I’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
Anytime 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
Making 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
Camping 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
I’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
It’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
I’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
You 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
Time 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
We all know how much blue light (from LED screens, light bulbs, electronic devices, and the atmosphere) can interfere with