How To Navigate The Christmas Charcuterie Board Without Overeating

With good looks and good taste, the Christmas charcuterie board has it all. A popular centerpiece at parties, it is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. As cliche as that sound, grazing boards truly deliver. The downside is, while you nibble and gnaw you may be overloading the calories. Our challenge is to uncover the healthiest choices, so you can chow down without beefing up.

There are several staples on standard charcuterie boards: meats, cheeses, nuts, flatbreads and spreads. An expert board-maker explains there should be a mix of sweet and savory, giving your palate a mix of flavors.

Nowadays, our modern party platters have super-sized the concept to include anything and everything you can possibly put on a board. Beyond the meats and cheeses, there are pickles, peppers, olives, fruits, sweets, breads, veggies, seafood and more. With so much to choose from, the combinations are endless. But, if you’re hoping to indulge without guilt there are a few expert tips.

It’s all about choices, of course. It is possible to enjoy a skinny smorgasbord.

Beginning with the meats, pass on the salty and fatty salami and prosciutto, instead look for turkey which is much leaner.

Go light on the cheeses which are heavy on the calories. If you are too tempted, limit yourself to a small sample.

Nuts can be surprisingly fattening, but they are also a source of healthy proteins.

Berries and fruits are a great choice. Try to focus on the purest selections, avoiding candied or sugared fruits.

Olives and peppers, we say sure go for it. Same for veggies. Load up on tomatoes, celery and carrots. While you don’t hit the charcuterie in the hopes of walking away with a serving of crudite, vegetables are friends with benefits.

If you are stacking your selections, think flatbread or cracker and not rolls or sliced or chunks of bread. It is not as filling or fattening.

On to the ‘extras.’ These are the signature items that make the board standout. We’re talking gourmet dips, spreads, jellies and the like.

Safe to say pick the lighter options. For example, yogurt-based soft cheese or sour cream based spreads. Hummus is another great option if it available. So is edamame.

Honey, even the trendy flavored honeys, are a better choice health-wise than jellies. Although I do love a good fig jam and fig is a superfood. It’s only downfall is that jellies and jams are typically jam-packed with sugar. Mustards get a thumbs up, being both low-cal and high flavor.

Fill your plate with good choices and garnish so to speak, with the yummy but maybe more decadent delights. Finally, enjoy the variety of your Christmas charcuterie board, but graze wisely.

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