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Gift Guide

Gifts that give experiences

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By Barbara Quinn

The Monterey County Herald

My daughter and I were talking Christmas present ideas. “I want to give you something different than just a sweater or something,” she said. (I could use a new pair of pajamas, I thought.) “Something that will be more of an experience,” she continued. (I’d like to experience new PJ’s.) “So don’t make any plans for Christmas dinner.” Oh...well...OK. This should be quite an experience.

And it did get me thinking of other Christmas presents that may create a unique experience for our special recipients. Here are a few to consider:

Choose a gift in the name of someone you love through two well-known relief organizations:

—Samaritan’s Purse, PO Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607 ( This non-profit organization ministers to needy people around the world with a variety of life-saving gifts such as: Fruit trees ($45 buys 30 seedlings that will grow to produce healthful fruit and nuts); baby chicks and ducklings ($14 provides a dozen chicks or ducks to produce eggs — nature’s storehouse of complete protein and essential nutrients); milk ($4 provides a cup of milk for a week to a poverty-stricken child.)

—Vision Trust International, PO Box 50524, Colorado Springs, CO 80949, ( provides basic food and education needs for orphaned and impoverished children around the world: $23 buys a case of powdered milk (500 cases are needed); $75 buys a sack of rice (1000 sacks are needed).

For those of us feeling a little impoverished ourselves, these books offer a great gift experience:

—”The Grocery Garden: How Busy People Can Grow Cheap Food”, by Elise Cooke (Outskirts Press, $13.95). A gardening book for people who want to eat but don’t need another hobby, says the author. It’s all about growing food with little effort and less expense. This book is a delightful read and is filled with facts that can make growing your own food a great adventure.

—”Slow Cooker Comfort Food,” by Judith Finlayson, Robert Rose ($24.95). You won’t find nutrition analyses included with these recipes but you will find 275 “soul-satisfying recipes” you can prepare in your slow cooker. I like that idea. Recipes are as diverse as Sticky Rhubarb Bread to Indian Spiced Beef with Eggplant. There is a fairly extensive chapter on Meatless Main dishes as well. Yum! This book is one in a series of slow cooker cookbooks, which also include “Healthy Slow Cooker” and “Diabetes Slow Cooker.”

—”Your First Year with Diabetes: What to do, month by month,” by Theresa Garnero, American Diabetes Association, 2008. Written by an award-winning Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) who is also an accomplished cartoonist, this book provides accurate guidance — sprinkled with just the right amount of humor — for the person with diabetes.

— “Diabetes DTOUR Diet” co-authored by yours truly and the editors of Prevention magazine, Rodale Press, 2009, ( Features daily menu plans at two calorie levels for people with diabetes or those at risk who need to lose a few pounds.

Sweaters and PJ’s are nice, too...

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at

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