I'm thinking marzipan is out.
August 22, 2008 5:00 PM   Subscribe

What kinds of foods could I make (cookies, etc) and put in a care package that would be good for someone who is on a weight loss plan?

It'll take 2-3 business days to travel by mail. I'd really like to be able to make some treats to show I care, but he's trying to lose weight so I don't want to send a box full of shortbread. Do you have any recipes or treat ideas that would let me send tasty but not too fattening treats through the mail? I know that it would matter more if it was stuff I made, not stuff I bought.
posted by Salmonberry to Food & Drink (19 answers total)
Is there something you could send that would be a treat for him but isn't food at all? I think even if you made something that was relatively low in calories and fat, if I were in his place, I wouldn't want a whole box of cookies in front of me, even if they were less fattening than shortbread. (After all, if you eat twelve of them at once because they're right there, they're not so great for a diet.) Sending food, even if you go out of your way to make it healthier, might send the opposite message of support. I think it's very thoughtful of you to want to show support, I just think maybe a non-food gift might be even more thoughtful.

That said, if it's really important to you and you want to make some kind of homemade treat, meringues are pretty low-damage cookies.
posted by adiabat at 5:15 PM on August 22, 2008

I have to agree with adiabat. What's good also depends on the diet. Low carb, for example, would rule out any cookie like snack. And what's good for that diet is verboten for most others.
posted by Kellydamnit at 5:18 PM on August 22, 2008

Alternately, you could send something that is impossible to overindulge on-- for example, a thing of homemade jam.

It's not really the season but soup in a jar sounds healthy enough.

Also, you could make homemade granola. But granola is usually deceptively unhealthy.

You could probably also make a gourmet vinaigrette.
posted by acidic at 5:24 PM on August 22, 2008

Don't send food to someone who's trying to change their eating approach, unless you know exactly what changes they're making. Someone who's doing a low-carb eating plan might enjoy homemade jerky, but someone who's doing a low-fat eating plan might enjoy the meringues adiabat suggested.

But if you sent the jerky to Mr. Low-Fat and the meringues to Ms. Low-Carb, you wouldn't be giving them the kind of gifts they wanted.

So show you care by doing something else. Burn them a CD or make them cool rubber stamps or something.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:24 PM on August 22, 2008

One more thing: while I agree that a BOX of cookies is undermine-y, I think slipping in 1-3 fancy cookies would be great. Dieters have to indulge a little bit too.
posted by acidic at 5:25 PM on August 22, 2008

Response by poster: I have bandied about the idea of non-food, but if I go that way it's one more thing he'll have to fit in his suitcase on his return, food could be eaten there and not brought back. He's not trying to go through any particular diet, just overall watching what he eats. I'll try to come up with something else that can be left behind. Thanks for the suggestions so far.
posted by Salmonberry at 5:27 PM on August 22, 2008

Well, if he's just trying to eat healthier choices and/or smaller quantities, then a little pot of fabulous jam and something like oatcakes would be great. Or a few meringues and some fancy dried fruit. Or those freeze-dried vegetable thingies that are so expensive I never buy them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:37 PM on August 22, 2008

YEAH, the freeze dried vegetables! combine them and add a spice and that would make a great gift.
posted by acidic at 5:41 PM on August 22, 2008

here is a site with some dried fruits, veggies, and mixes for inspiration.
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:18 PM on August 22, 2008

How about spice blends he can put on plain grilled meat or salads like

Italian (oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper) or
Garam Masala (cumin, ginger, coriander, cayenne, tumeric, salt, pepper) or
Cajun (garlic powder, onion powder, nutmeg, parsley, cayenne, chili powder, salt pepper)?
posted by spec80 at 7:27 PM on August 22, 2008

So he's away from home right now? Maybe you could look up reviews for some healthy restaurants in his area and call them up to have a gift certificate sent to him instead. It's still something useful that he doesn't have to bring home, and while it's food-related, he gets to exercise a bit more control in what he eats. (I'd say you could get him a gift certificate to do something fun in that city/area and avoid the food issue entirely, but then that's something he has to fit into his schedule, whereas everyone has to eat dinner.)
posted by adiabat at 7:49 PM on August 22, 2008

How about some really great fruit, like fancy pears or peaches?
posted by carmicha at 7:52 PM on August 22, 2008

Second liketitanic. Also, it's hard to overindulge in really dark chocolate, or something really spicy. I can eat a whole jar of jam if I'm not careful.

You could make a fourteen bean soup mix or something with a lot of fiber in it. My wife made cocoa mix with milk powder / cocoa / mini-marshmallows one christmas. The act of preparing it means he can spend a little time measuring out how much he wants to eat.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:42 AM on August 23, 2008

A quick note about sending meringue: It does not do well in humid environments. For example, if it is dry enough where I live to make meringues (which is a rare day), I certainly could not leave them -- even in a sealed container -- for two days. They become really soft and start to have a weird texture. So, something to think about if you are mailing them.
posted by Houstonian at 3:08 AM on August 23, 2008

This is a minefield. You're giving someone on a diet some food that they'll feel bad if they don't eat or throw away.
posted by smackfu at 8:39 AM on August 23, 2008

Maybe you could get a cheap box of chocolates, the kind with the little individual sections for each chocolate, throw out the chocolates and replace them with a little toy, picture, encouraging quote, funny one lineror..... Don't send food, you don't know what might set him off on a binge. Most of us who have weight problems need encouragement to do something other than eat, at least that's how I feel when I'm in weight loss mode. It's really nice of you to want to do something to support your friend though
posted by BoscosMom at 2:19 PM on August 23, 2008

oops, I meant:
one liner or....?
posted by BoscosMom at 2:22 PM on August 23, 2008

Your heart is in the right place, but this is kind of the issue with a lot of people who are trying to lose weight: they are very used to using food as a reward, a way to show they care, a comfort, everything. The biggest thing people can do when trying to work on weight loss is often to redefine their relationship with food -- how they eat it, obtain it, take it when it's offered, etc.

I agree strongly with the people who say that you shouldn't send something unless you know that it'll fit into their plan. I know that I received some cocoa for Christmas one year, and I felt incredibly insulted, because not only were we low-carbing it at the time, the gift-giver knew it because she was doing it too and WE HAD STARTED HER UP. Re: "one or two cookies," I would feel like that's not respectful of my efforts at all.

That said, if you are really set on something like this, I bet your friend is doing more cooking than he is used to. Especially with restrictive diets, he's probably trying to find new ways to up the flavor in his food. How about trying a package of some high-quality spices, etc. from a place like Penzeys? Maybe add in some good olive oil and balsamic vinegar; that's the kind of thing that can fit in even in a low-fat diet.
posted by Madamina at 3:09 PM on August 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Send him postcards. Or a letter. My sister likes to make artsy cards and notes with I like getting. A funny pen One of the fun klutz books (some of which are good just for kids and some are for kids at heart). and I am agreeing with Madamina about herbs and spices.

If you really really have to absolutely send food, simply ask him first. "Is there any treat you'd like me to send?"
posted by silkygreenbelly at 10:52 PM on August 23, 2008

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