A new year has arrived along with a strong resolve for many of us to focus on healthy eating and more nutritious family meals. As a registered dietitian nutritionist and mom, I know that sometimes it isn’t just about the food – it’s about the fun. And while charcuterie boards are great for a get-together or holiday party (like our Christmas board), they can also be the perfect fit for your midweek family meal. Best of all, when you create a kid-friendly charCUTErie board, your kids can get in on the fun.
Kids love to help in the kitchen. With a little prep work and age-appropriate tasks, kids of all ages can be culinary superstars. Simple skills – like washing, chopping and plating – build confidence in kids and can spark an appetite for dinner. For picky eaters, a little food prep may be just what they need to embrace new foods. Your little sous chef quickly becomes a nutritionist when they focus on three healthy principles:
- A visual feast. Kids first eat with their eyes. Placing a focus on color and contrast can make your dinner look delicious. A charcuterie board is an edible piece of art, so seek out fresh fruits and vegetables for their bright hues. Add a little cheese to your culinary creation for a pairing that they’ll be excited to eat.
- Variety is the spice of life – and your board. Food boards are a fun way to mix and match your favorite flavors and get in all your MyPlate foods. In a delicious display, your board can feature all five food groups your family needs each day – including fat-free and low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.
- Just the right amount of volume. Focus on not filling the board completely and allow for a little space to ensure that you are getting the foods your kids need, but not too much.
Create Your Board
The best board is a good balance of flavor, texture and foods. It’s about finding the elements that work for you and your vision of the ideal meal:
- Material: Wood may be your best bet, although a melamine serving tray may be great too. Save your stone slate or marble boards for entertaining adults.
- Easy access: Kids love finger foods. Cheese, cold cuts, apple slices, grapes, carrot sticks, celery sticks, kid-friendly crackers and nuts are all great options.
- Balance: Add a little sweet, add a little salty. Add some favorite foods, add some new foods. It’s a culinary experiment.
- Presentation: Put the CUTE in charcuterie with creative folding, tucking and placement that presents the foods on your board in the most appealing way.
Encourage your kids to enjoy the fruits, and cheeses, of their labor. When the meal is over, leftovers should be easy to store, reducing that dreaded food waste. And with one board, clean up should be a breeze.
Don’t stop the kitchen fun here, continue to grow your kids’ culinary skills with our favorite family recipes