Wrap a healthier gift this Christmas



It is almost never a good idea to buy your nearest and dearest any class of kitchen device but we might just make an exception for the Tefal ActiFry, pictured below. And why is that? Because this low-fat fryer will allow us eat guilt-free chips for the rest of our (now possibly longer) lives and will save money too.

A single spoonful of oil in this fryer will be enough to cook 1kg of chips (or sweet potatoes or sausages or whatever else you would normally deep fry).

That is 100 times less oil than a traditional deep fat fryer uses, so not only is the end result better for you, it’s better for your wallet too. It cooks food evenly and without odours so your kitchen won’t end up smelling like Burdocks on a Saturday night and the even better news is that it has fallen dramatically in price in recent months and was selling on amazon.co.ukfor £89.99 (€111) last week.


If you have a swimmer in your life, then you should stop what you’re doing right now and go in search of a waterproof MP3 player. We like the Finis SwiMP3, below, which offers very good quality sound under water without ear buds – it uses bone conduction audio transmission to send the music to your ears through your skull instead.

It has 2GB of storage or enough to facilitate a swimmer crossing the Irish sea several times over. It attaches securely to goggle straps, resting on the cheekbones and does not interfere with swimming technique. It is available from £148.60 (€183.77) on amazon.co.uk.

At €79 on pixmania.ie, the Vistaquest Swim Songs is cheaper but the storage is limited and the in-ear earphones may not suit all types of swimmers.


The Sanyo HEC-DR7700 massage chair is horrendously expensive at nearly €5,000 on therealmassage.ie, but if money were no object we’d love to find this under our tree come the big day.

It uses something called “free thumb” kneading technology to really dig into your muscles after it reclines you into what it decides is an optimum position using zero gravity settings which creates a feeling of weightlessness.

It has a control pad which would fit right in the cockpit of a fighter plane and costs almost as much as one too.

If the Sanyo chair is out of your price league – and let’s be honest here, it probably is – there’s always the Homedics SBM-300H-2EU, right, back massager.

It costs €199 on pixmania.ieand can be adapted to drape over most kinds of chair.

Once in place it will give you either a shiatsu or a kneading massage while soothing heat is released to untangle muscle knots and tension.


If you’re sitting in the chair and start to feel peckish, you could reach for some chocolate – but it will have to be dark.

Chocolate that has a cocoa percentage of more than 70 per cent is chock-a-block with chemicals that help the body repair itself. Valrhona is one of the finest such chocolates in the world. Gift sets are selling in Brown Thomas and other high-end stores with price tags of about €30.


Gym membership was one of the first things to be knocked on the head by many people after the recession really took hold four years ago. But prices have fallen in many clubs and some are offering special deals in the run-up to Christmas.

Rather than going from gym to gym in search of the best value, you’d be better off visiting gyms.iewhich has a comprehensive list of gyms around the country, as well as details of the special offers running at the moment.


The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, pictured, has taken pampering to a new level with its new spa which promises three floors of wall-to-wall relaxation, all manner of treatments and a gorgeous chandelier-lit relaxation room with panoramic views of St Stephen’s Green.

Among the treatments on offer are the high-end Pevonia line and the award-winning Elemis range, which combines naturally active ingredients with cutting-edge technology.

It has Christmas gift vouchers from €50 up to €1,000 and some impressive sounding spa treatments.

Of course, it is not the only spa in the country hoping to capture a chunk of the Christmas market and hundreds of relaxation specialists all over the country have deals of their own. The website pamperme.ieis a good first stop to find out what is on offer in your area.


Madonna loves it, Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it and growing numbers of us mere mortals have also discovered the hot and sweaty joys of Bikram yoga.

It is not cheap. A single 90-minute class spent dripping in sweat and contorting yourself into 20 unlikely positions in a room heated to 41 degrees can cost €20. Month-long vouchers are much more cost effective. A one-month beginners all-you-can sweat voucher for the Bikram centre in Dublin’s Harold’s Cross costs €49. See bikramyoga.ie.

Another Bikram centre, in Fairview on Dublin’s northside, has the same deal for beginners and also sells vouchers redeemable for any class. See bikram.ie.


Running is continuing to grow in popularity and while there are all manner of smart phone apps that help people with their training, the Garmin Forerunner, pictured, is the pace setter.

It looks very swish and comes with a heart rate monitor and “HotFix satellite prediction” which promises to find satellites quickly so you can start running straight away.

It will record your time, pace, distance, position, elevation, calories burned, heart rate and more. It will also allow you to store data on previous runs so you can either try to beat your previous best or compete with a virtual partner over a set distance, time or pace. At nearly £148 (€182.56) from amazon.co.uk, it is not cheap, but if you’re serious about running, it may still prove to be value for money.


Foot spas appear frequently on top of lists of the presents no one wants, but despite their perceived naffness they still remain resolutely popular and have probably come a long way since your granny first dunked her aching feet in one while watching Crossroads in the 1980s.

The HoMedics MySpa HL-150 foot spa is for sale at littlewoodsireland.iefor €39 and it promises to gives you a full spa pedicure treatment, right.

It comes with three attachments – a rolling ball for a foot massage; a pumice for removing dead and hard skin; and a brush to ensure clean skin and nails.

“Turbo bubbles provide an invigorating massage, along with the acu-pressure massage surface on the foot spa itself. There are toe-touch buttons for complete control and the soothing heat helps maintain water temperature.” It is still a foot spa, however.


The Wii Fit, has been enormously successful with people keen to do some exercise without actually going to the bother of leaving their homes. And it is not hard to see why – it allows you play tennis, do yoga and all manner of other activities without ever getting rained on. The software is better than ever and the range of games more extensive too. You can buy the console and the fitness games for less than €200. Not only will it get you fit, it is actually loads of fun.