Cheese Boards – A Balancing Act

Posted by: Nita Sharda, Registered Dietitian, Carrots & Cake

Balance. It’s a word I use a lot, I mean the word is even in my business name (Carrots and Cake Balanced Nutrition Consulting). Somehow, this very balance gets completely thrown to the wayside around this time of the year.

Today I’m eager to teach you how to make a nutritionally balanced cheese board. It’s inherent that cheese boards on the whole tend to be calorie dense, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be nutrient dense. The next time you serve one up to your guests, consider these tips:

Add fruits and vegetables: Consider adding seasonal fruit to your cheese board. My favorites include persimmons, pomegranate, apples, pears, mandarins and of course grapes. For veggies, choose something green like pickled asparagus, green beans, and cucumbers or for a pop of color cherry tomatoes will do the trick. Fun fact – Statistics Canada reported that in 2011 only 40.4% of Canadians aged 12 and older consumed fruit and vegetables five or more times per day. Clearly, we need more of this good stuff!

Get nutty: Toast your favorite nuts and sprinkle them onto your cheese board. Not only does the extra crunch create interest in the mouth, most are loaded with heart healthy fats, fibre and protein (a triple threat).

Think outside the box for protein: Cheese boards are typically loaded with processed deli meats. Don’t get me wrong, I love indulging in a piece of prosciutto, but I also welcome the idea of using plant based proteins. Hummus is always a great idea and totally “party friendly”. Another option is roasted chickpeas.

Choose crackers wisely: The cracker aisle can be overwhelming; shelves are overflowing with varieties made from whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. I often suggest trying to find a product that is low in fat and offers 2 – 3 grams of fibre per serving.

Spread smart: Choose whole fruit spreads when possible, or better yet, try to support a local producer (I often use jam crafted by Jamore). Regardless of whether you select jelly, jam, marmalade, chutney or a preserve it’s important to check labels to avoid undesirable additives like high fructose corn syrup.

In need of more tips for surviving this indulgent time of year? Check out these Holiday Eating Survival Tips from yours truly.

Peace, love, & cheese,
Nita
Carrots & Cake