When you think of healthy appetizers, snacks, and foods for entertaining, the first thing that comes to mind is probably something like a pile of raw vegetables. The reality is, when you're thinking of party foods in general, "healthy" doesn't even come to mind at all, and definitely not an epic, overflowing cheese board. But guess what, you absolutely can make a Healthy Cheese Board for a party, including a Super Bowl Party. A big, bright Super Board will be a welcome break between all the other standard Super Bowl party fare that's usually heavier.
This recipe for a Healthy Cheese Board is part of the Golden State Game Day Snacks e-book produced by my pals at California Grown and Visit California. Super Bowl LVI is going down at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California, so it's just perfect to serve up all California snacks for your Super Bowl party, no matter who's playing.
Healthy Cheese Board Guiding Principle
When you're building a Healthy Cheese Board, there's one main thing to keep in mind. Fill the board as much as you can with fresh seasonal fruit, vegetables, and nuts!
In the summer, this guiding principle is a no-brainer. In the colder months, fresh fruit and vegetables might not seem so accessible, but that's a myth. California's climate varies enough across the state that its farms can grow bright, colorful produce year-round, including the Fall and Winter.
Sure, we know about broccoli and cauliflower, both of which are great as crudites on a cheese board. But California also grows all different kinds and colors of beets, carrots, lettuces and leafy greens, and one of my all-time favorite vegetables, radishes.
And you know all California citrus is at its peak in the winter, but did you know strawberries are actually in season year-round in California? Now you do!
(Wine is also in season year-round, in case you needed to hear that, too.)
You can peep what fruits and vegetables are in season on this post over on the California Grown website.
Pro tips for building an Epic Healthy California Super Bowl Cheese Board
A Healthy Cheese Board isn't just a matter of peeling all the fruit and vegetables and throwing them onto a board alongside some cheese. Not that you couldn't do that either. You have to make your guests want to get all the way in on those fruits and vegetables. Here are some pro-tips for making your Healthy Cheese Board look as good as it tastes and vice versa:
- Pick bright colors and cut different shapes to increase variety. If you have a lot of the same kind of produce, pick different colors, and cut and slice them in different directions for visual variety. For example, if you buy carrots, look for different colors. Carrots come in a pretty wide spectrum of colors from red to pink to purple. Serve them whole if they're baby carrots, cut them into sticks, and slice into thin rounds like "chips" if they're particularly large.
- Go for fresh when seasonal, get dried year-round. If your favorite fruit or vegetable isn't in season, look for a dried version of it! While flavor and sweetness of fresh fruits are outstanding, they get more concentrated in dried fruits, making them an even better pairing for some of the stronger, more aged cheeses. Example? Stone fruits like apricots and cherries are in season in California during the summer, but the dried versions are available year round and are great accompaniments for aged gouda-style cheeses.
- Leave the stems and greens on vegetables! When possible, buy fruit and vegetables with the stems on like carrots and radishes. Leave a small piece of the stem on when serving, so people can use it like a handle! Provide napkins or an obvious way to discard the stem when people are finished taking their bite.
- Refrigerate cheeses until serving. This is the opposite advice of my usual! Normally I, like most other cheese board professionals, recommend letting cheeses "loosen up" on the counter at room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour before serving. In the case of the Big Game Day though, because it will be a long marathon of a day, there will be plenty of time for the cheeses to loosen up on the board while people are still mingling during the pre-game, especially if you serve the cheeses already sliced or cut.
Pro-tips for pairing wine with a fruit- and vegetable-forward cheese board:
- White wine is your best bet for a Healthy Cheese Board that's full of fresh fruit and vegetables. Specifically, a California sauvignon blanc that leans more toward grassy and herbal, as opposed to crisp and mineral-driven, will be a perfect pairing.
- Try gruner veltliner for something different! Gruner Veltliner is a white wine grape originating in Austria, but grown in in small amounts in California!
- If you just can't drink anything but red wine, go with a light-bodied red wine like gamay or pinot noir. These wines also work well with cheeses.
You can get your head (and appetite!) in the game by entering a California prize pack giveaway from Visit California. Just post your California-inspired Super Bowl party snacks to instagram with the hashtags #CAGrown #VisitCalifornia #CAPregame. Find out more on the Visit California’s website.
What You Need for a Healthy Cheese Board, California-Style
You Will Need:
- Fresh fruit in season
- Fresh vegetables in season
- Dried fruit accompaniments
- Roasted and salted, raw, and candied nuts
- Sweet fruit jams and honey
- Savory spreads like mustard
- Briny pickled things
- 3-5 California cheeses of different styles
Ingredients Notes and Shopping Resources
- Apples. The best way to serve apples on a board is to cut them in half length-wise, remove the core, and then very thinly slice each half. Apple slices work great as a "cracker" with a slice of cheese.
- Citrus. California grows so many different varieties of citrus: navel oranges, blood oranges, cara cara (pink), tangerines, pink grapefruit, white grapefruit (oro blanco), and pomelo
- Kiwi. Who knew kiwi grows in California?!
- Beets. Raw beets can be very "earthy," so roasting orange or yellow beets, slicing them into wedges, and serving them with little cocktail forks is great. Baby candy stripe beets are great raw.
- Radishes. Round red radishes are everywhere, but if you can find Easter egg radishes (the multi-color pastel), French breakfast (oblong red and white), purple ninja, and watermelon radish, snap them up!
- Candied Dried Citrus. Use this recipe to make your own Candied Citrus at home with some of the extra citrus you get for your board. It's too easy! Of course, you can buy candied dried citrus in some grocery stores, found where all the dried fruit and nuts are.
- Pinot Prune Jam. Pinot Prune Jam is my new... jam (ugh). Make it with this recipe.
- Pickled Red Onions. You need this recipe to make Pickled Red Onions at home. Pickled onions are something I have not found in a grocery store, except the whole small onions for cocktails. The recipe also works for virtually any other vegetable (carrots, radishes)
- Dehydrated Citrus Crisps. These are dehydrated, not candied, so they are fairly bitter and work best as a garnish. You can make them yourself using this recipe.
- Whipped Feta. Serve Whipped Feta or other soft, dippable, spreadable cheese as one of the five cheeses. A dippable cheese is for the fresh vegetables. You can make Whipped Feta using this recipe.
Be sure to peep these Sweet Potato Fry Nachos loaded with cheese, olives, and fresh vegetables on homemade baked sweet potato fries by my friend Alison at A Girl Defloured, too!
Healthy Cheese Board Recipe
3-5 Cheeses, pick from these
- Whipped Feta or other dippable/spreadable cheese for the vegetables
- bloomy rind cheese like a Brie-style
- semi-soft cheese like a cheddar or jack
- semi-firm cheese like an aged gouda
- mild blue cheese
California-grown Fresh Fruit
- apples cored, and sliced
- citrus like oranges, blood oranges, cara cara (pink), tangerines, pink grapefruit, white grapefruit (oro blanco), and pomelo sliced into half-sunshines
California-grown Fresh Vegetables
- beets like red, golden, and candy stripe
- radishes like round red, multicolor pastel Easter egg, French breakfast, purple ninja, and watermelon radish
- dried tart cherries
- dried apricots
- candied dried oranges
- dried persimmons
- different color jumbo raisins
- dried figs
Nuts and Seeds
- California almonds
- California walnuts
Sweet Fruit Jams, Honey, and Savory Spreads
- raspberry jam
- mango habanero jam
- rosé red onion marmalade
- fig jam
- Pinot Prune Jam
- seeded mustard
- honey with honeycomb
Briny Pickled Things
- California ripe green olives
- California ripe black olives
- pickled red onions
- dehydrated citrus crisps
- fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme
- edible flowers
- Slice cheeses and place on board nearest the edges and corners.
- Place small bowl of sweet jams, honey, and savory spreads next to cheeses that are the most natural pairing.
- Place small bowls of briny pickled things on board.
- Arrange fresh fruit, vegetables, and dried fruit on board.
- Fill in gaps on board with nuts and seeds.
- Garnish with dehydrated citrus crisps, sprigs of fresh herbs, and edible flowers.