Skip to main content

The Manual’s Southern Food Gift Guide

the manuals southern food gift guide grounds and hounds
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Stumped for a great holiday gift? Food is a great alternative for those who already have most everything they want. Okay, we’ll admit, maybe the stereotyped fruit cake won’t win smiles when the gifts are opened, but we’ve found some items that your family and friends will rave about. Even better—you’ll be toasted as the best gift giver of the bunch.

Mimi’s Mountain Mixes

beer bread mixesIf you are headed to a party and need to take a dish, believe it or not there’s a way to create a coffee cake or pan of cornbread by using a clever mix that requires only one additional ingredient—a bottle of your favorite beer.

mimi's mountain mixesMimi’s Mountain Mixes, based in Hendersonville, N.C. produces a delightful variety of mixes. Dump the contents in a bowl and add 12 ounces of your favorite beer, whisk together, and then bake. If you don’t care for beer, you can put in just about any type of carbonated beverage.

There are several varieties: Red Pepper Chili Beer Bread, Old Tavern Original Beer Bread, Italian Herb Beer Bread, and Corn Beer Bread. They also sell a mix for Cinnamon Spice Coffee Cake, Mountain Cocoa Cookies, and Beer Batter, which you can use to fry up chicken, fish, and vegetables (think okra!). Each bag of mix retails for $6.95; a 5-pack sampler sells for $32.

Lord Nut Levington

Lord nutOther peanuts are going to taste a bit bland after you experience the savory flavor combinations produced by Lord Nut Levington. You won’t be able to get enough of these flavors: Spicy Bloody Mary, Hot Buffalo, Zesty Chili Lime, White Cheddar & Jalapeno, and Thai Curry & Lemongrass.

Each 8-ounce tin sells for $4.99, but we recommend stocking up with The Nut Case. Select an assortment of six flavors (any configuration) for $26.99. Shipping on a case order is free.

Barkley’s Mill Stoned Happy Grits

A family-run farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina takes grits to a whole new level. Barkley’s Mill, located on a farm 20 miles north of Asheville, grows gourmet Barkley's Mill_hr_grits 1_heirloom corn, harvests by hand, dries it naturally, and then stone grinds it in small batches to create Stoned Happy Grits. The girts are Gluten-Free Certified and Non-GMO Project Verified.

Three generations of the Barkley clan work side-by-side to produce their product. The grits are packaged on-site and shipped direct to customers. The cost is $21 for a two-pound bag, plus shipping.

The family backs its grits with a 30-day/100% money back guarantee. Try them. We bet you’ll be back for more.

Mad Hectic Oatmeal

Mad Hectic Oatmeal Chocolate RasperryPack some of this oatmeal in a gift basket or delight your overnight holiday guests with a bowl for breakfast. Mad Hectic Oatmeal, based in Houston, Texas, has perfected a really great tasting oatmeal that cooks in just one minute. You won’t see mystery flakes or artificial colorings in these packs. You’ll see real ingredients like whole raspberries, chocolate chips, and almonds.

You can definitely see a difference when you heat up this oatmeal. It seems to puff up much bigger than the ordinary varieties. That’s because the organic oatmeal is combined with protein powder (all-natural, ultrafiltered whey protein that contains NO pesticides, herbicides, rBST growth hormones or antibiotics), and other ingredients like organic flaxseed meal, organic sesame seeds, freeze-dried fruit and tree nuts. Delicious!

Seven varieties to choose from: Just Plain Good, Raspberry Almond, Almond Pecan, Chocolate Raspberry, French Chocolate, Red Raspberry, Strawberry Pecan. The plain retails for $8. Other flavors are $8.50. A custom box of 12 is currently $97.

Steeplechase Toffee

steeplechase toffee

After graduating from the University of Alabama and starting his career in Chicago, Zack Joyce ultimately returned home to Waynesville, N.C., where he’s taken over the 20-year-old Steeplechase Toffee company originally created by his mother, Barbara Joyce.

Decadent is an understatement when it comes to the mouth-watering toffee the Joyces have perfected over the years. Each small batch is hand crafted using the finest ingredients and copper kettles. The toffee is free of additional fillers or any type of preservatives.

The traditional Old English toffee remains the fan favorite, but there are also five other flavors: plain (nut-free with graham cracker crumbs), tropical (cashew and coconut toffee), Butter Mint (white chocolate infused with peppermint extract), Spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, apple cider and white chocolate), and Peanut Butter and Chocolate.

There are several different price points for the toffee ranging from $18.75 for a 16-ounce gift box to $52 for a 48-ounce tin.

Grounds & Hounds

If your definition of happy includes starting your day with a great cup of coffee and being greeted by a wagging dog’s tail, then here’s a company you definitely need to know about: Grounds & Hounds.

GH_GiftPack-2014-450x450px_1024x1024You’ll fall in love with the bold flavors of their fair trade, organic, whole bean coffee, but you’ll also be helping your four legged pals. The company donates 20% of its proceeds to no-kill animal rescue organizations.

Bags of whole beans are, on average, nine bucks each. Flavors include Morning Walk Breakfast Blend, Paper & Slippers Blend, Sit & Stay Blend, and Alpha Blend, among others. The Sunrise Rescue Gift Pack is a great way to sample three flavors plus receive a mug and tote—all for $43. 

Editors' Recommendations

Marla Milling
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Marla Hardee Milling is a full-time freelance writer living in a place often called the Paris of the South, Sante Fe of the…
The 6 best places to buy bulk food online in 2024
Ft. Wayne - Circa August 2017: Costco Wholesale Location. Costco Wholesale is a Multi-Billion Dollar Global Retailer X

Once you’ve mastered the most important cooking skills, it’s time to stock up your food supplies. There are certain foods that should always be on your grocery list so it’s simple to make quick meals at a moment’s notice. More importantly, if you’re doing that, you’ll also want to keep costs down. That’s where buying bulk food can save you a fortune. Simplifying matters even more, the best place to shop for bulk food is online.

Below, we’ve picked out the best places to buy bulk food online, while breaking down delivery costs, whether you need to place a minimum order and whether you need to be a member to enjoy the benefits. In no time, you’ll be all set with a bulk buy purchase of all your favorite produce, and you’ll save money too.
Likely to be the first place you think of when it comes to bulk buying, Costco is a great option. It offers pretty much all the food you could think of with many items taking just two days to arrive. It’s possible to buy 10 pounds of organic chicken breasts for $150 in the same place as you can buy a seemingly endless supply of oatmeal. Huge deep-dish pizzas can also be purchased from the deli while the same is the case for cakes or other tasty treats. In some cases, there’s same-day delivery too. Shipping and handling is included in the prices but you’ll need to purchase a Costco membership which is $60 per year.

Read more
14 of the best prebiotic foods you should be eating – from apples to oats and lentils
Prebiotic foods to add to your grocery list
Foods with prebiotics like chicory, beets, and leeks.

There are constantly new wellness trends to try on a seemingly weekly basis. Some are better for you than others. One of the more popular recent trends starts with your gut. Your gut houses a broad range of bacteria and fungi that help digest and absorb nutrients in the food you eat.
These bacteria and fungi are also responsible for maintaining the integrity of the intestinal barrier, producing vitamins, reducing inflammation in the body, fending off pathogenic microorganisms, and signaling the immune system to produce more white blood cells. These resident microorganisms together form what is known as the gut microbiome -- a complex ecosystem that is susceptible to disruption and imbalance by things like antibiotics, a chronically poor diet, stress, and medications.
While certain habits can negatively affect the gut microbiome, they can also be improved and made to flourish with supportive behaviors and foods. Though probiotics get most of the attention and credit for being the go-to salve for the gut, prebiotics are arguably just as important. Prebiotics are compounds comprised of oligosaccharides, inulin, lactulose, and glycan, which are dietary fibers (carbohydrates) that are indigestible for humans but are the preferred source of fuel and nutrients for our good bacteria in the gut. In fact, prebiotics selectively feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut rather than any harmful pathogens.
A good visual is to picture the gut microbiome as a garden. Probiotics can be equated to seeds or seedlings, and the healthy bacteria are the plants. Prebiotics, on the other hand, can be pictured as fertilizer, offering helpful bacterial plants nutrients to support their growth. In this way, the prebiotics feed or fuel probiotics and the other beneficial microorganisms already inhabiting our gut.
Prebiotics are found as fermented fiber in many fruits and vegetables, as well as some seeds and grains. Adding them to your diet can help fortify the good bacteria in your gut, improve bowel regularity, and support healthy digestion. Here are some of the best prebiotic foods to stock up on next time you go grocery shopping.

Asparagus contains between 2 and 3 grams of inulin per 100 grams or a 20-calorie serving. This makes one of the least calorically dense sources of inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber known to aid digestive health, regulate the optimal levels of glucose and insulin, and fuel Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species and other good bacteria in your gut. The inulin is more effective when asparagus is raw, so try incorporating thin slices into fresh salads or shaving spears on sandwiches or atop avocado toast.

Read more
A guide to Cajun food, a Franco-American wonder
Everything you need to know about Cajun cuisine
Cajun food in a pan.

Of the many great American exports out there, Cajun food sits toward the top of the list. Equal parts French culinary wisdom and Bayou soul, it's something of a hybrid but also very much its own cuisine. And it's responsible for some of the most tantalizing dishes out there.

Sure,  it started in New Orleans and sometimes involves crawfish. But it's way, way more than that. We won't dive too deep, but it pays to know something about this incredible food style, born right here in the U.S.A.

Read more