Thankfully, Lunchables have grown up, too.
The days of peeling apart sticky meats and cheese in a school cafeteria are over. They now sit on an elaborate charcuterie board next to a glass of wine.
Although charcuterie boards have been around for thousands of years, their aesthetic captivated social media platforms only recently. If considered again, from a wellness lens, these creations can do more than complement social gatherings; they can also be structured to fuel your training.
“I consider food to be a pretty big piece of the wellness puzzle,” private chef and owner of Now Boarding Amanda Skrip said. “I think when you are eating balanced and healthy, you tend to feel better overall.”
Charcuterie boards provide us with the ability to pair unlikely ingredients, creating potential from a nutritional perspective. Embracing the food pyramid in an untraditichristonal–yet trending–manner looks like fruits and vegetables nestled between folded meats, stacked crackers, and mindfully selected cheeses.
It’s like a glamorized “ChooseMyPlate” campaign.
Of course, this isn’t the case when boards are carelessly prepared. We get it, charcuterie boards have a lot to do with how they look (and taste), so nutritional value isn’t necessarily your priority. Our point exactly: it can be.
We have created four boards that you can devour before, during, and after your training to embrace the trending snack while treating your body to all the nutrients it craves.
How to structure a charcuterie board
There’s really no wrong way to make a charcuterie board. However, we have some tips that’ll help you prioritize your macronutrients and the aesthetic, of course. Skrip, with her extensive charcuterie board knowledge, walks us through the essentials of charcuterie board creation.
For simplicity purposes, we’ll break up the board into three sections: mains (meats, cheeses, breads), dips, and color (fruits and veggies–Skrip recommends finding seasonal produce).
“When arranging, I tend to first place the cheeses and any jam/honey I’m using, then meats, then produce, and finally I fill in the space with extras – like nuts, dried fruit, cornichons/pickles,” Skrip said.
Choosing a variety of meats and cheeses for each board are key. Skrip suggests using different milks–cow/lamb/sheep/vegan–for cheeses. She also encourages including a mix of aged and soft cheeses in addition to firm/semi-firm options to provide your board with different tastes and textures. Skrip has the same philosophy while choosing meats for her boards.
Good Morning Sunshine
Before a morning workout (or any workout for that matter), carbohydrates are your best friend. They provide your body with quick energy and help maintain your blood sugar levels. In addition to making sure that your pre-workout board has plenty of carbs, steering away from high fiber and fats is key. Although nuts and dried fruit provide you with plenty of nutrients, they are slow to disgust, and will likely cause a stomach ache during your workout.
“Your morning fuel can be very simple and I always encourage my athletes to start small,” registered dietitian Christina Weidman said. “Something is better than nothing, especially after fasting all night while sleeping.”
- Mini toasts
- Mini pancakes
- Apple slices
- Orange slices
Get on Board with Healthy Fats
Perhaps a charcuterie board will be your new motivation to finish that morning run. After all, it’s the best feeling: returning home after a tough workout to grub. These nutrient-dense foods will help your body recover from your calorie burn and keep you feeling energized for the rest of the day.
Today we tend to shy away from “fatty” foods; however, they play an important role in your body’s recovery. Vitamins A, E, and D are fat-soluble–they can only be absorbed with the help of fat–so avoiding this essential part of a balanced diet will likely make you deficient in other nutrients too. Many of these foods also have Omega-3 which promotes sports longevity.
“High omega-3 intake (specifically EPA+DHA) has been shown to improve muscle recovery, support brain & heart health, & fight inflammation,” Weidman said. “Plus there is research that could speed up injury recovery! Making sure you are eating enough is crucial for your health and performance.”
- Mini sausages
- Chia seed crackers
- Mini pitas
- Chocolate hummus
- Orange slices
It’s a Million Degrees Out
The social media campaign of “eat your water” is mildly convincing, especially when you’re hungry. After sweating everything out, it is important to prioritize hydration—so why not do it with charcuterie boards? These ingredients will help replenish your water supply and restore your body’s electrolyte levels. Electrolytes contribute to your overall energy levels and muscle functions, so it’s extremely important to prioritize in the summer–regardless if you are working out or not.
- Corn chips
- Sweet Potato chips
- Goat cheese
- Macadamia nuts
- Spicy hummus
- Bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
Optimize your body’s absorption of protein by consuming it within an hour of completing your workout. Protein is important because it helps with muscle repair and growth. Eating certain anti-inflammatory foods, including berries, will also help prevent you from feeling sore the next day. This charcuterie board will satisfy your hunger cravings while preparing your body for tomorrow’s training, too.
“A well-fueled athlete may dip into their energy stores but a non-restrictive fueling pattern, not skipping meals, and regular recovery days makes sure that they don’t get close to empty,” Weidman said. “Recovery days give your body a chance to rebuild & repair PLUS prepare for the next days training. Underfueling on these days will only set you back.”
- Hard boiled eggs
- Smoked turkey-deli style
- Swiss cheese
- Yogurt dip
- Peanut butter
- Tart cherries (improves isometric muscle strength)