Every December for the past 17 years, we’ve been curating a blog post that highlights Our Favorite Things from the previous year. From the small stuff that brings smiles to our faces to the game-changing items that we can’t imagine living without, our favorites are as diverse as those of us who contribute.
Hands down, it is our favorite post to write! Once again, our children—19-year-old Layla, nearly 16-year-old Leo, and 13-year-old Mia—have joined in on the fun. Even Goji, our 4-year-old cockapoo, couldn’t resist adding some favorites!
Our Favorite Things has something for everyone. Think tasty eats, kitchen gadgets, game nights, comfy clothes, terrific tech, good reads, binge-worthy shows, and wellness goodies.
Grab yourself a steamy beverage, curl up on your couch, and join us for a short journey where every item has a story because it’s earned a special place in our hearts in 2023.
Debbie’s Favorite Things
1. Sustainable Chocolate. It’s no secret that I am a lover of chocolate—especially chocolate made with simple, clean, gluten and dairy free ingredients. A local Colorado couple purchased farmland in Cameroon, Africa to grow cacao in a sustainable manner that would also benefit the surrounding communities.
Bibamba is one of my favorite chocolates to eat and to give as a beautiful gift. My personal favorites are the Pate Au Chocolat (I challenge you to not eat it by the spoonful!) and the Sweet & Salty Bark.
2. Ceramic Crock Pot. My crockpot is one of my kitchen tools that I couldn’t live without. I easily use it 2-4x per week, depending on the season, so every few years I need to purchase another one. My GreenLife crock pot is my favorite yet! The ceramic pot insert is not only lightweight, but it can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. This allows you to start with a sear and then finish the meal with a slow cook, and also eliminates having to clean an additional pan. Plus, it comes in fun colors. Who doesn’t want a teal crock pot?
3. True Foods. This beautiful, seasonal restaurant was started by Dr. Andrew Weil, a renowned integrative medicine doctor. This restaurant sums up my belief that food can be both good for you and taste good!
While we personally can’t understand how a True Foods Kitchen has never opened in Boulder, we visit the Denver restaurant a few times a year—especially on celebratory occasions that warrant the flourless chocolate cake with caramel sauce!
There are locations across the country, so we’ve dined at True Foods in Atlanta, Florida, California, and Arizona as well. We truly love True Foods.
4. Live to 100. This Netflix series takes you around the world to learn about five communities in the “Blue Zones”: places where people live vibrant lives with the highest rates of living centenarians. These five areas share some similar elements—a whole-foods diet, daily movement, and a deep sense of community—all things that we personally practice, believe, and have written about as the foundations of good health.
5. White Balsamic. White balsamic vinegars are made by blending fine white wine vinegar with young traditional balsamic vinegar. They are less sweet and syrupy than traditional balsamics.
This past spring, we went to Steamboat Springs, CO and visited a local store called Elevated Olive where we purchased a few to try. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with white balsamic vinegars and how they brighten up vegetable dishes and salads! The Pomegranate Quince and Cranberry Pear are my two current favorites.
6. Better audio and visual. With the launch of our Elemental Diet Success Plan program earlier this year, Roy and I have been invited to speak on podcasts and teach webinars.
To do so, we invested in better audio and visual equipment, and it’s been a game-changer. The Blue Snowball microphone captures our voices with clear, focused sound. Our Logitech webcam provides crisp high-quality video. For only $100 combined these were well worth the investments! Now, if we could only better control the lighting in our home…
Dr. Roy’s Favorite Things
1. Limitless*. Let’s face it, Chris Hemsworth is so darn handsome and cool, I have a man crush on him. If you don’t know who he is, imagine they took Brad Pitt and turned him into a Greek God.
In this Disney + series, Chris is in search of optimizing his health and longevity. From stress proofing, cold exposure, and fasting to aging and death, Chris exposes his vulnerability with humility and charm. I’ve actually watched the series twice with Mia and will probably watch it again sometime. Feel good TV.
2. Personal Blender. I have been a die-hard Vitamix fan since the day Debbie introduced me to it 15 years ago. I love smoothies and drink them multiple times a week in the summer (and occasionally even in the winter). My biggest gripe with the Vitamix is that it is simply too large for many applications. We do have the smaller volume attachments, but I never felt those worked well.
In comes the Magic Bullet Personal Blender. My brother-in-law Allan has introduced me to some of the best gadgets, and I think he gets at least one honorable mention in my favorite things every year. He had been telling me about the Bullet for over ten years, but it took him gifting me one to give it a chance.
It may not look as industrial as the Vitamix, and dare I say it’s probably not as durable either, but it is smaller, less than half the weight, significantly cheaper and gets the job done flawlessly. I haven’t touched the Vitamix since.
3. Ransom Notes*. I hate to admit it, but my general first reaction to the question, “Do you want to play a game?” is “Nah, I’ll pass.” While this was my first reaction to Ransom Notes, you won’t catch me nay-saying this hilarious and fun game ever again!
In short, Ransom Notes is a game where you get a small number of randomly chosen words and you have to respond to ridiculous prompts like “Tell someone you’ve clogged their toilet at a party” with the limited words you have.
We love to create teams and play this game when we get together with family and friends. Be warned that some of the prompts may be inappropriate for young children. Our youngest is 13 and we have to skip a few cards each time we play.
4. Tabletop Smores. While this may sound funny, smores hold a very deep place in my heart and I’m not exaggerating! Debbie and I started dating in January 2009 and it was a cold winter. We have a wood burning fireplace and that is where we spent much of the winter falling in love. We quickly went from roasting marshmallows to making smores—almost as quickly as we fell head-over-heels for each other 😊
We shared our love of smores with the kids and they have become a Steinbock family tradition. Every few years we’d up our game with better supplies and tools. I initially used the coal poker as my roasting stick, then Debbie surprised me with a retractable campfire hot dog roasting stick that allowed me to roast 4 marshmallows at a time!
This fall Debbie discovered an electric tabletop smores maker. She asked me if we should get one, and as you can imagine, I said absolutely, let’s get two! Although it doesn’t have quite the same charm as sitting in front of the fire, cleanup is a breeze, relatively young children can use it safely, and it certainly makes everyone smile at our dinner parties!
5. Best Belt. I have never liked the way belts felt against my waist. Due to my thin waist and what we call in our family the “Podemski booty” (my mother’s maiden name) I almost always need a belt to keep my pants up.
The Arcade belt is a lightweight elastic belt with a very low-profile plastic buckle. It has a ton of adjustability so you can tighten it to perfection (or loosen it after a holiday meal!) and you can even keep it on through airport security.
These belts come in many colors and several different sizes, but I just stick with the simple black. I’ve had two of them for over five-years and they are still holding strong.
6. Stutz*. In 2022, Jonah Hill made a film about the techniques that his charming, direct, and brilliant psychiatrist Dr. Phil Stutz had taught him. Stutz has a fantastic way of simplifying a combination of mindfulness, psychological coping strategies and plain common sense that has clearly changed Jonah Hills life for the better.
The movie also illuminates the heartwarming love that these two men have for each other. It is a must watch for everyone in my opinion—but especially for those with preteen and teenage children.
Layla’s Favorite Things
1. Diffuser. My hair is very thick and curly. Because it takes a long time to dry, my clothes often get fairly wet, which can be annoying. Enter my favorite diffuser. Because it distributes the air, it doesn’t cause heat damage to my hair and it keeps my curls bouncy and weightless.
2. Weighted Blanket. My weighted blanket feels like a hug when I sleep. I’ve always liked to have tons of blankets on my bed (honestly, an obscene amount of them!) and I like my weighted blanket best when paired with another soft, fuzzy blanket. As someone with ADHD, it can provide me with just the right amount of stimulation to ground me.
3. This Year’s Perfect Tote. I love totes and seem to have a new favorite each year. I am never worried about this New Yorker Classic Tote breaking. It is so hearty and cute and it goes with all my outfits. I don’t like to carry a chunky backpack around and this fits my computers and binders – with minimal shoulder pain 🙂
4. Athletic Shorts. Going to the Emory gym is one of my favorite ways to reduce my pent-up stress and energy. Plus, I love feeling strong and fit. These NVGTN shorts are very breathable. I love how they contour to my body but without showing my underwear lines! (Maybe too much information, but it’s true!)
Leo’s Favorite Things
1. Frisbee Golf. I spent my whole summer and fall playing frisbee golf. It’s a fun way to connect with friends and get outside. On the days I play, I get great exercise and walk about 8 miles on average. I enjoy being competitive and I’ve made about $200 (while losing $150—at least I’m still up!).
A good starter kit includes a putter, mid-range and a driver.
2. Favorite speaker. The JBL Flip 5 is a normal speaker with great sound quality but it’s waterproof and I use it in the shower. It’s actually dropped in the hot tub at least once, and it’s still working. It has a long battery life, is lightweight, portable, and durable and it charges up very fast. It has a surprisingly good sound quality for its size and cost, so my dad took my advice and bought himself one. With two, you can connect them in stereo.
3. Zack Bryan*. I’ve never been into Country Music but one of my friends encouraged me to listen to Zack Bryan’s self-titled album and it really spoke to me. Everything about it is very soulful, not like the pop-country that I dislike. I like the tone of his voice and the way he puts words together.
4. Massager. My uncle Allan gave me this massage gun as my 15th birthday gift. I was just starting to go to the gym and my body would get sore and this massager is nice to dig into the places that need it most. I also had to start taking Accutane this year and that’s made my body sore at times, even without working out. This handheld massager comes with accessories so you can change the tip to target the right area with the type of pressure that helps best.
Mia’s Favorite Things
1. Favorite Book*. Books are great but I sometimes don’t know what to read. A couple of months ago, I needed a book and I went to my dad for suggestions. He said that Animal Farm by George Orwell was something I might like, so I decided to try it.
Animal Farm is set on Manor Farm. The animals are overworked, underfed, and treated with little respect. They want the unfairness to end and to have equality on the farm, so they do something about it.
Animal Farm is about working animals and an ever-changing power dynamic. It is a satire, a fable, and an amazing story.
2. Soy Vay. This summer I got hooked on teriyaki chicken. I would order it frequently at restaurants and eventually asked if we could make teriyaki chicken at home. We already had balsamic chicken as a regular, so I assumed it wouldn’t be any harder. We looked through Whole Foods and found Veri Veri Teriyaki!
The Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce by Soy Vay is fantastic. It has the amazing taste of the teriyaki at the restaurant, but now I get to have it at home. It is thick, delicious, and has just a hint of sweetness to improve the experience. I enjoy it so much I can’t wait till the next time I get to eat some homemade teriyaki chicken or tofu.
3. Flowers*. Self-love is something I believe is amazing and special. It’s good to have someone to lean on, but sometimes the person who can love you the best is you. This is the whole theme of the song “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus on her album Endless Summer Vacation.
She is talking about how after her breakup she was sad at first, but then she realized she can love herself better than anyone else. The song progresses as she realizes that it’s okay to be sad, but she can do everything for herself that a man can.
I’m not saying that having a lifelong companion isn’t important and doesn’t matter but knowing that you can love yourself is just as important. Not only is the message of “Flowers” amazing, but it also has an amazing chorus and it’s great to sing to!
4. Optimal Hydration. Staying hydrated is important and I think it is an admirable goal. We are about 60% water after all. But drinking enough water can be hard and remembering to do it just feels annoying at times.
Over the summer I wanted to create a goal of drinking water and actually stick with it. This water bottle was a game changer! It has markings to tell you where to be at every hour and you refill it mid-day to restart and keep drinking your water. Because of this water bottle, I have felt more hydrated overall and the hot summer days were a lot less draining.
Goji’s Favorite Things
1. Bison Bits. I haven’t tried a ton of food in my life, but one thing I know is that I love it! Treats are my favorite but many of them are cookies, so I don’t get them a lot.
One day we were on a hike and my family gave me a delicious treat. It was a yummy bison bit! It is true, it looks like tree bark but it tastes a whole lot better—and I am saying that from experience!
These Bison Bits have become my regular treat and I get them all the time. Thank goodness this barky deliciousness came into my life.
2. Food puzzle. Like I said, I love food. I prefer it to be easy to get, but this puzzle toy has changed my whole view on that matter. There are so many places for the food to be hidden and so many things to open and close. My food puzzle can even make my boring old kibble fun.
I like the challenge it adds, and my family thinks it’s good to stimulate my brain. I would be sad if I had to do it for every meal, but every now and then is perfect. I can’t wait until I graduate to the next level!
3. Washable Dog Bed. I think the popular view on sleeping is that it is pretty great, and in this case I’m one with the crowd. My new bed has made sleeping even better, taking my snoring to a whole new level! My bed is so soft and cozy, and because it’s circular, I fit perfectly inside when I curl up like a Cinnabon.
My parents love my bed too. It has a removable cover so washing it is a breeze. I love when I sleep in a clean bed—every night and all day long!
If you made it to the end, thank you!
And you know what else we love? Hearing from you! Do you have any favorite things from 2023? Do you plan to try some of ours? Please share your comments with us below…
Looking for more favorites? Check out Our Favorite Things 2022
* Parents: As always, please preview any music, podcast, book or movie to ensure it is appropriate for your family.