Healthy Grazing Boards: A Quest for Flavor and Friendship
Almost every great adventure begins with a reluctant hero fighting against seemingly unconquerable odds. But it ends with a victorious feast, new friends made, and lessons learned. It may seem like a stretch, but this is no different from my first experience making a charcuterie board.
Also known as a gazing board, this party platter urges you to find the best food you can and share it with those you care about (or want to impress). And you can make it as healthy as you want. From the herbal, nutty aroma of exotic cheeses to the sweet, sour flavor of pickled olives surrounded by wild berries and fresh veggies—be your own hero as you embark on the unforgettable adventure of making and presenting your first grazing board.
Searching for Flavor
Your first obstacle is to find all the ingredients you need. Because you’ll need a lot of them. As you make the quest to look for unique foods, seasonal fruits, and the freshest veggies you can find, you’ll discover you must search out boutique grocers in every corner of the land.
Go all out with your ingredients. And remember, quality and abundance are key. It also helps to know early on there really isn’t a wrong way to make a grazing board.
- Cheese and meat: Traditional charcuterie focuses more on cheeses and cured meats. For healthy options, try fresh cheeses, like Mozzarella or Ricotta, instead of aged ones. And go with lean protein options like eggs or shaved turkey. For more healthy ideas, click here.
- Fruit and veggies: pickled olives, grapes, and berries go well with traditional cheeses and meats, but don’t be afraid to pile your board with all kinds of healthy, tasty options. You can easily ditch the meat and cheese and make veggies the centerpiece if you want. This is your chance to go to the local farmers market and discover something new.
- Everything else: Don’t forget all the delicious extras you can add. Pistachios, almonds, and other nuts are great for adding flavor and texture. You can also include sweet or savory jams and jellies, mustards, or other pickled items or garnishes. Herb sprigs and flowers can bring even more color and aroma to your board.
You’ll quickly learn that searching for the perfect parts of your grazing board is a real-life adventure. It will get you out into the community discovering new flavors and cultures, supporting local businesses, and encouraging you to meet new people and places.
If you want to make a vegan grazing board, check out this article.
Crafting an Experience
Now that you have all your fancy, fresh, and unique ingredients, you can actually build your board and craft an experience of gastronomical grandeur. This is the second trial you—as the hero of your story—must overcome. But, as with the first, you’ll quickly realize it’s just another part of your awesome, new adventure.
- Find your foundation. You can use a glass or ceramic platter or go with a wooden board. Just make sure it’s the right size for what you want to do.
- Start by placing the two or three largest items like cheese wedges, bowls of jelly or olives, or large vegetables.
- Begin filling in the spaces working from bigger items to smaller ones. Keep everything bite-sized, and try to keep similar items together.
- Add some style and asymmetry by placing items in threes. You can go with an elaborate design you find online or just make your board a chaotic cornucopia.
- Add the finishing touches with herb sprigs, flowers, berries, nuts, and seeds.
This is your chance to showcase all the delicious goodies you’ve found on your journey. Find foods with striking colors and try to complement them. Make it your way and add your style. There really aren’t any rules as to what can or can’t be on a grazing board. If you love gardening, it could be filled with all of your home-grown vegetables. Or if you want to focus more on protein options, you could go more traditional and cover it with cheese and antipasti.
The experience you craft is in your hands. For design ideas click here.
Celebrating Your Journey
Now that your board is complete, you need some friends and loved ones to share it with. So invite them over for a relaxing evening and good food. Place your board in an easily accessible location, typically close to the drinks.
Then stick around and share your healthy grazing board with pride. You traveled far and wide, discovered new places and flavors, and now you get to have some fun and tell your stories. Where and how you got the ingredients really can become the main talking point around your board. So get ready to be the expert on the heirloom tomatoes or locally sourced fresh cheese you included.
Nothing is quite as photogenic as a well-made grazing board. So make sure to snap plenty of nice photos and share them, along with your stories, on social media as well. It’s a great way to showcase healthy habits in an artistic way that’s all you.
You’ve broken out of your comfort zone. You’ve fostered a community of people you care for. You’ve had a healthy adventure and created something to be forever proud of. But it’s not the end of your story, because you can always do it again. Maybe next time you’ll add some mango pieces or a bowl of fresh salsa.
And we know many of you are already healthy grazing board experts. Please share your tips and tricks below to help us new adventurers on our journey.