Reminder: Mother's Day is just around the corner, coming up this Sunday, May 8!
This year, why not scrap the traditional greeting card (or book of coupons for hugs) and opt for a natural, healthy living treat or two? Your mom -- and the environment -- will thank you for it!
Here are 11 healthy gift ideas for Mom.
GIVEAWAY: See below for how to enter to win!
Flowers are among the most classic Mother's Day options and organic flowers can be an Earth-friendly way to send thanks to your mom. (Kate Middleton even reportedly opted for organic blooms on her big day.) Look for sites like Organic Bouquet and California Organic Flowers, which claim to offer sustainable flowers grown sans pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
Much has been made of the health benefits of dark chocolate, and with good reason. "I'm not saying that chocolate is now a health food," Jeffrey B. Blumberg, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University told The New York Times. But he did co-author a 2005 study that found that chocolate led to a "clinically significant" decline in blood pressure in a small pool of participants. According to The Cleveland Clinic, the real benefit are the flavanols in cocoa and dark chocolate, which have antioxidant qualities as well as "other positive influences on vascular health." But not all chocolates are created equal: to get the most benefits for mom, look for a chocolate that hasn't been tampered with too much (which likely means it will retain more of its natural, slightly bitter taste). Look for chocolates with few added ingredients to avoid things like hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Proponents of soy candles say they're a good option because they eliminate soot. (Soy wax, they say, is petroleum-free and burns cleaner than paraffin.) There are many brands out there, from Mrs. Meyers to Archipelago Botanicals.
Gift baskets are another classic Mother's Day option, but they've been given an upgrade in recent years thanks to an explosion of organic options on the market. Companies like Cherry Moon Farms offer baskets and platters chock full of organic fruit, while It's Only Natural Gifts has options like organic cookie plates and design-your-own tote bags, which let you pick and choose specific natural products according to her taste.
Cosmetics aren't the only thing going green; brushes have gone natural, too. Vegan actress Alicia Silverstone contributed to a line of cosmetic bags for the line EcoTools, which are reportedly made with cotton and hemp material. Fill one up with the company's line of makeup brushes, which it says are made from cruelty-free bristles and bamboo. Another brush option for mom is a natural bristle dry brush, which she can use in the shower or bath to slough off dead skin cells. Proponents say dry brushes not only help with dry skin, they're also good for circulation. (Claims that dry brushing can help the body release toxins have been called into question.)
Unchecked stress can be really bad for the body and "relaxation techniques are an essential part of stress management," the Mayo Clinic says. Giving mom a gift certificate for a massage can not only help her relax in the moment, it can also be a much-needed reminder that she needs to take some time out for herself and her well being every day. Pick one up at a local shop, or buy a gift certificate online from SpaFinder (which work at more than 6,000 spas around the world) or Massage Envy (which has clinics in more than 43 states). With electronic delivery, both options are good for last minute shoppers!
From the more intense, like AeroGarden's mini kitchen nursery, to something simpler, like a small windowsill herb garden, plant kits are a nice way for mom to incorporate some green into her life, without having to throw tons of energy into a big, external garden. As an added bonus, the fresh herbs and even vegetables that many of the kits grow make for a healthful addition to home cooked meals.
Perhaps a little bit pricier than some of the other options on the list, natural bedding is a worthy splurge. In addition to being luxurious, it has the added benefit of helping your mother get a good night's rest -- a boon for her overall well being. Brands like Gaiam sell organic cotton and flannel bedding in a variety of patterns and styles. And even more "mainstream" companies like Pottery Barn now sell organic quilts, duvet covers and sheets.
Numerous studies have revealed the health benefits of yoga, saying it can help with everything from hot flashes to memory. Being a newbie can be intimidating, so if your mom is a yoga neophyte, look into buying her a private, introductory lesson or a package for a beginner series at her local studio. Instructors will take things slowly so she can ease into things. If there's no studio nearby, consider buying her a mat and a DVD she can use at home. Or if she's computer savvy, there are also membership sites like My Yoga Online and YogaGlo, which offer class videos online.
Essential oils fell somewhat of fashion in the past few decades, with people concerned that they caused breakouts. But according to The Wall Street Journal, essential oils are making a real comeback, with proponents saying they're a great, more natural option for parched skin. Look out for offerings from brands like Nude, which claims to use primarily organic ingredients, or supermodel Miranda Kerr's Kora Organics line. Tata Harper and Decleor are two more that were singled out by natural beauty maven Gwyneth Paltrow in a recent Goop newsletter on natural cosmetics.
If there's a new mom on your gift list, consider non-toxic baby soaps, lotions or shampoos. She can use them for her baby, then try them out herself for a quick moment of peace when bath time is over. There are plenty of brands to choose from, with everyone from Burt's Bees to Weleda offering baby-specific, all-natural options. A good way to start sifting through the many offerings is to check out the Environmental Working group's cosmetic database, which provides corresponding hazard scores for many products.
WIN IT: The Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift
Saved all your shopping until the last minute? Not to worry -- we’re giving away a luxurious and healthy Mother’s Day gift set to one lucky reader. This Sunday, May 8, our winner can present Mom with all four of these totally free gifts (although she doesn’t have to know all it took was a tweet)!
A $100 SpaFinder gift card -- just right for the stress-relieving massage she earned during the 18-plus years she spent raising you. It’s valid at more than 6,000 spas worldwide (valued at $100).
The Mother’s Day Collection gift set from Gnosis chocolate, which includes four raw, vegan chocolate bars and two gift boxes of spring truffles (valued at $49.48).
A bouquet of two dozen organic, blushing roses from Organic Bouquet (valued at $69.95). Because Mom deserves flowers.
Tell us the best natural health tip your mother gave you growing up by either:
1. Tweeting @HuffPostHealth with your answer
2. Leaving a comment in the comment fields below
A couple rules...
The comment or tweet must be left before 9 a.m. eastern time on Friday, May 6, 2011.
Open to legal resident of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older. You may enter one time. One winner will be selected in a random drawing. Please enter only once. Click here for complete Official Rules.
**The winner will be chosen Friday morning at 10 a.m., so check your email to make sure you get the gift in time!