he tends to portray himself), but a serious ultramarathoner.

By then, they won’t hold it against him, because he constantly frets about reverting to his former life as a slob who stows an emergency supply of ranch dressing on his tool belt. Warning: Inman’s humor can be on the raunchy side; check out before ordering any of his books.)

•You’d think a product called Moose Mitts might be some kind of gag gift, but freezing hands are no joke to winter cyclists. These oversized, antler-shaped “mittens” attach to your handle bars; you stick your gloved hands inside to protect them from the wind and elements.

They’re goofy enough that even casual cyclists might be inclined to extend their riding season. Prices range from $70 to $95, with different styles for road and mountain bikes. Ships free from, the web site of the Plymouth, Mich., bike shop that makes them by hand.

•At first glance, Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Chef” looks like a decadent diner’s dream. (One photo spread depicts an eating duel featuring the Vermonster, a 14,000-calorie, 20-scoop Ben and Jerry’s sundae with four bananas, three cookies, a brownie and a boatload of toppings.)

But Ferriss is on a lifelong mission to tap the limits of human potential, and this book — the follow-up to “The 4-Hour Work Week” and “The 4-Hour Body” — is really an undercover food and fitness manifesto. Here, he’s on a quest to become a gourmet chef in the minimum amount of time possible. Recipes are geared toward his slow carb diet, and there’s lots of “extras” — ranging from survivalist living tips to how to memorize a deck of cards in 60 seconds — packed inside. ($21 on

• By now, even casual joggers have likely read — or at least heard of — Christopher MacDougall’s natural running manifesto, “Born to Run.” If so, they’ll be amused by a pair of running sandals made by Barefoot Ted, a character in the book who designed his minimalist footwear with the help of the Tarahumara Indians featured in the story. The sandals ($65-$100 at are supposed to be comfy for walking and other activities as well.

•One of the fringe benefits of getting serious about fitness is that a lot of high-energy “performance” food looks and tastes an awful lot like junk food — only healthier. But whereas a fancy plate of fudge may incite binging, a gift basket of funky energy bars like Honey Stingers and Wired Waffles (caffeinated wafers) promote action. Both can be found on

•Prefer to have someone else assemble that gift basket? Try Bike Loot, a monthly shipment of half a dozen cycling-related products. A six-month subscription is currently on sale for $54, plus shipping, at

•Finally, “The Care and Feeding of an Almost Adult,” by local dietitian Crawford, makes a great stocking stuffer for college students, with easy recipes and simple ingredients. ($10.44 on

Tanya Isch Caylor, a News-Sentinel copy editor, blogs on diet and fitness at This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.

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