There’s no question that charcuterie boards are currently all the rage. While it’s certainly not a new idea—in fact, charcuterie style eating dates back to the 15th century in France, according to TimesColonist.com—social media has blown this trend up. Whether for the holidays or just an everyday get-together, a classic charcuterie board is a great way to entertain.
While these delicious spreads are a ton of fun, they’re not necessarily known for being terribly healthy. After all, Oxford Languages defines charcuterie as “cold cooked meats.” A charcuterie board is traditionally known for featuring a wide variety of cured meats and cheeses.
But that’s not to say that you must be resigned to certain choices. There are certainly ways to boost the nutrition power and make a healthy, low-calorie charcuterie board with ingredients that you and your guests will still love. Here are a few of our best tips.
Step 1: Make wise low-calorie cheese choices.
Cheese is pretty much a staple of the charcuterie board and probably not something you want to skip entirely. But you can make smarter cheese choices in order to keep your board healthy. Look for reduced-fat versions when you can. And remember—like everything else, it’s all about moderation. A little bit of your favorite cheese is not going to derail your diet. It’s only when you go overboard that it starts to become a problem. If you have a favorite cheese, work it into the board but when you go to load up your plate, just limit how many pieces you take.
Step 2: Load up on fruits and raw veggies.
One way to increase the health power of your charcuterie board is to make sure it’s amply packed with fresh fruits and raw veggies. Grapes that are still on the vine make a lovely and colorful addition to any board. But you can also chop up any of your favorite, seasonal fruits to add to your display. Rainbow carrots, mini bell peppers, radishes, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers are charcuterie board essentials.
Be sure to include a variety of healthy dipping options for your veggies including low-fat dressing, hummus or maybe even peanut butter. Use your imagination and get creative! After all, one of the things that makes charcuterie so much fun is the chance to try some new things. Having lots of fun dips will make it easy to eat more of the healthy choices. You might even add some yogurt dip for the fruit!
Step 3: Choose whole grain crackers.
The crackers or mini bread slices that are often found on charcuterie platters can create a carb loading dilemma. It’s very easy to quickly fill up on these less-than-stellar choices.
You can make healthier cracker selections like whole grain or whole wheat options which will add more fiber to your board. Look for cracker or bread choices that contain a whole grain as the first ingredient. You can also look for some sprouted seed or nut crackers for a gourmet, crunchy twist!
If you want to go the extra mile, you could even tackle making crackers on your own. These Sweet Potato Crackers or these Pumpkin Cranberry Crackers would make excellent additions to your platter. Making your own components allows you to be in total control of the ingredients you eat.
Step 4: Don’t overload the board with meats.
Cured meats often make up a large portion of a traditional charcuterie board. The problem with many cured meats is that they are typically high in salt content and contain nitrates. To make your board healthier, limit the number of cured and deli meats you feature and try to use low-sodium options without any added honey or sugar.
Even better, replace them with a healthier choice. In place of salami or pepperoni, perhaps use some deli-style smoked turkey. Or maybe you can include some lean proteins like grilled shrimp or blackened grilled chicken, sliced in thin strips. Again, get creative and think outside of the box.
Step 5: Pack it with additional protein.
In addition to some healthier meat choices, you might also consider making your charcuterie board protein-packed with some healthy choices like hard-boiled egg slices or nuts. You could even consider adding some roasted chickpeas.
At the end of the day, the choices are yours. There are no hard-and-fast rules to charcuterie boards that you have to follow. In fact, one of the best aspects of creating a board yourself is the option to get creative and make it truly your own. When you’re in control of the ingredients, you can make sure that your board is delicious and nutritious.