December 10 2013

12 Holiday Gifts for Your Primal Tribe

By Mark Sisson

Special giftI’d usually make a point to talk about the “true meaning” of Christmas or whatever holiday you’re celebrating in the intro before launching into a huge commercial post about things you should buy this holiday season, but not this time. The following gifts are not pointless consumerist pap that your giftees will enjoy for a day or two until the newness wears off and they move on to the next thing to spend their money on. These are useful gifts. Gifts that enhance life, that further our relationships, that expand our culinary horizons, that compel us to go out and experience the world. There’s no shame in celebrating the holidays in this manner, because these are good gifts given out of love, fellowship, and friendship – all of which embody the true meaning of the season.

That said, let’s get to the gifts!

For the Outdoorsman Who Has to Stop Himself From Plunging Face-first Into Streams and Drinking Deeply

LifeStrawAnytime I’m in the presence of a crystal clear mountain stream, I think about how delicious it must taste. I want to drink from it, and deeply. But I do not, because I likely haven’t the constitution to resist and repel the microorganisms that reside in most every natural source of fresh water. If it were 20,000 years ago, I’d probably be equipped to handle the microbial load. It’s not, so I’m not. Thankfully, a little inexpensive contraption called the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter allows you to drink deeply – about 1000 liters-deep – from fresh water sources. Without using iodine, chlorine, or other disinfectant chemicals, the LifeStraw removes a minimum of 99.999% of waterborne bacteria and a minimum of 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites from water. NGOs engaged in humanitarian relief in countries with severely contaminated water use it, so it’s probably pretty effective on your average back country trek through streams that aren’t coursing with human feces. Note: it doesn’t filter out minerals. This can be good, if you’re getting magnesium, calcium, and other trace minerals modern drinking water is largely missing, but it can also be bad if you’re drinking from a stream issuing forth from an abandoned mercury mine.

For the Primal Chef

Veggie PeelerMaking Primal-friendly noodles from veggies is hard work. Unless you use the spaghetti squash, which if you bake it right kind of does the work for you. Zucchini, though? Other types of squash? Apples? Sweet potatoes? Carrots? Good luck. You try making noodles from Japanese sweet potatoes with only a knife and I’ll sit back and chuckle in your general direction. If there were a way to make veggie noodles without hours of backbreaking, tedious labor, it would make it way easier to enjoy Primal pasta sauces. Also, kids love things in noodle form; converting vegetables into noodles will help kids eat more vegetables. Anyway, this is a roundabout way of saying that there actually is an affordable, effective kitchen tool for making noodles out of vegetables: the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer.

For the Outdoorsman Who’s Also a Primal Chef

Wood Burning StoveCamping and backpacking are great and fun ways to commune with nature and realign yourself and your spirit – but the food’s terrible. People eating a standard American diet don’t find it too off-putting because it means they get to get delicious garbage like cold pop tarts, spam, instant oatmeal, and entire trays of Svenhard’s pastries. We Primals aren’t so lucky. Freeze-dried peas and carrots that you have to reconstitute with water. Endless jerky (I love jerky, but c’mon). Cans of sardines, tuna, and/or salmon (again, I love canned fish, but a man has a breaking point). Forget that. With the BioLite Wood Burning Campstove, a few handfuls of kindling that you found while scrounging around the campsite can heat food, cook real meals, and boil water (or bone broth from the half dozen chipmunks you “found”). It even includes a USB charger that yes, runs on sticks and twigs.

For the Salad Fan

VejibagsI’m sure we’d all love to be able to pluck fresh greens from our bountiful garden on demand, or walk to the local market for veggies every day around 10 “like they do in Europe.” In reality, most people have to rush over to the market sometime after work, fight crowds, wrestle for the last bag of kale with an older woman with surprisingly strong arms, and buy enough to last the week – because there’s no way we’re gonna make it back anytime soon. That’s a fine solution when you’re buying meat, root vegetables, and other foods that last awhile, but spinach, baby greens, romaine, and other less hearty leafy green vegetables tend to start wilting immediately upon arrival in your fridge. That’s the worst. Nothing worse than some slimy lettuce. The Vejibag, which we use extensively on the Primal Blueprint Luxury Retreats to prevent sliming, is almost magic. You make it a little damp, put just about any vegetable in there – leafy greens, salad makings, broccoli, cabbage, and the list goes on – and the bag will actually make the greens crisper than when they started. An essential tool for any salad fan out there.

For the Shoe Addict

SocksIt’s often not enough for chronic shoe wearers to go barefoot some of the time. If they keep their toes shoved into a tiny space fit for two, maybe three toes max during normal office hours, simply removing the shoes won’t restore the ancestral toe environment. You need to fight back. In order to counteract the toe compression, your toes require active expansion. You could fill the spaces between your toes with tightly packed cotton balls or rolled up documents, or you could wear Happy Feet Foot Alignment Socks. Foot Alignment Socks have built-in toe dividers that “reverse the effect of wearing narrow shoes.” If you or someone you know has feet like look like the “before” picture in this post, Happy Feet Foot Alignment Socks might make the feet happy.

For the Little One

Quality timeI’m going to be a bit contrarian and maybe a little cheesy here and suggest that the most Primal gift you can give your kid (or nephew/niece, whatever the relationship may be) is your attention. Your immediate, full, undivided, unadulterated attention. Be present when you’re with them. This kid is going to get some tangible presents regardless, maybe even from you, so the Primal “non-gift” of simply being there with them in the moment(s) will be appreciated. Read a book. Throw a ball. Roughhouse. Go outside and dig around in the garden or the woods for bugs (heck, if you want to give a cool tangible gift, try a bug collecting kit!). Tell jokes. Watch A Christmas Story. Enjoy your time together.

For the Laptop Jockey Who Understands the Dangers of Sitting but Doesn’t Want to Stand All Day

MogoYou might recall my “leaning workstation” as seen in the How-to: Standup and Mobile Workstations video from a couple months ago, the Locus Seat from Focal. It’s sort of a human kickstand that allows me to alternate between leaning and standing. Leaning is kind of like sitting in that it takes the load off, just without shortening your hip flexors and turning your glutes into a amorphous gelatinous blobs. I love it. If you liked the look of it and want something similar, might I suggest the Mogo? It’s also made by Focal, and it’s of a similar design and also allows you to lean and stand, but it’s less expensive and more mobile, weighing just over 2 pounds and collapsing for easy storage. That means you can take it along with you to the office, the cafe, the great outdoors (laptop on a stump, anyone?), or when you travel, and get strange looks and lots of questions while you get work done.

For the Workaholic

PrimalConTime off from active, engaged work is essential for a happy, healthy human being. There is simply no getting around that fact. If you know a workaholic – and modern America is rife with them – you know someone that needs a vacation. But not just any vacation. Weekend getaways up the coast and cute bed and breakfasts won’t cut it. For true workaholics putting in fifty, sixty hour weeks, checking email on the weekends and in bed, and never quite able to engage with actual, everyday life because his or her head’s always got one foot in the office, hardcore vacation is required. Next March, in Tulum, Mexico, we’ll be holding a fantastic, all-inclusive PrimalCon at one of Mexico’s premier resorts. Join me, Robb Wolf, and assorted Primal health and fitness experts for the vacation of a lifetime! Or, if Tulum’s not quite your bag, check out the fifth annual PrimalCon Oxnard in late September. Sun, fun, sand, and your Primal tribe. Only downside is you won’t get to practice your Spanish in Oxnard.

For the Sleep Deprived

DefinityWe all know how much blue light (from LED screens, light bulbs, electronic devices, and the atmosphere) can interfere with normal melatonin production and keep us from falling asleep. Proper sleep and normal circadian rhythm is vital for health and wellness. NASA knows too, which is why they asked a company called Definity Digital to design an LED bulb that removes most of blue light and allows melatonin to be released. The coolest part of all is that the light still looks white, so you can read, cook, and do just about anything else that requires adequate lighting without negatively impacting your circadian rhythm. Win win. The light is called Good Night, fits standard sockets, lasts longer than most other bulbs, and works with dimmers.

For the Coffee Addict

LightLet me get this off my chest: there is nothing wrong, and many things right, with coffee. I drink it myself, daily. But addiction is a bad thing, and when you’re measuring your coffee intake in pots, when you get a headache from even thinking about decaf, you’re probably addicted and you may want to reduce your intake of coffee. Luckily, there are other ways to increase focus, attention, mental acuity, and boost productivity. No, not methamphetamine. Blue light. As I wrote about a few weeks ago, blue light has been shown to increase wakefulness and boost cognitive function. It doesn’t even have to replace coffee; blue light and coffee are actually quite synergistic. That’s why I’ve chosen the Syrcadian Blue SB-1000 SAD Light Therapy device, which can be used against seasonal affective disorder or as a cognitive enhancer. You can even attach it to your car and get your dose of blue light on the morning commute.

For the Brown Bagger

LunchBotsThe one major downside of going Primal is that packing your lunch for work or school can be an ordeal. It takes planning and special containers. You can’t just fill a sandwich bag with pot roast, or slop some of your homemade coconut soup into a lunchbox. No, your leftovers are often saucy, drippy, and require structure and a seal that won’t fail. You could go the glass tupperware route, but glass is heavy. Plastic solves that problem, but introduces potentially estrogenic compounds to your food. Enter LunchBots – a line of stainless steel receptacles for your food. Depending on which model you want, LunchBots can protect the structure of your lunch, keeps it from leaking out, keep food hot or cold, and is totally non-reactive. No plastic compounds, no BPA, no weird metallic or plastic-y taste worming its way into your meal.

For Anyone

Box SetFor everyone and anyone else, we’ve got the perfect compendium of all the most important Primal literature, including The Primal Blueprint, The Primal ConnectionThe Primal Blueprint Cookbook, The Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals, and Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings & Toppings. With The Primal Blueprint Box Set, you get everything you or a loved one needs to get up to speed on all things Primal. Order a box set by Dec. 18 and you’ll save 20% off the retail price, and get free apparel, a free poster, a free shopping list and pen, and free Grok decal as detailed in this post.

And tomorrow, Denise Minger’s long-awaited book Death by Food Pyramid will be released. It makes a great gift, so be sure to check back tomorrow to pick up a copy or two and get some free goodies, including discount coupon codes for the Vejibag and Mogo gifts described above!

Looking for more gift ideas? I’ve been doing these posts on an annual basis, so check out these for even more primal present inspiration:

What about you, folks? What Primal gifts are you currently coveting? What are you giving out this year? Let us know in the comment section!

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43 thoughts on “12 Holiday Gifts for Your Primal Tribe”

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  1. Nevermind my friends and family – this list contains the 2 things I want to buy myself next – alignment socks and a spiral veggie slicer!

    Love the kid suggestion – not cheesy at all.

  2. A favorite small gift to bring for dinner parties and such is a quality sea salt. People who have always used just regular table salt are often blown away by how sprinkling some good sea salt on the food improves the taste of almost anything. Voilá – a nice gift that instantly improves the receiver’s life forever 🙂

    1. That’s a great idea! Though it does remind me of a hilarious episode of Corner Gas … is that just a Canadian thing?

      Emma: Lacey’s bumped us up to a new wine bracket. She…She’s opened our eyes to a whole new world.
      Oscar: I hate having my eyes opened!
      Emma: I wish we were back in the rut. I liked the rut.
      Oscar: Change is bad.

  3. I need to make my Christmas list. I wish you guys offered CEU’s for healthcare professionals at Primal Con 🙁

  4. Mark–the kid gift is perfect. Even at the time, i prized the time my grandmother spent with me over any material gift (although those were appreciated as well.) Kids, i feel, get so little of this undivided attention these days. And with technology dividing their attention, this seems like the perfect gift for so many reasons.

    1. Adult undivided attention is terrific for kids! My question is what else are parents doing? I understand different circumstances necessitate different opportunities, but seriously; undivided attention for the kids needs to be an as much as possible deal.

  5. Great gift ideas, Mark. So excited for Denise’s book release tomorrow. That’s what I’m giving to everyone this year!

    1. Yes, the Lifestraw is awesome. Woulda saved me about 22 bouts of Moctezuma’s Revenge during my travels…Gotta get me this.

  6. Love my spiral veggie slicer! The bio lite looks really neat too. I thought I was finished shopping for Christmas but now I’m inspired to check out the new goodies! The PrimalCon is a dream but it’s not going to happen this time. I’ll just have to create my own little Grokfest in New Orleans to make up for it!

    But the best present on the post is definitely for the kiddos. They seem to need that type of present above all the others! 🙂

  7. I like and really need the socks and mogo. But the socks don’t come in my size – 13 wide – and the Mogo is pricey. 🙁 Will look for options.

    1. I just called the socks company because I was in the same dilemma and the lady I spoke with assured me that the Charcoal ones are made larger, so they’ll accommodate a size 13 foot.

  8. I love my jelly yoga toes, but my biggest complaint is that my feet get cold. Those Happy Toes should fix that, and I actually can think of someone on the list who should receive them, too!

    As for that blue light gizmo, I desperately need one of those!!

  9. Thanks, these are some great ideas. I’m ordering the Life Straw for my son who loves to camp in remote places.

  10. The Biolite Wood Stove would be terrific as an addition to an emergency supply cache if you live in hurricane or tornado-prone areas. For me, it would be handy, because I already have a fireplace with lots of firewood stacked and ready.

    Trouble is, the fireplace has an electric blower motor, so is inoperable with no electricity. The heat ends up going right up the chimney without it!

    Thinking back to Hurricane Sandy and electricity-deprived NYers frantic to charge their cellphones, they could have had one of these (still can), taken it down to Central Park, burnt fallen limbs and CHARGED THEIR OWN CELLPHONES! Yes, there are car chargers, but what do you do if you don’t own a car?

    If going out to the woods, a gas generator is a wee bit heavy and clunky to haul around just for a little electric convenience, so this stove may come in handy for serious camping. Or, the homeless with phones and/or laptops can now charge them, cook, and keep warm while burning tree litter.

  11. On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…..Five Golden Egg Yolks!…..etc….

  12. A ticket to PrimalCon would be an amazing present without a doubt.

    I do plan on getting the book set for my mom, as I think that the gift of health that comes along with the Primal lifestyle would be the best gift imaginable.

  13. Great list! I so want a spiralizer, and whenever we go camping, we always bring our life straw 🙂

  14. $100 for a stick up my bum? No thanks, I’ll just stand! 🙂

  15. Oh dear – stop tempting me, I’m already playing the “one present for them, one present for me” game!
    The Mogo looks like a shooting stick to me. I suggest accessorising with tweed knickerbockers, a waistcoat and a flat cap a la the Royal Family/Downton Abbey. 😉

  16. Oh hey, those veggie bags… I could MAKE those. It’s just organic french terry… For those of us without a $150 budget to even spend on all christmas presents, much less one, that looks like a good idea.

  17. The light bulb and water filter are cool but all you need is a damp paper towel or tea towel over a bowl of lettuce to get the same result as the salad bag, would still make a good gift I guess.

  18. I love Lunchbots in theory, but I ordered the Uno and found it way too small for my lunchtime salads. Can anyone recommend a similar brand with bigger container options? I’m currently using glass containers, but they’re heavy and obviously breakable.

  19. Searching for bugs with your kid…great.
    Eating the bugs with your kid…priceless!

  20. That Spiralizer really looks like a neat gadget, and I’ve seen youtube cooking vids using them. I seriously considered getting one; however, the last thing I needed was another kitchen appliance — I’m really trying to downsize not add to all the stuff I already have.

    So I settled for a Jullienne peeler which probably isn’t quite as versatile as the Spiralizer (and somewhat cheaper), but does a great job and is small enough to fit in one of my kitchen drawers without a problem.

    That said, my Jullienne peeler is one of the best little gizmos I’ve ever bought so the concept is definitely a “go” especially if you’re trying to avoid the CW wheat-based pastas. A peeler would be small enough to make a great stocking stuffer.

    Either way – consider a veggie “noodle” maker and if in doubt, watch some youtube videos and see how versatile the concept is either with a Spiralizer or a hand-held peeler.

    1. I have both, & they’re great– we use the spiralizer for real noodle-like vegs, wide as well as spaghetti-like, & the peeler for finer shreds. (But maybe there are coarser ones out there.) It’s true that the julienne tool fits easily in the drawer while the spiralizer is a cabinet-hog. Depends on how much you like veggie noodles, & how much room you have. Both are a huge asset to the grain-free kitchen!

  21. we use the lunch bots for the kiddo’s lunchbox. super easy to clean and we can sleep at night knowing they are safe.

  22. I got one of those spiral slicers this year and it has been such a life saver! Best invention ever for sure.

  23. Sorry but the Sawyer Squeeze is better than the life straw and that stove is ridiculous. You can make a clean-burning alcohol stove out of an aluminum drink can and if you really want to use wood, you can just make a tiny stick fire. If you need to recharge your electronics on the trail, you’re better off with a solar charger.

  24. The veggie bags are awfully pricey. I can (and have!) made them myself for about a twentieth of the cost……

  25. The veggie spiral slicer is fabulous! Root veggie noodles pick up the flavor of the sauce and are a tasty substitute for the wheat version.

  26. The Biolite stove seems like a good idea, but it is not as practical as it seems. First, it is overly complex. There are other wood gas stoves that work about as well, without the weight or complexity of a fan. (See the Solo Stove, Bush Buddy, etc.)

    Second, as a charging device, it leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the power extracted goes to the fan. Only excess power can be used to charge something, and you have to keep feeding it continually for hours to get a charge on a smartphone.

    For the weight and complexity, I will take a Solo Stove, plus a charger that uses AA batteries, plus a pile of batteries, and I will still save money and weight.