Lots of choose from for healthy holiday gifts

Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and author of “The Slim Down South Cookbook.” Email her at carolyn@carolynoneil.com

If the demand of buying last-minute holiday gifts is dragging you down, here are a few bright ideas in the healthy living category. If you’ve got a health nut on your gift list — or someone who wants to be one in the new year — here are some fun food and fitness suggestions. (I want the lemon juicer.)

Gifts for healthy eating

Salad spinner: Create a gift basket and fill with olive oils, mustards and vinegars.

Slow cooker: One of the best ways to tenderize tasty cuts of lean meat in stews packed with tasty vegetables.

Microplane grater: Great for zesting citrus and grating whole spices to add flavor without calories.

Specialty spices: More expensive spices like cardamom, vanilla, saffron, smoked paprika and curry powders are elegant gifts to add flavor and healthy antioxidants with no calories.

Immersion blender: Make rich and creamy textured soups and sauces from cooked vegetables without the need for much or any cream.

Lemon juicer: Another handy and inexpensive kitchen tool to add fresh, bright flavor and health to dishes. "I rely on lemons for everything including salad dressings, baking, beverages, soups, casseroles and veggie dishes," said registered dietitian Sharon Palmer, cookbook author of "Plant Powered for Life." "Just slice the lemon in half, place it in the tool, press down the top, and let the juice flow."

Local favorites: Cumming registered dietitian Marilyn Yon said, "Take advantage of local commodities available to give such as Georgia pecans and peanuts. There's even Georgia olive oil now."

Dining out gift cards: Feature restaurants with healthy menu options such as Souper Jenny, Bantam and Biddy, Seasons 52 and Metro Fresh.

Fit for fitness

Fitness sensors: One of the hottest healthy gifts this year. Wearable digital fitness bands keep track of activity, food intake, and sleep patterns.

Fitness gear: Equipment for an activity someone enjoys or wants to try such as a yoga or Pilates mat, yoga blocks, hiking poles, and sports specific workout clothes.

Healthy apps: Registered dietitian Catherine Frederico, who blogs at www.appyliving.com, said, "I would suggest an app store card gift certificate with recommendations for a few health apps such as a grocery shopping one or one for dining out."

Gifts for gardeners

Little garden kits: Small decorative containers of grow-your-own fresh herbs can sprout on winter windowsills.

Big garden help: Wrap up a new shovel, rake or garden hose and attach vegetable seed packets to plant in the spring.