How to Build the Ultimate Healthy Grazing Platter

Grazing platters are the ultimate in sociable, low-key dining. They’re a relaxing way to eat, inviting everyone to nestle around a brightly coloured board, engage in conversation, and let their senses guide them around what colours, flavours and textures to pick and choose.

Platters can sometimes get a bad rap for being unhealthy, especially when loaded with processed meats, chips or sweets. However, the pendulum can easily swing in the other direction, and, with little know-how, they can become incredibly nutritious, suitably fabulous and a super easy, aesthetically awesome centerpiece to anchor any social event.

When building a healthy grazing board, focus on celebrating foods that are in their natural state or close to it. Including a variety of colourful ingredients, the hallmark of any great platter, will also mean a variety of nutrients. Here, it becomes easy to cater to different dietary preferences or needs.

When selecting ingredients, cover off the five groups below:

  1. The vehicle aka the things to dip in the dips. Include an array of colourful vegetable sticks like carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, fresh beans and capsicum; grainy oat, seed or brown rice crackers; and quality breads like crusty sliced sourdough.
  2. Dips and spreads. Pick out your choice of hummus, whipped feta or ricotta, baba ganoush, pâté, pesto, guacamole or olive oil with a side of dukkah. Homemade is great, but you can also get delicious and nutritious options at the supermarket and spoon them into small ceramic or pottery dishes/dipping bowls.
  3. Protein-rich foods. Try seafood (e.g. smoked salmon or marinated mussels), roasted crunchy chickpeas, tempeh, edamame, mini meatballs, nuts, sliced boiled eggs, and of course, the hero of any platter – cheese of all kinds!
  4. Sweet treats. Include fresh fruit like berries (great to fill in any gaps on the board with a splash of colour!), a slab of honeycomb, dark chocolate or tasty bliss balls.
  5. Brined and pickled goods. Like olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled onions, gherkins, marinated vegetables or gut-loving kimchi and sauerkraut.

Platter styling tips to woo eaters:

There aren’t any rules for setting up a platter – let your creative juices flow. However, here are tips to start:

  1. Group similar foods. For easy eating, pair crackers near dips or cheese, and fruit near chocolate etc.
  2. Keep things bite-sized. A whole apple might be left untouched, whereas slices will be eaten! Aim for foods to be eaten within a mouthful or two.
  3. Swirl crackers overtop each other. Get fancy and snake around the outside of the board or dipping bowls.
  4. Go for abundance vibes. Put large foods down first (bowls of dip), followed by those medium-sized (crackers), finishing with smaller foods (like berries and nuts) to plug the gaps. The goal is to not have much of your base visible.
  5. Garnish with herbs, edible flowers, or seeds sprinkled over the top of dips. For that little something extra.

Danijela Armitage is an NZ Registered Nutritionist with training in the culinary arts. Her professional career has spanned community, private practice and workplace wellbeing. She founded the healthy recipe site Nourish and Tempt, where she shares nutritionally considered, delicious meal ideas.

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