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Call me a traditionalist but there's no way my Thanksgiving turkeys and pumpkins get replaced with red and green Christmas decor until December 1. Gift ideas are another matter. It's never too early to shop, right? Here's a few gift ideas that will last longer than Christmas morning:

Sustain the environment

For the take-your-lunch-to-school-or-work bunch, the "ECOlunchbox" is a cute little stainless steel 3-piece lunch box that replaces plastic bags and soggy sandwiches. A mere 4 inches wide, 5.5 inches long and less than 3 inches high, it has room for dietitian-approved portions of a small sandwich or other entree, plus two side dishes. It is dishwasher safe and available at ecolunchboxes.com.

Sustain those in need

Heifer International, www.heifer.org, has a 70-year history of providing food-producing animals to impoverished families around the world. A donation of $20 in the name of a special person on your Christmas list buys a flock of chicks that grow up to lay protein-packed eggs — 200 per year per hen. For a $30 donation, a hive of bees can pollinate crops and provide honey that a family can sell to buy food. For $60, a tree that produces fruit or nuts can be planted to nourish a needy family.

Sustain hope

Vision Trust, visiontrust.org/christmas, allows your gift recipient to provide spiritual and physical nourishment to a child in need. Donations to this international organization in the name of someone on your list with a heart for children provides tools and seeds for planting a garden, water filters that give families access to clean water and other basic medical treatments for children living in poverty.

Sustain healthful eating

Who says that nutritious food can't taste good? For the wanna-be-a-more-creative cook on your list, I've rediscovered "The Flavor Bible," by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg (Little, Brown, 2008). Besides its fun quotes — "Great cooks rarely consult cookbooks." (Charles Simic, US Poet Laureate) — and wisdom from some of America's most imaginative chefs, this book presents, in alphabetical order, foods and spices that marry well with other foods, seasonings and particular cuisines. Anyone who spends time trying to spice up their life in the kitchen will appreciate this book. Another easy read that addresses today's main issues in nutrition from both research and real-life perspectives is this author's "Quinn-Essential Nutrition: The Uncomplicated Science of Eating." No pressure, but signed copies are available for order at quinnessentialnutrition.com. Ho, ho ho.

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Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian. Email her at barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com.

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