My 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies

Once again I’m back to share some gift ideas for the foodies in your life! Looking back on last year’s guide I realize I’m a little behind schedule on this — I published my 2017 Healthyish Gift Guide a whole week earlier. If you’re anything like me and haven’t even started your holiday shopping yet, I know you will still find this helpful so here we are.

I would still recommend every item on my list from last year, so feel free to start there. I wanted to make sure there were no repeats, so I rounded up 10 new things that would make an excellent gift for the food-lover in your life (read: anyone who loves to try new things, loves cooking, and considers exploration of the local restaurant to be a major hobby 🙋).

It was important to me to also provide options for budgets all across the board so trust me when I say there is something for everyone. Here we go!

 Gift Guide for Foodies 2018

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I’ve shared about how much I love both this cookbook and the Netflix series. The book would be the perfect gift for someone who loves learning about the science of food and cooking. As a bonus, the illustrations throughout the book are super unique and beautiful!

Milk Frother. This is a simple tool that allows you to whip up a fancy-ish coffee or tea drink in less than two minutes. I use mine to make tea lattes in the afternoon, or to froth up some eggnog for coffee around the holidays. The one I linked is similar to mine and even has a travel case. Need I say more?

PB Love Co Nut Butters. PB Love Co is one of my favorite new food product finds of 2018! This is a Denver-local company and they make fantastic nut butters — just the right amount of added sweetness and the perfect texture. For the fellow nut butter lovers in your life, send a three-pack that includes the classic peanut, salty peanut, and cinnamon almond flavors.

Pretty Cloth Napkins. I may have a bit of food blogger bias because I love using pretty napkins in my photos, but who wouldn’t love to have a set of these for entertaining? It’s a great way to add a little flare to your table setting.

Salt & Straw Ice Cream. OMG hands-down the best ice cream I’ve ever had! I’ve been to the original S&S in Portland, plus one of their new locations in San Diego and the flavors are always so creative and delicious. If you have someone in your life that’s ice cream obsessed like me, you might consider sending them a sample pack. It would also make for an easy but special dessert if your giftee is hosting anything in the coming months.

A Healthy Buzz Weekend. In case you haven’t heard, my best friend and I are hosting a women’s health & wellness retreat in the Spring of 2019! This would make a fantastic gift for anyone who could use a weekend recharge plus guided movement, feel-good food and just an all-around great time. I’ll be leading cooking demonstrations and we are going to plan some awesome meals (all of which are included in the registration fee). We are also running a Black Friday deal and if you refer someone (or gift it!) you’ll get $99 + a surprise piece of Healthy Buzz swag.

If You Can Read This Socks. I bought these socks for a few different wine-lover friends last year (okay, I also bought a pair for myself) and they were a hit! I love stuff like this because I would never buy it for myself, but think it’s fun to sneak them on once in awhile and see if anyone notices the message on the bottom.

The Bon Appetit Gift Box. On last year’s gift guide I included a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine because I am totally obsessed with everything they create. It’s the one food magazine that I get, and I read it from front to back within days of receiving it each month. This year they are doing something different and offering a full on holiday gift box! It includes a one-year subscription, but also some other things like a tote bag, a cookie scoop with three recipes, a Stasher bag (these are so popular!) and two Skor bars. I thought this was such a fun way to gift a subscription.

Kale T-Shirt. I never get tired of seeing these shirts! I got a food pun shirt for my birthday and love it.

Wood & Marble Square Platter. This GORGEOUS marble and wood platter from C&B would make the perfect serving tray for a snack board over the holidays or any time. It’s pretty enough to keep on your countertop and totally Instagram-worthy too!

And also just as a reminder, some of these are affiliate links which means I earn some extra cash (at no difference in price for you) if you purchase any of them. Happy shopping!

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 2018 Gift Guide for Foodies

What I've Learned In Three Months of Self-Employment

Today is special because it marks three months since I took the leap from corporate office job into full-time entrepreneurship. I remember feeling so energized, and also slightly terrified, when I left work on that last day. My income potential was completely in my own hands. Also, my income potential was now completely in my own hands 😬

I have to say that the idea of coming up with an idea, then working your tail off to bring it to fruition is insanely rewarding. There’s also some not-so-great things that come with owning a business and I would be remiss if I hid the fact that I experience challenges on an almost daily basis. I wanted to write this post for anyone who is either considering making a similar move in their career, or someone who already has and feels lost and hopeless with where they are.

Here are six things I’ve learned since starting this crazy self-employment adventure.

 Leanne Ray | Denver Registered Dietitian

Sometimes you have to pivot, and be okay with it.

If you know me well, you know that I’m someone who always has a plan. I find immense satisfaction in looking ahead weeks, months and years and dreaming about where I could be by that point in time. I’m extremely detail-oriented (total walking dietitian stereotype) and I make lists about lists. Actually, I just recently took a personality test and my results indicated that these are a few ways to get along well with me:

  • Leave me alone when I’m doing my work.

  • Help me keep my environment harmonious and peaceful.

  • Tell me when you're proud of me or my accomplishments.

I swear I’m not a totally mean, stand-off-ish person! But these are surprisingly true. Imagine my dismay when what I originally set out to accomplish doesn’t actually work. I quickly learned that sometimes it’s necessary to switch directions and try something new without spending too much time dwelling that the “million-dollar idea” I had didn’t land. One thing that I didn’t have in my original business plan: the Healthy Buzz podcast which is turning out to be one of my favorite projects to date!

In-person connection is more important than an online presence.

Social media is fun and a great way to connect with other like-minded people. I also love it as a tool to showcase my personality and nutrition approach, portray my business mission and educate people in playful and creative way. One thing that social media isn’t: a catchall marketing tool.

There’s a difference between interacting and engaging and actually generating revenue. While I knew this probably wouldn’t be my biggest client referral source, I was surprised at just how few people came to me this way.

I also want to say that I thought I knew a lot about various social media platforms but there is always SO much more to learn. It’s one thing to use Facebook and Instagram regularly - it’s completely different to actually understand the strategy behind turning it into an effective business tool.

focus on serving first.

This one comes straight from one of my biggest sources of inspiration in the online business world - Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. His mission is largely focused on providing value and serving customers above all else and he is extremely generous to his fans.

Now, of course every business owner is providing something of value because otherwise, um, it wouldn’t be a business. HOWEVER, I think a lot of entrepreneurs are primarily focused on making money as fast as possible, instead of providing great customer service and building genuine relationships for long-term partnerships.

Real talk: I do have bills to pay and I can’t just be giving away my time for free. But I do subscribe to the theory that if you focus on solving a problem and showing compassion first, ideas on how to make it mutually beneficial will come.

Staying On Task Can be hard.

I get daily business tips in my inbox by an entrepreneur named Larry Jansky and I would highly recommend it to others. He provides short and powerful tidbits of knowledge that start my day on a positive (and motivating!) note. One of the most recent emails he sent said, “You can get ahead by simply controlling your attention - because most people don't do a good job of it”. How true is this?!

Working from home by yourself without anyone looking over your shoulder is a tricky dynamic to get used to. If you go down a black hole on You Tube for a half hour, no one will know, but your productive will suffer because of it. Here are some things I’ve personally changed to improve my focus during the day:

  • Turned off mobile notifications on Facebook. I just counted, and I’m in 27 different groups on Facebook (mostly business-related, some just for fun). TWENTY SEVEN. I get a lot of value out of these, but it’s a way more efficient use of time to designate specific blocks throughout the day to check-in and spend 10 or so minutes catching up and contributing to the conversation, rather than staying constantly connected.

  • Started using Todoist. This might be my favorite new tool of 2018. It seems so simple, but it’s basically a glorified to-do list with drag and drop capability and a color-coding system to help with prioritization. I still love my paper lists, but it’s nice to have access to this at all times (via computer or app). I start every day prioritizing this list.

  • Learned to batch tasks. If you were to ask me what a normal day looks like, it would be really hard to answer. On any given day I could be working with clients (or creating new materials for them), writing blog posts and social media content, networking, creating new recipes, or giving a presentation at a workplace. Just like in cooking, I’ve found it helpful to batch similar tasks together instead of flying by the seat of my pants. If I want to photograph a recipe, it makes more sense to do two or three while I have everything out. If I’m in writing mode, I may as well knock out a couple of pieces of content.

Efficiency is a key indicator of success.

Also known as, “work smarter, not harder”. It took awhile for this to sink in with me. I could easily work on my business late into the night, early in the morning and all afternoon on weekends if I didn’t set boundaries. I think deep down I felt like if I was always busy, that would equate to more business and the perception that I was killing it (so dumb - but so true). The reality is, not only is this totally unnecessary, it’s an implosion waiting to happen.

After being left to my own devices every day, I quickly learned that if this whole thing was going to work, I’d have to come up with a model that adds tremendous value to my customers but also makes sense for my own emotional well-being. This is why I’m constantly making changes to my offerings based on client feedback and my own learning experiences. p.s. I’ve got some big changes coming to my coaching services in 2019 and I can’t wait to share them!

Persistence is everything.

These things take time to build, and there are so many hard decisions to be made along the way. I’m a big believer that persistence is HUGE because sometimes it would be way easier to quit when things get hard.

Persistence is my word of the year because I wanted to prepare myself for the times when I had these self-doubting thoughts or second-guessed my decision to go solo. If there is one thing to take away from this article, it’s to remember that you are unique and have something special to offer the world (as said by Marie Forleo). Sometimes it just takes time to figure out how to deliver the message in a way that resonates with a large group of people.

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Lately (the Summer Edition)

Every once in awhile I love writing a "lately" style post that features a whole bunch of random favorites at the current moment. It's fun to read these on other blogs because I always learn a few new things. Make sure to leave me a comment with some of your favorite summer finds!

The Perfect Beach Read

 the rules do not apply

In terms of personal goals for this year, reading more was one of the big ones for me! So far I've read nine books this year and The Rules Do Not Apply is one of my favorites! It's a memoir written by a reporter from The New Yorker and it's raw and heartbreaking, and I could not put it down. Here's the first paragraph of the inside cover that lured me in:

When thirty-eight-year-old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true. 

I would highly recommend this for a beach read because it's quick (I finished it in two days) and compelling. 

Road Trip Podcast

There are a few new podcasts I have recently added to my rotation but my current favorite is Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. First of all, I was totally obsessed with Parenthood and he interviews several people from the cast. Secondly, I just love that he's married to Kristen Bell.

Armchair Expert is essentially a recorded conversation between Dax and one of his friends and it's really funny, lighthearted and genuine - kind of like you are getting a behind-the-scenes look at their lives. Some of my favorite episodes that I would recommend starting with are Kristen Bell, Ashton Kutcher, Jimmy Kimmel and Zach Braff (hilarious). If you have a longer road trip coming up, definitely save some of these because the episodes are usually around two hours long. 

 armchair expert podcast with Dax Shephard

Seasonal Eats

I've been feeling really inspired lately with all of the new summer produce, which has been great! Most notable are these chickpea salad radicchio cups that we'll be serving at my Summer Entertaining Made Simple event this Wednesday. P.S. All attendees will get access to the recipes that we showcase. This one is so good!

Two other recipes on my radar that I'm making ASAP: Walnut Chorizo Tacos with Pineapple Salsa and Grilled Carrots with Avocado and Mint

 chickpea salad in radicchio cups

Summer Beverages

Besides water I am loving all of these mocktails... and usually an actual cocktail if it's the weekend. My go-to adult beverages of the summer are been Infinite Monkey Theorem canned rosé (the cans are so fun!), Stem Ciders Salted Cucumber (so unique and amazing), and Epic Los Locos Mexican Lager. All of these are local to Colorado so you may or may not be able to find them if you live elsewhere. 

 Infinite Monkey Theorem canned rose

Warm Weather Movement

On the exercise front I'm still loving ClassPass (affiliate link) for the flexibility it offers. Especially in the summer, since I don't like being tied to a membership at one place (I would much rather get outside to walk or run). I am currently on the lowest membership level which equates to about one class per week and it's been perfect! I use it most often to go to my favorite Barre3 studio but love that I can pop in to a new place with friends once in awhile too.

Also worth noting, ClassPass just added wellness services like facials, massage and acupuncture to their schedule in select markets. I tried out my very first facial over the weekend for the same amount of credits as a class (a total steal) and had a fantastic experience at Glow Facial Bar in Cherry Creek. It was super relaxing and my skin was all dewy and glowing afterwards. Definitely a fun treat!

What are you reading, listening to, eating, moving to? 

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