November 23, 2019

2019 Holiday Recommendations from Nik & Lee

Gift giving time is fast approaching, and with it comes a neat little tidbit of information:  Did you know that when you do things to improve yourself you become LESS happy than when you do things to improve other people's lives?  

Let's kick up your happiness quotient by helping you improving the life of someone special to you, here are our 2019 holiday recommendations.  

Dry Farm Wines

Let's start with wine.  Yes, I know you think wine isn't Paleo.  We wrote an entire blog post about it.  Let's assume for now that regardless of whether it is or isn't, you're still going to have a glass every night (as Lee does.)   The folks at Dry Farms are strict about what kinds of wines they get, focusing on "all natural & additive free, sugar-free and low alcohol wines lab tested for purity."

Visit them here: Dry Farm Wines

Kasandrinos Olive Oil

Unlike wine, olive oil is indubitably Paleo.  Like wine, there are thousands of producers of olive oil, ranging from Costco sized squeezers all the way down to small farms doing it the right way.  Tony Kasandrinos and his family are in the latter group, and we LOVE their olive oil.  We've been on the KEVOO train for a long time, and this holiday will be no exception.  Check out their delicious olive oil here, we'll be picking up a few of the Titan bottles for this season!

Oura Ring

Ok, if 2019 was the year of anything, it was when the value of sleep started to make serious headway in the public consciousness.  The trouble with sleep is you're, well, asleep when you do it.  When you wake up you may feel great (or terrible), but you generally have no idea what happened last night.

The Oura ring has been around for a few years now, Lee & I started to use one last October (long blog post on that here) and it has really helped reinforce healthy sleeping habits. 

Oura ring total sleep time

As an example, here's my total sleep time over the past 12 months or so. 

You can see where I slept a TON after having a concussion from paragliding last November, and where I started to get low on sleep while traveling in October of this year. 

Each time I see a dip, or series of dips, it's a clear reminder to get more time in bed.  It sounds silly, but that has been a powerful reinforcer of getting enough good sleep.

Let me be clear about this:  Wearing this ring will NOT make you a better sleeper by itself.  What it will do (and has done for us) is make it very clear what kind of sleep you are getting, along with gentle yet powerful nudges in the direction of improving all aspects of sleep hygiene.

Pick yours up on the Oura website, here.


If 2019 was the year where sleep and recovery came to the forefront, hot on their heels were ways to improve your mental performance.  Lee & I have long been interested in improving our minds, from Lee's decades-long Buddhist practice to forays into shocking our brain with mild zaps (that was a Nik-only event, which I wrote about here

We were introduced to Dr. Patrick Porter's Braintap device and app at this year's Mindshare event.  It's a combination of lights in your eyes and ears (yes, ears!) as well as sound patterns and voice guidance through some of the deepest and most powerful meditations that Lee or I have experienced. 

It is NOT the cheapest thing you'll ever pick up, but if you're looking for something to take your meditation game up a level we've had a fantastic experience with it so far. 

With that said, if you just want to dip your toe in the water you can try the app; they usually have a 15 day free trial on their site, and both Lee & I dug just the app alone without the headset.

Get your Braintap headset or app here

WakingUp app

Speaking of apps, if you want something much less expensive and equally effective in managing your mind (vs focused efforts at improving certain aspects of your mindset in BrainTap) we'd have a hard time being more enthusiastic about Sam Harris' Waking Up app

Lee has been using this for almost a year, pretty much every morning.  I use it when I start to get super scattered (as opposed to just my normal wet-cat-juggling mind) and have found that with a few days of commitment I can reel in the various modules of my mind that love to go off exploring in wildly different directions.

If you've got 10 minutes a day and can go through the first series of meditations (I think there are 50), I promise you this'll change your life. 

Waking Up website and app here. 

Primal Life Organics

Looking for stocking stuffers?  Primal Life Organics is about as good as it gets.  Toothpaste, deodorant, and lip balms are all excellent things to drop in your boo's stocking.  Need something a little higher up on the spend-line?  Trina (the nurse behind PLO) has a pretty rad natural tooth whitening kit that Lee is especially psyched on.  However you take care of you and your crew's skin and oral care, this is our go-to line for health-first products in the space.

Check out Primal Life Organics, here. 

Lems Shoes

I've been wearing Lems for the past couple years; they took over for my Altra Sampsons after those were discontinued.  If, like me, you have wide, hobbit like feet and want a zero drop shoe without the silly toe pockets, Lems Primal 2 model are the ticket.  I like mine so much I usually wear 'em until they have holes in the heels, then pick up a new pair.  Yep, they're that comfortable.

Pick up a pair here. 

Keto Mojo

This one is for you "trackers".  We get more or less and endless stream of customers who walk in and ask, "What do you have that's keto?"  Our first question is:  How serious are you about being in ketosis?  Have you EVER tracked it with blood, breath, or urine testers?

Usually the answer is "No" followed by a sheepish, "Well, I just want to [lose weight, feel better, get off gluten, etc]."  All of those are fine goals, but trust me, it'll be a LOT easier to get into and stay in ketosis if you know when you're there.  "Feeling it" is not, historically, very accurate.

With that said, tracking blood ketones or blood glucose is a pain in the...finger.  Still, it's not that hard, and if you've ever stepped on a piece of gravel you've endured 10 times the pain of the tiny little pin prick you'll need to get a drop of blood to actually test if you're in ketosis. 

The KetoMojo device is one of the easiest ways to get a very accurate and fast reading of what's going on as far as your keto state.  We have one at the shop you're welcome to come try out, or you can take our word for it and make this holiday season the very first time you ever KNOW whether or not you're maintaining that nice healthy keto state.

Pick up a KetoMojo here.   

All Star Real Food Cookbook

So, these are already (November) selling pretty damn quickly and getting great reviews from folks who've seen the digital version.  We worked on this project for about a year, rallying together 20 of the top names in the world of real food to see what their favorite 5 recipes are that they make at home on the daily. 

We think this should be in everyone's kitchen, BUT we did print a limited amount of 'em, so if you want them THIS year, order ASAP.  Physical copies start shipping Dec 1st, 2019.

Pick up your copy here. 

Paleo Treats (obviously)

I put these down here in the middle because I figured you've already ordered 'em, but just in case you haven't, OR you want to be extra rad and send a box to a friend, please make sure to include Paleo Treats in every aspect of your holiday "hell yeah for this!" list.  :) 

Order Paleo Treats here. 


Lee & I met the folks at Chilipad at the Mindshare event this year (referenced above) and they sent over a Chilipad and Ooler for us to test.

What the heck are those?  Basically, it's a way to keep your mattress cool while you sleep, which seems to promote longer, deeper, more refreshing sleep.  It took me a few days to NOT be a knucklehead by attempting to sleep on the lowest setting, but once I got it dialed in (65F is where I sleep best) my sleep has really improved.

This has been super helpful during some high stress times lately (moving the office, traveling a bunch, launching the cookbook, etc.)

Learn more and add a mattress cooler to your sleep routine over at Chilipad, here. 

Blue Blockers

As you may know, I occasionally work for Red Bull's High Performance team conducting stress inoculation on their athletes.  In 2019, that meant traveling to Florida and Hawaii as well as heading up to their HQ in Santa Monica. 

The staff usually works together very closely for a few days at a time with a small group of elite athletes.  We're always swapping new ways we've found to improve our own performance and recovery, and a point of hilarity for the RB crew this year was me wearing my cheap-o Amazon special blue blockers in the hour before bed. 

While they laughed because I looked silly, I slept like a baby and was up early ready to rock 'n roll.  Apparently the science on 'em is inconclusive, but I've been using 'em for a little over a year and have kept 'em in my sleep hygiene routine the whole time.  'Nuff said.

Pick up a set to stuff in a stocking (or add to your evening routine) on Amazon; I got a 2 pack so Lee doesn't fight me for 'em. 


The boys at BUBS Collagen have long been favorites of mine, mostly for their zany and wild approach to life, but also because they actually care about both their product and the foundation it supports. 

They're still a small company, which means they buy from a single source.  THAT means you get the same quality of collagen every time, unlike many of the larger brands that are so big they have to draw from multiple sources. 

Their collagen powder goes in my morning Mega Coffee every day.  Pick up a tub here. 

Paleo Magazine

One of my favorite gifts to get is a magazine subscription to something I like.  There's something special about getting a reminder every month or so that someone cared enough about you to hook you up with knowledge on an ongoing basis.

Obviously Paleo Magazine is right in line with our world, so if you want to stay up to date with latest in Paleo, pick up a subscription for yourself of the Paleo peeps in your life.  

Check 'em out here.


I usually get my books from the library, but I know not everyone likes to actually leave their house and talk to other people in order to get a book. When I do buy books, I usually pick 'em up from Alibris, which is where the links below will take you.  Enjoy!

The Night Manager -- Super fun little spy thriller from Le Carre.

Blood Meridian -- If you haven't read this master work by Cormac McCarthy you're in for a dark, intense, and stunningly well written ride.  This is a love/hate book, by the way, not many people just "ho-hum" through it.

Liked this article?  Check out these other interviews and writings I think you'll enjoy.

Nik Hawks


Nik Hawks helps run the show at Paleo Treats. Fascinated by humans in all their strange glory, Nik is harnessed in and pulling hard in pursuit of excellence with the rest of the PT Crew. Enjoy!

Too much reading...
How about dessert?

Too Much Reading...How About Dessert?

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