Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
15 Dec

13 Holiday Gifts to Support a Primal Lifestyle

Whether you plan to herald the birth of an early Jewish radical, celebrate your Pan-African heritage and tradition, stimulate the lagging economy, perform feats of strength around the Festivus pole, observe the lighting of the menorah, or participate in Saturnalia, Yule, Modranect, or any of the other winter solstice celebrations, the latter half of December is generally devoted to gift-giving and gift-receiving. Or maybe you’re not religious at all and just use the season as an excuse to let friends and loved ones know how much they mean to you. That works just as well. Whatever your motivations for giving gifts, it’s important that they be meaningful to the recipient – that they reflect an understanding of what makes them tick. And so, since Primal living tends to be infectious, I imagine you need some good gift ideas for the meat-eating, barefooted, weight-lifting, lard-rendering grain-abstainers in your life. We do this every year, and it tends to serve two purposes: help people give Primal gifts and raise awareness of products that deserve to be seen. Today, I’ll try to do the same.

Frigidaire 5.0 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer

Yeah, yeah, upright freezers get higher marks, but they are more than double the price of chest freezers. I have this exact model myself and, though it can’t handle an entire steer, it’s big enough to house a whole lamb, a couple goats, half a pig, and a quarter cow (not all at once, of course) and small enough to fit even a studio apartment.

If someone’s been talking about finally doing that cowpooling thing for the last year and you like them well enough to spend 150 bucks, spring for the chest freezer to help them on their way.

Hunting Courses

Give the Grok in your life a real avenue toward subsistence: a hunting course. No, I’m not referring to those big game hunting expeditions where you pay money to shoot a placid, fattened kudu on some Texas acreage; I mean really learning to hunt from people who do it the right way. It looked like a blast when John Durant and Melissa McEwen did it, right? Well, chances are that your area also offers hunting courses. Just do a search for “hunting field courses [your location]” and go from there. You can even get specific by throwing in a modifier; “deer,” “boar,” and “geese” work well to narrow things down.

Meat Grinder

I hate relying on others to come up with good sausage. Most of the sausage I come across in the wild is bland and uninspired; having my own meat grinder allows me to make my own and play around with different spices. Bonus: meat grinders are perfect for blending in organ meats without alerting picky eaters. Bonus #2: meat grinders are perfect for making pet food patties. Electric grinders are the easiest to use and require little to no labor, but they generally can’t handle bone and gristle (unless you spring for a really expensive one); hand crank grinders are tougher to use, but they can handle just about anything you can throw at them, provided you include some elbow grease.

A Food Dehydrator from Excalibur

Dry your own jerky. Make your own pemmican. Ditch the store-bought, overpriced, sugar-coated berries and rancid nuts and dry your own for trail mix. Food dehydrators are incredible tools, and any Primal eater would be glad to have one. Excalibur makes the best in the business, from the top shelf 9-tray version to the starter 4-tray version. Cheaper dehydrators are out there, and you can even make your own, but we like the Excalibur for its temperature control system and reliability. I’ve used cheap dehydrators that cooked the jerky, rather than dried it, and if I was going to do that I’d just use my oven.

Fermentation Vessels

A lot of people probably read my posts on fermented food and sauerkraut, thought to themselves, “Hmm, that sounds pretty cool,” and did nothing else. Fermentation is easy to do, but the hardest part is having enough suitable fermentation vessels in your kitchen. Mason jars used to be standard in kitchens (back when people actually canned things). Not anymore though. Sandor Katz recommends using devoted ceramic fermentation crocks, maybe from Harsch or from TSM, which are expensive but worth it if your giftee is serious about fermentation. Cheaper but still viable options include mason jars; Ikea has some very affordable glassware that works well. Might as well include the tome on fermentation, Sandor Katz’s “Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods.”

Mundial’s 20-inch Chef’s Knife

Mundial makes great utilitarian knives, the type that sous-chefs and kitchen staff use day in and day out. They may not be pretty, they may not be impressive, but they get the job done, well enough that Bon Appetit dubbed their chef’s knife the “best $20 chef’s knife.” If you live in the LA area, you can buy these at Surfas in Culver City, or you can just order them online. I have several (since they’re so cheap) and can vouch for them.

Cuisinart SmartStick Blender

Blend soups, sauces, and protein drinks without getting an extra container dirty, dealing with potholders. This stick blender is metal, so there’s no chance of leaching plastic compounds into your hot food. It may not be as powerful as a VitaMix blender, but it’s a lot less expensive. Instead of forking over the cash for a single VitaMix for one person, you can treat several to the stick blender. I love my VitaMix, but I use the stick blender about as often.

Stocking Stuffers

These are low-cost gifts that, for the most part, will fit into the stocking of your choice and make a far better choice than candy and coal.

Australian Tea Tree Chewing Sticks

At just $3.65 for a pack of 100, these Tea Tree chewing sticks might not replace your current oral hygiene equipment altogether, but they’re more thorough than a toothpick and more portable than a toothbrush. Plus, they’ve been used for thousands of years and research suggests that they contain novel anti-microbial elements.

I find myself chewing on these things throughout the day. They’re a nice alternative to chewing gum, and, apparently, some people find them to be a good tool to help quite smoking.

Chalk Ball for Weight Lifting and Gymnastics

Do you know someone who’s stalling out on the deadlift? Failing to master the false-grip on his or her muscle-ups? The problem might not be technique or lack of raw strength, but a simple slippery grip.

Instead of going for the straps or the gloves, which tend to just obscure the real issue, get your fitness enthusiast a ball of weightlifting chalk. It will last for years and will nurture real grip strength development that should last even longer.

French Cooking in Ten Minutes: Adapting to the Rhythm of Modern Life

This is one of my favorites. It isn’t purely Primal, but being a French cookbook from the 1930s, its author casually tosses out recipes in which lard, butter, meat, and rich sauces figure prominently. Just ignore the calls for crusty bread and flour and focus on the techniques espoused by the author. It’s basic, it’s simple, and it gets down to the nuts and bolts of cooking. It’s also very affordable and small enough to fit a stocking (you may have to fold it up a bit). The highlight is probably the section on sauces.

Mini Thai Deodorant Stone

I spend a fair amount of time in Thailand with my family, and despite the incredible heat and oppressive humidity, the one thing I’ve noticed is that the people there are remarkably odor-free. I’m not saying they all use the Thai crystal deodorant sticks – in fact, it’s probably more of an American vegan all-natural “healthy” living thing – but the things do work (I’ve got one myself), and they’re free of aluminum and any potentially nasty chemicals, if you’re worried about that sort of thing. I use mine pretty regularly and it’s lasted well over a year, with little to no erosion. If your giftee is a lover of overpowering deodorants, this may not be the right choice; the deodorant stone is a far more subtle preventive measure and it’s not going to cover up any extant odors. Just make sure they rinse it before and after using it.

Tanka Bars

Think Buffalo candy, or low-fat pemmican. Tanka Bars are made of bison and cranberries – nothing else – and they were featured in this year’s round of contests. I prefer pemmican myself, but not everybody enjoys the beef candle texture. For them, a few Tanka bars in the stocking will be a nice surprise.

Obscure Supplement Maker

I happened to stumble across this guy’s stuff, and I gotta say – it is of the utmost quality. He’s a former marathoner who got out of the game because of nagging injuries and poor health, and now he’s selling well-researched supplements, meal replacement powders, and other Primal-related goodies. He even wrote a couple books and has apparel for sale. I checked him out and he appears to be legit, so if you’re starved for gift ideas you’ll probably be able to find something to give on his site. Also, his blog is worth visiting.

Well, I hope you feel prepared for the coming onslaught that is the holidays. Screaming kids, alluring holiday treats, bitter fights between sauced-up relatives, long drives through snow and sleet, herding together the cats that are your disparate and far-flung family members, tears, blood, sweat, and the passive-aggressive arms/gift race – all the regular stressors that make up the average holiday experience will feel a lot less stressful if you’re able to come prepared with quality Primal presents for the Groks in your life. If you’ve come up with some better ones, let us know in the comment section! Good luck and happy holidays!

Full disclosure: A few of the links above are affiliate links.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. What a great post! It’s helpful to be introduced to these things because it’s still such a non-primal world, they aren’t always easy to come by!

    Hiker…what recipe do you use for your crackers before you dehydrate them? If you don’t mind. :)

    DPT2008 wrote on December 16th, 2010
  2. For stocking stuffers, I’m giving a variety of the high cacao bars on the market. There are a lot of them now, and it is fun to taste the different ones.

    John wrote on December 16th, 2010
  3. I say that if you really loved someone you would get them a Sous Vide, but that could be my greed talking. I like the hunting lessons idea. There is also a company called Urban escapes that gives “ninja” courses for surviving in the wild, and it sounds really fun. I recommend that too!

    Tori Kean wrote on December 16th, 2010
  4. I have my grandmothers meat grinder from the 1940’s. When ever I use it I think of her and how she used to cook on a wood stove for a Baptist Camp, she did all the baking too. Awesome lady, I can’t imagine doing it. It also gives me a great arm workout, I just switch arms half way threw. Am coveting the French cookbook. Another one to add to mu collection along with yours Mark.

    Debbie wrote on December 16th, 2010
  5. +1 for de Pomaine’s book and Mark’s comments about it. Owned it long before I went Primal. It’s a great read but also, if you follow the book and cook in the manner he describes you will learn all kinds of basic kitchen skills – planning, organization, order, mis en place, etc. – that will serve you well in any circumstance. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you can pull of one of his meals in ten minutes without chaos, mess, or stress.

    Geoff wrote on December 16th, 2010
  6. I asked my husband for a pull-up bar for Christmas. He thinks I´ve gone off my rocker…

    Ulla wrote on December 16th, 2010
  7. Add this to the list for anyone you know who watches TV or games in the dark.

    Its a MIcrolite, tiny LED to illuminate your remote control in the dark since as you know remotes never work in the dark.

    Jen Kline wrote on December 16th, 2010
  8. I don’t know about you, but I would buy my wife some of the items here before buying them for any other person, as she will definitely crave for having them( ok,not the knife or the hunting course)

    Howard wrote on December 17th, 2010
  9. Call me paleo-fashioned, but I actually like the smell of (certain) people. I have not worn deoderant since high school and love the smell of sweaty pits. That’s where all the phermones live anyway. Stupid sanitized culture!

    Sarah HI wrote on December 17th, 2010
  10. How about a nice femur from the pet store to gnaw on?

    Rex wrote on December 18th, 2010
  11. at 20″, that’s no chefs knife; it’s a sword!

    LB wrote on December 18th, 2010
  12. My wife just gave me an early Primal Christmas present! It’s the best ever.

    She bought me a Power Tower complete with multi-grip chip up bar and dip a place to do dips!

    Primal_Joe wrote on December 20th, 2010
  13. I once used the Thai Deodorant Stone and made the switch to an organic line called Face Naturals. I have very sensitive skin, so the stone wasn’t a good long term choice me. Face Naturals deodorants are the best I’ve used before.

    Jenny wrote on March 2nd, 2011
  14. These are definitely some awesome ideas! You should suggest some of these (or the while blog post) to his list of gifts that will make your Paleo friend happy this Christmas >

    Jackie wrote on December 18th, 2011

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