Kristen Ziesmer, Sports Dietitian - Healthy Charcuterie Board

Healthy Charcuterie Board

Guest Blogger Sean Vander Veer shares his favorite dish, that’s perfect for gatherings and entertaining.

But of course, not for vegetarians. 😉

Not much in life gets me more excited than a plate full of meat. In this blog post I want to talk about a different type of plate of meat, one that has been growing in popularity. This plate is called the Charcuterie Board.

Kristen Ziesmer, Sports Dietitian - Healthy Charcuterie Board

The History of The Charcuterie Board

First, a quick history lesson on where the term came from and what it means. Originally derived from the French words for “flesh” (chair) and “cooked” (cuit), the term charcuterie was used to designate shops in fifteenth-century France that sold products made from pork. But, how do we get from that point to meat on a board with cheese and other pickling items?

Well, in the fifteenth century, charcutiers were not allowed to sell uncooked pork so they created all manner of cooked (or salted and dried) dishes to be sold later via pate-style. These cuts of meat are made from pork, the meat is then cubed or chopped, salted heavily and cooked slowly in fat until it is tender enough to be easily shredded, and then cooled with enough of the fat to form a paste, sausage, bacon, hams, and a variety of head cheeses.

Overall, charcuterie is the form of salting, smoking, and cooking to preserve meats and food products.

Charcuterie has been one of the foundations of human survival in that it allowed societies to maintain a food surplus throughout the year. Now let’s get into how to make a healthy charcuterie board.

What Goes into a Charcuterie Board?

The basics are: cured meats, breads, pickled items, cheeses, something salty and something sweet.

Meat options

  • Traditional Italian cured meats include prosciutto, pancetta, lardo, finocchiona, capocollo, saliccia, salame, mortadella, soppressata, chorizo, pate.

Cheese options

  • Soft and spreadable – Brie, Goat, Camembert
  • Semi-soft – able to be spread and mild in taste – Munster, Gruyere, Blue (not mild)
  • Semi-Hard – aged longer than the soft varieties – Cheddar & Gouda
  • Hard – Aged for months to years and crumble easily – Manchego, Asiago, Parmigiano

Something Salty & Something Sweet

  • Cashews, almonds, olives, sun dried tomatoes, nuts.
  • Figs, fresh fruit sliced, dark chocolate, honey, nectarines

Now that we know what goes into a charcuterie board, how do we build it? I like to pick 3 cheeses, 3 meats and mix in some bread or crackers, along with something sweet and salty from the list above. Simply arrange the items on a plate or board and voila! Have fun with it, get creative, there is no right or wrong way to put together a board.

Healthy Alternatives

The Elite Nutrition and Performance Board:

Here is a comparison of some items you will find on a Charcuterie Board and a list of healthy alternatives that will keep that waistline trim and in check!

Traditional Healthy Substitute
prosciutto, pancetta, lardo, finocchiona, capocollo, saliccia, salame, mortadella, soppressata, chorizo

Sliced grilled chicken breast, low sodium chicken or turkey deli meats, smoked salmon, seared beef tenderloin/pork tenderloin sliced thin (carpaccio)

Brie, Camembert, Cheddar, Gouda, Manchego, Asiago, Parmigiano

Goat cheese is naturally lower in fat and contains 75 calories per ounce (try herb crusted), part skim mozzarella at 70 calories per ounce, reduced fat cheeses like Cabot 50%, Feta cheese at 75 calories per ounce, Neufchatel at 70 calories per ounce

Cashews, almonds, olives, sun dried tomatoes, assorted nuts 23 almonds to get 160 calories, 18 cashews to reach 160 calories, and pistachios offer 49 nuts to equal 160 calories. Plus, they come equipped with a shell that needs to be decoded prior to eating!
Figs, fresh fruit sliced, dark chocolate, honey, nectarines Horseradish, pickled onions, beets, pickles, mustards (spicy, regular), low sugar preservatives such as Smucker’s red raspberry or apricot

The key is to share the board with friends and family members, and add in those pieces of sliced fruit to get those needed vitamins and minerals. The protein from the meat and cheese will help keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders. If you want a low-fat board to keep the calories down, try adding reduced fat cheese options, or load the plate up with deli meats such as turkey and or slices of chicken breast instead of the higher fat cured meats mentioned above.


Sean Vander Veer Elite Nutrition and Performance RD
Sean Vander Veer RD, LD, CPT







Contact Kristen to schedule a free 15-minute consultation, so we can discuss your particular situation and goals.

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